KRUSHER TO MEET HIS MATCH?
By Frank Warren
After years of posturing we are still none the wiser over who would emerge with the spoils from a mouth-watering match-up between Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson. That one appears still very much parked up in the waiting room and whether it ever materialises remains to be seen.
However, there is a more than tasty light heavyweight scrap booked in for November that is equally, if not more, intriguing.
Should both Kovalev and Andre Ward come through tune-up bouts unscathed, the pair look like getting it on at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the new home of big fights on the Strip.
It will provide a fascinating clash of styles that has already got fight fans talking, debating whether the Son of God can withstand the formidable force of Krusher.
Kovalev can bang with the best of them, no doubt about that, and I have witnessed his awesome power close up from when he won his first version of the world title by dismantling the then WBO champion Nathan Cleverly in four rounds back in 2013.
It was a chastening experience for Cleverly in Cardiff on that August night, but it was clear we were seeing something a bit special in Kovalev, who has gone from strength to strength since, amassing a 29-0-1 record, with 26 of those victories coming by KO.
He is now also the holder of the WBA and IBF belts and a victory over Stevenson with his WBC strap on the line would complete the set. It might end up being one of those great fights that falls by the wayside.
Ward, a pound-for-pound great at 168, is going to be one awkward customer for Kovalev. He doesn’t appear to possess devastating power, but then he doesn’t need to as he is that good a boxer.
The 32-year-old is 29-0, but he has suffered from lengthy inactivity in the recent past due to promotional issues, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the way he toyed with Paul Smith in his comeback fight after 18 months out of the ring.
He is a class operator who was the outstanding talent at super middleweight, defeating the likes of Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler via unanimous decisions, but now he is allowing himself some extra poundage by stepping up a weight and isn’t exactly easing himself into the division.
I’ve always said that punch power isn’t the key component for a great fighter because, if it was, you wouldn’t need judges. The great boxers don’t get hit much anyway and are supremely conditioned to carry out their business over 12 rounds.
If any boxer got caught by Kovalev they would be in trouble, but will he be able to land a telling blow on the slippery and elusive Ward?
I suspect not, I always favour a good boxer over a heavy puncher, so it is Ward for me.
Now Ward has departed the super middleweight scene the division looks open again without a truly outstanding champion that looks likely to dominate the division. They all appear beatable.
James DeGale and Badou Jack are seemingly set for a unification clash, while Felix Sturm will doubtless be relieved of his title after his samples came up murky following his dubious outpointing of Fedor Chudinov. The Mexican Gilberto Ramirez looks like he could become a force, with the 25-year-old southpaw scoring a shutout victory over the cagey old warhorse Arthur Abraham last time out in Las Vegas.
None of these names would strike fear into the heart of Jamie Cox, who has now been reinstated following his court hearing. He is an avoided fighter for a reason, but we will hopefully soon be able to steer him into a position where he can realise his full potential – and that is world title level.
Anthony Crolla has got his – or his team’s – wish and been handed a September date with former WBC lightweight champion Jorge Linares. They clearly didn’t want a fight with near neighbour Terry Flanagan and you can’t force people to the negotiating table.
I have no qualms over saying that Crolla-Linares is a good fight, but why it is being fabricated into some kind of spurious unification is beyond me. It is what it is and should be a decent challenge for Crolla but, when the final bell goes, the WBC champion will still be Dejan Zlaticanin.