Kovalev and Stevenson

By Timothy Seaver on January 9, 2016
Kovalev and Stevenson
A fighter’s prime is often fleeting, more of a stanza in poem than an epic adventure.

The specter of the potential superfight is always close enough that its fumes hang about the sport and intoxicate fans like an elixir…

The perpetual sense of anticipation is the engine that drives the sport of boxing. Fans live in a constant haze of waiting for what might happen next. A superfight between two titans is just a contract away. The specter of the potential superfight is always close enough that its fumes hang about the sport and intoxicate fans like an elixir.

Many superfights could be made in the next year, but the one that currently tantalizes the light heavyweight division is the potential clash between Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Adonis “Superman” Stevenson, 27-1.

That these two men are the best light heavyweights in the world is not in dispute. What isn’t known is just which of the two holds the highest position. Russia’s Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs) has three of the four major belts; IBF, WBA, and WBO. He has gone through each opponent with such ease that it almost looks unfair to let them into the ring with him. In Krusher’s last dozen fights only the great Bernard Hopkins has managed to make it to the final bell. In 2014 he was named the Fighter of the Year by The Ring magazine.

Stevenson (27-1, 22 KOs) holds the WBC belt and lays claim to the division’s “lineal” title. He took his crown in dramatic fashion when he smashed a left hand into the head of then-champion Chad Dawson in the first round. He was awarded the Fighter of the Year honors in 2013.

The similarities these two share are obvious; they have both been the Fighter of the Year, each is 7-0 in world title fights, both love the knockout and will always look to end a fight early, and each has gathered separate pieces of the light heavyweight crown.

That the belts are divided between them is not the greatest sin. True, there are more titles today than ever, and this can seriously confuse the issue. But the truth remains evident: we have two men who sit on the verge of undisputed royalty. But they must meet each other to prove themselves great. And despite the plethora of alphabet titles, these institutions are not at the center of the politics. The biggest obstacle to this fight is the rivalry between HBO, which has Kovalev under contract, and Showtime which has Stevenson.

Hypocritically, these two networks will often lament the difficulty in making fights. But to listen to their broadcasts leads one to conclude that the fault lies elsewhere. Watch a broadcast on either station or you’re likely to hear vocal misdirection suggesting you look at the alphabet organizations for blame. “Nothing to see here, folks! Look what those people are doing.” The truth is that what drives their contracts is what drives everything in the sport: money. Can HBO make money with Kovalev? Yes. So why would they surrender that option? And the same goes for Showtime with Stevenson.

And why should the same not go for each of the organizations? The IBF, WBO, WBC, WBA can all make money with their own champions. So why wouldn’t they? Where is the incentive to do otherwise? If no reasonable compromise can be found, then none of the institutions can be expected to step aside. What institution willingly dissolves itself?

But there have been plenty of examples of such obstacles being overcome. In 1983, great light heavyweights Michael Spinks and Dwight Muhammad Qawi met to answer who was in fact the king of the division. Granted, they spilt only two belts between them and not four, but the idea was the same. They were the two best men and they settled matters in the ring. And when Spinks proved the better man he squashed all doubt as to who ruled the division. His career, and the sport, grew as a result.

Opposite that model is the one set down by Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. For years these two men were the best in the world, and a fight between them was continually flirted with. When it finally happened it was heavy on finance and light on substance. The fight was highly anticipated, but hardly remembered. It’s because rust had begun to grow on the once shiny veneer of Pacquiao’s career. He was past his best and people knew it. The fight was several years too late. A fighter’s prime is often fleeting, more of a stanza in poem than an epic adventure. And it’s rare to have two greats whose best years overlap.

If anticipation is the elixir of the boxing fan, then wasted opportunity is the poison. This is the year for Kovalev and Stevenson to meet. Give us the spark of Spinks and Qawi, because we have no need for the fizzle of Mayweather and Pacquiao.

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  1. AkT 05:04pm, 01/12/2016

    Why do we have Kovalev-Ward and not Ward-Golovkin?

  2. No10Count 02:13pm, 01/11/2016

    This is a fight that will not happen.
    Haymon will not allow it. Not even as a going away pay day for Stevenson. He would set up another of his own fighters to do that in order to further capitalize off the fight.  Just like this editorial says.

    I use Boxrecs Rankings as who is what within a division.
    They do not care who is at the top and no human has a say it it. It is 100% algorithmic.  (every other listing is a human voted for listing- IE subjective) Im not saying their system is perfect but the only issue I have is a fighter can move up in weight and carry over the previously accumulated points. Case in point - Super Lightweight.  Having Terrence Crawford as #1 due to this. Which he has only fought 1 140lber so far. I like Crawford but he is built up by beating smaller men. 

    Hopefully 2016 will be a good year for us fans.
    maybe we will get Kovalev Vs Ward.

  3. The Tache 09:34am, 01/09/2016

    Given his age, I think Stevenson is putting the fight off until he wants to retire and will then use it to stuff his pension, knowing it doesn’t make much difference then if he wins or loses. That tells me what Stevenson thinks is the likely outcome of a fight with Kovalev, which funnily enough is what I think too.

  4. AkT 04:13pm, 01/08/2016

    @Eric - I agree. Kovalev is different. Completely different breed. Al Haymon knows better. I’d do the same if I managed Stevenson.

  5. Mike Casey 09:00am, 01/08/2016

    Yes, Eric, I too have a feeling the fight will end like that.

  6. Eric 08:53am, 01/08/2016

    Fury is the heavyweight champ, the Krusher holds the light heavy title and G3 is the middleweight king IMO. In this day and age you just decide for yourself who is the best fighter in the division or who is the real champion. The Qawi-Spinks superfight never lived up to the hype, it was actually a pretty boring affair. The normally super aggressive Camden Buzzsaw was uncharacteristically a bit timid after tasting the Spinks Jinx early on. The Krusher takes this guy out early.

  7. Mike Casey 06:50am, 01/08/2016

    Hear, hear!

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