Kovalev/Mikhalkin MSG Presser

By Peter Weston Wood on February 28, 2018
Kovalev/Mikhalkin MSG Presser
Mikhalkin might have the edge in age, but this will certainly be his toughest ring test yet.

Sergey Kovalev needs to prove his top-dog status not only to the world, but to his opponent, Igor Mikhalkin…

Saturday’s main event between Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Igor Mikhalkin is a 12-round fight for the WBO light heavyweight title in The Theater at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The co-main event features WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol versus Sullivan Barrera in a 12-round title fight.

“We promise to light up the arena on Saturday evening,” vows Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “The light heavyweight division is on fire, and the eyes of the world will be watching as we feature four of the world’s hottest fighters. The Garden is The Mecca of boxing and we have a spectacular card from top to bottom.”

To support her claim, boxing fans will be treated to eleven quality bouts—heavyweights on down to welterweights. The combined win-loss total of all twenty-two fighters is an astounding 167-29. That’s a lot of fistic talent featured on one fight card. There’s not a stinker among them.

At the top of the show is Sergey Kovalev (31-2-1- 27 KOs). As the dominant fighter in his division, Krusher aims to prove he’s still top dog, even after dropping two fights to Andre Ward.

Kovalev needs to prove his top-dog status not only to the world, but to his opponent, Igor Mikhalkin, the current European champ. Igor, a slick, defensely-minded southpaw with an impressive 21-1 record, has never been knocked out, and is currently on a ten-win streak. Born in Russia, and now residing in Germany, this will be Mikhalkin’s first fight outside of Europe. Mikhalkin is in New York City to put an exclamation mark on his career with an upset victory.

This is not the first time the two fighters have met.

“We’ve box together and be friends since seventeen,” reveals Kovalev, looking over at his stoic opponent. “But in ring we not friends.”

An eager Mikhalkin, at 6’1’, was the first fighter to enter today’s presser. He glided in early, flanked by his short German trainer and small entourage. Tall and poised, Igor wore a loose-fitting black and gold sweat suit with ECU inscribed on the back. A yellow Everlast wool cap sat atop his head.

At 32, Mikhalkin is younger than Kovalev, who turns 35 in April. Mikhalkin might have the edge in age, but this will certainly be his toughest ring test yet. His talent, drive and determination are admirable, but does he stand a chance at scoring an upset? Would Kovalev have agreed to fight him if he did?

“Anything is possible,” says Duva, a veteran who has seen it all in this sport.

In the co-main bout, fur will fly. Young Dmitry Bivol is pitted against the mandatory challenger, Sullivan Barrera. This is an exciting bout that fans have been waiting for—and it’s a fight that poses many questions: Is the undefeated Bivol, with only 12 professional fights, ready for a seasoned veteran like Barrera? At 36, is Barrera too old to wrest the title from Bivol?

Bivol has quickly ascended to the top of the light heavyweight division since turning pro in 2014. He’s knocked out all but two of his opponents, and has fought four times in 2017.

Another question: Is the young Bivol destined to become the future of the light heavyweight division, like Kathy Duva thinks?

Duva notes, “Sergey will certainly be watching this fight closely, and be ready to fight the winner at any time.”

Of particular note is an undercard bout between Vaughn “The Animal” Alexander, an undefeated light middleweight with an unblemished record of 11-0 versus rough Jaime “Zarco” Sanchez from Mexico (12-3-2).

Duva is proud to have Alexander back “after he got his life together.” Alexander is returning to The Garden after 14 years. The once-promising middleweight was released from Boonville Correctional Center, after serving 11 years of an 18-year sentence for, among other things, first-degree robbery.

Since then the older brother of former WBC and IBF champion Devon Alexander has been adjusting to a better lifestyle.

“I prepared myself all 11 years so it was a smooth transition from me being in prison all that time to here,” Alexander told RingTV.com. “I never allowed myself mentally be in prison, I always knew I’d be back here. The first day I got out of prison I was back in the gym.”

Tickets range from $50 to $300 and are available at TicketMaster.com and the Madison Square Garden box office. The event is promoted by Main Events, Krusher Promotions and World of Boxing in association with EC Box Promotions and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing at 10:05 p.m. ET/PT.

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SPORTS Main Events Boxing: Kovalev v Mikhalkin at #TheaterMSG on March 3!

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