Three Likely Opponents Next for Sergey Kovalev

By Matt Andrzejewski on August 25, 2013

Sergey Kovalev has the boxing world on notice following his recent destruction of Nathan Cleverly to win the WBO Light Heavyweight Championship. Almost immediately following that win, thoughts turned to what the future may hold for Kovalev. While big fights against Adonis Stevenson and Andre Ward are possibilities down the road, what’s next for Kovalev is a bit up in the air. In the piece below, I will examine the three fighters who I feel are most likely to next step in the ring with Sergey Kovalev.

Mikkel Kessler

Mikkel Kessler tops the list of likely opponents next for Sergey Kovalev. Kessler is a former world champion and big name in the sport. In his most recent bout, he gave a tremendous effort in a close decision loss to Carl Froch.

Kessler has all the makings of an ideal opponent for Kovalev. Kessler’s name alone would be a big draw for boxing fans. HBO, who seems to have a major interest in Kovalev’s career, would probably be willing to pay good money to air the bout. And this fight could really be a headliner in a number of different locations both in the US and worldwide.

Kessler has a style that would seem to suit Kovalev well. He is not a mover and more often than not is willing to exchange with his opponents. This would seem to play right into Kovalev’s hands. In addition, Kessler would be coming up in weight to face an already naturally bigger Kovalev. In theory, Kessler’s punches may not have the same impact on a big Light Heavyweight that they would have on a Super Middleweight.

Another factor that has to be taken into consideration is that Kessler is not what he once was. So this makes him all the more enticing to Kovalev’s team as an opponent.

Kessler is a big name who fights in an ideal style that could make Kovalev shine. Thus, in my opinion he serves as an ideal candidate to face Kovalev next. 

Andrzej Fonfara

Andrzej Fonfara is another likely foe for Kovalev. Fonfara has not lost since 2008 and has added some decent names to his resume in recent years. In addition, he fights in a style that is very fan friendly thus making it very likely that HBO would be very interested in the fight.

Fonfara also draws a crowd in Chicago. We do not know yet the ticket sales ability of Kovalev on his own but fighting Fonfara in Chicago would certainly draw a crowd. And as we saw in Fonfara’s recent appearance in Chicago against Gabriel Campillo, the fans Fonfara brings are very passionate boxing fans which would make for an incredible atmosphere.

As stated earlier, Fonfara fights in a very fan friendly style. This style, though, should make him very suitable from Kovalev’s management team’s perspective.

Fonfara is not a mover and is more than willing to stand and trade with his opponents. He also has some fairly large defensive liabilities including not moving his head much and standing squared up in front of his opponents. From Kovalev’s management team’s perspective, this could not be a more perfect opponent for their fighter to shine against.

Fonfara will be the IBF mandatory and may opt to hold out for a year (or longer) to wait to fight for that belt. But if Kovalev’s team calls, I certainly think Fonfara will listen. If a fight with Kessler cannot be made immediately and the money is right for Fonfara, the odds are good the he will be in the ring next with Kovalev.

Juergen Braehmer

Juergen Braehmer is a true wild card in the hunt for Kovalev’s next opponent. Braehmer is the top ranked contender by the WBO at Light Heavyweight. So he seems like a natural choice. But his recent history suggests he may not be willing to go forward with the bout even as an eventual mandatory. And if he were willing to face Kovalev, where would the fight take place and would HBO even be interested?

Braehmer is a name opponent and a former WBO Light Heavyweight Champion. He has won nine fights in a row since losing to Hugo Hernan Gray in 2008. He has also never been stopped in his 43 professional bouts.

He does, however, have an enigmatic history. Braehmer never lost his WBO Light Heavyweight Championship in the ring. He was stripped after he pulled out of a mandatory fight with Nathan Cleverly the week of the fight. Braehmer had also previously pulled out of a bout with Beibut Shumenov on just three days’ notice. In addition, Braehmer has a history of trouble with the law in Germany.

Another question here is whether or not HBO would accept Braehmer as the opponent given his past issues. There would of course be substantial risk that Braehmer accepts and ultimately pulls out of the bout. And where would the bout take place? Braehmer has never fought outside of Germany and may have issues traveling due to his past legal problems.

The only reason Braehmer is on this list is that he is the top ranked contender by the WBO. If the WBO enforces the mandatory and Braehmer wants the fight, then Kovalev and his people will have to make a decision particularly if HBO is not interested.

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  1. Kid Blast 04:41pm, 08/28/2013

    Good stuff

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