News September 2013

HBO to sign up Kovalev following KO run to title

The Summer of The Knockout

By Sonee Thompson

Kovalev kO Cleverly

There were great bouts throughout the summer but before we dip our gloves into fall (it’s still summer in Florida) I thought we’d reminisce. You’ve heard of the summer of the shark, the summer of the heat wave, this was the summer of the KO!

One of my favorite rude awakenings of the summer was when darkhorse Sergey Kovalev led by ringmaster John David Jackson rolled into Cardiff gangster style and ploughed through Nathan Cleverly like an 18 wheeler convoy to decisively claim the WBO light heavyweight title in four rounds.

Kathy Duva, the astute business woman and promoter heading up Main Events has indicated that HBO would be signing Kovalev to a contract. Therein one shot of adrenaline the network desperately needs. Kovalev (22-0-1, 20 KO) was an imposing force when compared to Cleverly’s bouncy, uptight movement.

Cleverly (26-1, 12 KO) was in deep waters from the get go, appearing unfocused and unsure of himself. I think the force of Kovalev’s mindset which had nothing to do with defense was overpowering for Cleverly. It was fight on from bell one and Cleverly had to jump on the train or get run over on the tracks. The pace took a toll on Clev because when he’d drop the hands Krusher K would ring his bell landing vicious rights to the head and when Clev went gloves up, Kovalev would punish the body. Twice Kovalev caught Cleverly with wicked blows to the organs, dropping him to the canvas. With John David Jackson in the corner barking words of wisdom, all Kovalev had to do was wait until Clev was winded and seize the moment.

The referee Terry O'Connor was no help whatsoever. I thought he was stopping the fight and he was simply in the way. Kovalev could have obtained the knockout at the end of the third round if O’Connor hadn’t blocked him. And he wasn’t definitive in the notification of stoppage or continuance. If you’re not stopping the fight – why are you standing between the fighters? Cleverly wanted no more and was grasping on to Kovalev in desperation at the bell for the start of round four.

Kovalev must have watched the Cleverly vs. Bellew fight and licked his chops, seeing that he got hit in the fight by a mediocre fighter. Kovalev knew what was going to happen. But did Clev watch anything on Krusher because he did not look well prepared, mentally or physically. Did anyone notify him that his title was on the line?

All in all it was a poor showing but the good news for Clev is that he is young and a good fighter who can rebound with better training and preparation and he really needs to up his work rate in the ring. He is slow and too hittable and his head movement is non-existent. You can’t counter against a puncher like Kovalev and survive. He was simply dominated by a superior fighter in Sergey Kovalev. In his weight division - but out of his league. News flash Clev – other promoters exist.

Now what’s next for Krusher and crew? B Hop – everyone wants that right?

HBO analyst Roy Jones Jr. voiced his opinion about a possible KK-BHop encounter during the fight by saying he thinks Kovalev did the right thing by choosing to face WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly rather than Hopkins, because he felt that Cleverly didn’t have the power or experience to give Kovalev problems the way that Hopkins would.

So what does that say for a future matchup between The Executioner and this newcomer? Jones Jr. said on HBO “Yes, I think he [Hopkins] could [beat Kovalev], mainly because Kovalev is a big puncher who comes straight ahead, and who looks to destroy you with every punch. That plays directly into Bernard’s hands. So I think he could definitely hold his own with a guy like Kovalev. Going up against Hopkins is not smart for Kovalev. He’s not good at going over 8 rounds, so why would you go into the ring with a 50-year-old assassin who is very experienced in going those rounds when you can take a younger guy who doesn’t have a very big punch.” Let’s be real, Kovalev would take that fight in a heartbeat on money alone, not to mention the elevated stage. A sensible mind would say wait awhile, fight Adonis Stevenson and progress in your skill. A young hungry soul says “Me want victory….NOW!” Sometimes experience is the best teacher.

Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KO) was due to face Karo Murat on July 13 in Brooklyn, but that fight was canceled when Murat, the former IBF mandatory, had visa issues getting into the States. October 26 is the new proposed date for that bout scheduled to happen at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. If Hopkins wins that fight, the pressure to fight Kovalev will intensify and a decision will have to be made. For now, the world has been formally introduced to another powder keg fighter who is poised make a huge impact on the Light Heavyweight division.

The next Summer KO Shocker was on Showtime Championship Boxing at the Stub Hub center under the stars in CARSON, California on a warm August evening. Just as everyone’s digesting the newly exposed power of Sergey Kovalev comes hardcore, hard-hitting Jhonny Gonzalez (55-8, 47 KO's) registered a stunning 2:55, first-round knockout taking out previously unbeaten Abner Mares (26-1-1, 14 KO’s)(Aug. 24, 2013) . Many say this was a candidate for Upset of the Year - and possible Knockout of the Year.

Gonzalez shocked the world with this historic upset victory for the WBC featherweight title fight. Could Leo “everybody wants a piece of me” Santa Cruz (25-0-1, 15 KO's) be next?
Leo was busy taking care of business with defending WBC super bantamweight champion Victor Terrazas (37-3-1, 21 KO's) in the co-feature. I’ll get to that battle in a minute and I do mean a minute because that’s about how long it took Jhonny G to TCB.

Gonzalez and Mares both came out on the offense, swinging hard and aggressive, but about midway through the opening round, Gonzalez connected with a clean left hook that caught Mares by surprise, dropping him to the canvas and resulting in an eight-count which he beat. However, when the action resumed, Gonzalez released a clip of punches that culminated with a left hook and devastating right cross that knocked Mares backwards. Referee Jack Reiss stepped in and stopped the fight with five seconds to go in the first round.

"I knew I had him badly hurt after the first knockdown," Gonzalez said.

Mares, another good guy in the game of boxing showed his professionalism and humility by saying
"You have to win and you have to learn how to lose in this sport. I'm not in the sport to remain undefeated, but I'm here to fight the best.” This fighter we will see again soon!

Earlier that night another fighter I’ve enjoyed interviewing, Leo Santa Cruz took on Victor Terrazas of Argentina. Terrazas got in trouble early with Santa Cruz who smelled blood in the water during the third round. Terrazas went down for a nine-count, and then again for an eight-count midway through the third. Referee Lou Moret stepped in at 2:09 of the third round. Done deal. An honorable mention occurred at the beginning of summer, appropriately enough “on the boardwalk”. This KO came courtesy of Argentinean machine, Lucas Mathysse bringing the hammer down on Lamont Peterson. Get your tool belt ready, Danny.

Now let’s all prepare for the Super Bowl of boxing next weekend – THE ONE. The odds are great with two mega fights on the card – one has to bear fruit.

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