REPORT From SERGEY KOVALEV COMEBACK FIGHT Presser
Sergey Kovalev told the assembled media at a Thursday press conference to hype his Nov. 25 fight against Slava Shabaranskyy that he is “clear headed” following back to back losses to Andre Ward and that he looks forward to coming back to the ring better than before.
The Russian terminator got solved by Ward in back to back fights, and interestingly, coincidentally, the looming figure of Ward was present even more literally than his figurative impact was felt.
Hours before the Main Events presser at the Renaissance Hotel, talking up Kovalev’s first NYC bout, Ward announced he was retiring from the ring, after turning pro in 2004.
But of course, the 30-2-1 Russian, was asked about Ward, and the retirement and the timing.
“I don’t care,” he said, when asked if he thought Ward’s timing was meant to upstage him.
Eyes will be on the hitter to see if, indeed, he has bounced back from the last two fights, espeically that rematch, which saw him being stopped. He told us that through “osmosis” he thinks he can come back even better than before. (Yes, I double checked, he spoke of osmosis. Kathy Duva told me his English improved even more after being in Russia following the second defeat.)
And with who in his corner? The boxer and trainer John David Jackson split in a messy divorce. He has chosen a new trainer, Kovalev stated, but isn’t ready just yet to tell us who. His camp starts Monday in California, and that tutor will be present, so maybe that gives us a hint of who he will be working with. “Have patience,” Kovalev counseled. (Duva told me we will learn when Sergey decides it is time. “Who knows,” she said, of timing.)
The Nov. 25 foe, Slava Shabranskyy, also got some time at the mic. He is promoted by Golden Boy, and the Ukrainian offered solid English as he thanked all for the opportunity. Eric Gomez, the Golden Boy exec, told me what sort of chance Slava has to beat Kovalev. “Puncher's chance,” he told me.
Ward, more than Slava, was in the room, however. Kovalev was asked about the Oaklander several times, and it is clear he does not hold him in high esteem. “I don’t think about Ward at all, I’m looking forward,” he declared, when asked if he’d been disappointed that the possibility of a third fight wouldn’t materialize. (There would not be a strong market for that tango, anyway, I don’t think.)
Kovalev said Ward leaving is “good for boxing,” because now title fights can be made for 175 belt, ones involving more “interesting” boxers. Duva told me, regarding the looming availability of title shots, “Still fighting Shabranskyy in November. But Sergey will undoubtedly be in line for a title shot soon. So will Sullivan Barrera and Dmitriy Bivol. Should be an interesting few months!”
“I will be back stronger than I was before,” was repeated refrain from Kovalev, and eyes will be trained on him to see how he bounces back on Thanksgiving weekend, which HBO rep Ray Stallone said has proven to be a fan and market friendly destination for televised prizefights.
Main Events boss Kathy Duva told us that in fact it still isn’t easy to find people willing to fight Kovalev. Calls were made and calls weren’t returned, she said. But Golden Boy got back to Main Events within the hour when asked about Slava’s availability.
Note: Duva promised a solid undercard and said matchmaker Jolene Mizzone is the best in the biz at delivering that. We will be seeing the return of “The Brooklyn Rocky” Frank Galarza underneath the Kovey comeback, I do believe. And we should know more about who else after Main Events runs their show in CT Oct. 5.
My take: Kovalev is 34. He told us he isn’t right now keen to try his hand at cruiserweight, being that he’d be a small cruiser. Ward retired, he said, because his desire waned. Has Kovalev’s, if given sodium pentathol, would he cop to that? That would be excusable, he’s been a pro since 2009 and he’s now made enough to be comfy. His ego, is it now too dented, has his pride taken on a fatal hit? He is “The Krusher.” Or…was he the “The Krusher” and is he now a more mortal sort?
We will be offered an answer, I think, come Nov. 25.