Sergey Kovalev V Dmitry Bivol: All The Stars



Sergey Kovalev V Dmitry Bivol: All The Stars
Pic by David Spagnolo

The stars are out this morning. All of them, in the sun without a moon in sight.

Before you go there– this is not “Russian collusion”, or any other man-made attempt to polarize reality with confusion or fantasy. The only interference on this night was from an American with a Cuban missile crisis, along with the illusion of a heavyweight championship defense that would've offended Muhammad Ali.

I dont write for no reason…

…Don't they fight for all seasons?

Know of tears that drip floods in a bloody ring space… 

Starfalls of grace make the case for 


But if it feels good, keep it away from me

If a real lion decides to ride

I'll write my


Me I'm running out of time

It is rather easy to be brave from a safe distance away with a ringside view. This is especially true of any journalist disinclined to pugilistic delineation of fact. He has never spilled blood, so he always writes in a fiction blue…it just so happens to rhyme with true.

It’s good to see grizzled fight veteran wise guy Rich Mancuso. Seated next to me is columnist and former combat participant Luiz Cortez, who's not so much extolling the virtues of his opinions out loud, in as much as he's processing things from the perspective of a fighter. A fighter facing the specter of Dmitry Bivol. I think I'm looking at an A-fighter due to supernatural desire.

“He's not that good. I mean…he's basic,” offers Christian Camacho, seated next to Cortez. A diamond descendent from the rough of all-time great Hector “Macho” Camacho, the hottest underground king in the game is breaking shit down during round 2.

“Yeah, but he's ‘superbasic' with resolve and purpose,” I observed, none of us breaking watch of Bivol's sinister and systematic 12th round FOTY-like dismissal of a brave warrior in SullIvan Barrera. Earlier in the day, an uber-confident Barrera had taken to Twitter and told Tweetville that he would ‘castigate and humble' Bivol, to which I opined that this was reverse psychology; that it was he who would in fact be humbled before castigation. And he was, but not before giving the best account of himself…Ever.

This Barrera was not a slow starter against a reckless Felix Valera last November in the same venue, and was decidedly better than the one I witnessed LIVE at The Forum in Inglewood, CA last summer, against a Joe Smith Jr. that had alienated and executed the legendary Bernard Hopkins. Bear in mind that both of those Sullivan Barrera editions were better than the one Andre Ward faced in March 2016. Ward made that Barrera better– which is what the 3.3.18 version of Barrera just made Bivol.

Based on what I saw on Saturday night — and the rugged, unbalanced performance of a flawed Sergey Kovalev, whose dimensional “Krusher” mugged and turned comrade Igor Mikhalkin into a crimson Red Skull in the 7th round — that Barrera would've beaten Sergey Kovalev convincingly. He would've also introduced the “Son of God” to Hell, before divine intervention got him out of there.


In many respects, Saturday's telecast of HBO Boxing After Dark was a victory for women in the boardrooms of boxing, along with ever unfolding ideas of “Main Events” from a fan perspective. At its most primal, the sweet science will mimic the predatory playing fields of lions. Who better understands this Serengeti than a lioness? Because it is a company lead by intrepid women of this variety in a male dominated industry, only the most keenly observant would know that they were responsible for all of the majestic testosterone on display at MSG.

Call it a woman's intuition, but they just fucking know who's best fit to defend their honor, like they know what ringcard girl best tells the world that she is a pussycat with pride only to be hoisted by winners.

I met Dmitry Bivol at a rather sensational media gala in November 2017, just before Sergey Kovalev played “Wicked Games” with Vyacheslav Shabranskyy like a song by The Weeknd. There was an intuitive and distinct element of imperial swagger that went beyond any Olympic status; his body language was a veritable surround sound system of ambient aura and transcendence. People with an “It-factor” do shit like that. He seemed super villainous in a way that would make Daniel Craig's 007 develop anxiety. If Kovalev is a wounded James Bond (and he is), then Bivol is “Dr. Know” with a license to kill.

Andre has been Ward for so long that he needs to be warned: Don't fuck with Dmitry Bivol. Learn from your predecessor Roy Jones Jr., who talked himself into defeat against Antonio Tarver. Bivol is a looser, faster and more athletic version of a younger Gennady Golovkin; he has spectacular conditioning with sudden power into the championship rounds. He may possess the best jab in boxing, a weapon far better than the one Kovalev used to give Ward so many problems in November 2016. Dmitry Bivol would pitchfork Andre Ward.


As if the fight gods timed this perfectly and brought all the stars closer, Deontay Wilder V Luis Ortiz invaded laptop screens of press row inside of MSG during the intermission before Kovalev V Mikhalkin. We watched. Anyone who read the ESPN Insider scoop on this fight from Johnny Wild and read my take, knew that I saw this as someone in a Bomb Squad inserting coins into a rigged video game of Donkey Kong.

Standing next to me is former unified middleweight world champion Kelly Pavlik. We talk about his new venture “Punchline” and I encourage him to contact Michael Woods about doing a segment on Talkbox. My boy David Yi with Fight Chronicles gets animated as Wilder is getting rocked and exposed. Not for one minute do I think Ortiz is going to win.

I'm paying particular attention to the press corps, wondering if many of them aren't more fans excited to be there for free, as opposed to actual journalists paying attention for future dividends.

I'm generally careful of anything that is free, and knew of media who actually based their decision to cover Wilder V Ortiz because of a buffet and better “perceived” entertainment. That is not journalism and diminishes independent press. But fuck it, I digress. I ate the press kit in front of me, sipping on fighters I may not have known had it not been for new Main Events PR addition Gayle Lynn Falkenthal.

Canelo V GGG at T-Mobile in September 2017 was a memorable affair for sure. Though a good fight, the actual memory of the event was a great personal experience because of my interactions with Gayle during the fight. A consummate professional and a total “fight guy”, there are few men or women more knowledgeably astute in all of boxing. Once she'd informed me of her involvement with Main Events– though based out of San Diego, it became clear that Kathy Duva was serious about taking Main Events into the future.


There was a symmetrical synergy between the PR staff and the HBO production which translated to the press. I meet all of the fighters with a mutual enthusiasm of urban creed. Ismael Villareal, a 20 year-old aspirant from the Bronx, opened the card and is now a 2-0 pro who will risk his life to find out what he's made of. He won– and we cared. That matters.

Khazahkstani enforcers Madiyar Ashkeyev (9-0, 5KOs) and Meiirim Nursultanov (6-0, 5KOs), both winners on Saturday night, are bringing thunder to Oxnard, CA outside of that produced by Robert Garcia and his stable of fighters. In these fighters, Egis Klimas has two warriors committed to risk and a made for TV “Big Drama Show”. By the way, they think Golovkin returns to a tyrannical GGG on May 5 for Canelo II.

Frank “Notorious” Galarza (19-2-2, 11KOs) and Leshawn Rodriguez (9-0, 7KOs) took alternate routes to victory with higher and lower stock lines about as different as the Dow Jones. Vaughn Alexander V Devaun Lee offered the suspense match-up that the press info indicated it would, along with some wild trash-talking that was audible from ringside.

I turn around and ask Nicole Duva if those 10 losses on the record of Alexey Evchenko (16-10-1, 7KOs) is real. They were. But the fact that he fought like he was protecting an unbeaten record speaks volumes for the promoter. The metaphorical inference being that no one should ever be given up on.

No one.

Perhaps the most interesting fighter who landed on my radar the other night, was the curious case of a charismatic heavyweight named Cassius Chaney (12-0, 6KOs). A former basketball player who started striking heavy bags in earnest at age 24 because of bad knees, Chaney is enough of a badass to believe he can get any heavyweight to take a knee. I see he's backed by Lorin Chvotkin, someone I have high respect for; clad in orange n white, it was fun watching him turn a Debo-like Tim Washington into a 270lb melting creamsicle.

There's flashing light bulbs on all of them, despite any negatives developed in the rooms of dark minds.


The bright lights in The Theater hovering above the ring felt like stars we come to see at night and talk about in the morning. But it’s   the dim lights in the distance that eventually overtake the older stars… we just don't always know who they are.

Some of us won't care.

I'm totally out of The Garden, thinking I'm sooo hip 7th Avenue in :30 before I walk by Gayle and her can't-miss cryptic smile. “Are you sure you got all the stars?” She states this moresovlthan asks.

“Umm…   …   … Yeah,” I say with a fair degree of confidence.

“But you do want to interview a pair of 2016 Olympians, right?” asks a not-quite-done Nicole Duva, out of like…nowhere, before handing me the worst handwriting I've ever seen in my life from a beautiful woman. I tease her about it. But because she doesn't take herself too seriously at all, she can take the job of building fighters that way. A missed opportunity is the winning punch unthrown.

She knows something about these fighters.

Five minutes later, The Bronx Chronicle was able to put together enough footage on Murodjon Akhmadaliev and Shakhvam Giyasov to have a story. I need :30 to start gathering an impression. They have March 10 pro debuts at Kings Theater presented by Evander Holyfield's “The Real Deal” Boxing in association with World of Boxing.

Akhmadaliev isn't completely present at the raffle, but there's something about this Giyasov's energy and aura that's familiar….  Dmitry Bivol familiar. He's a veteran of over nearly 330 amateur fights having lost 22 of them, mainly because his style is more suited for a pro game Mike Tyson would call “The Hurt Business”. Veteran trainer Joel Diaz felt it too, believing this is a Soviet Tim Bradley with massive power.

Sometimes they'll fall out of the sky into a sea of extras, all wearing the same clothes of the size. And because they're different…

The sweet science will know.

Senior correspondent for NY Fights and author of upcoming book, "The Fist Club." Conscious indie recording artist "T@z" and humanist advocate for the Green Party.