SERGEY KOVALEV: GUESS WHO’S BACK
By Xavier Porter – www.brooklynfights.com
November 27, 2017
Brooklyn, NY (The Theater at Madison Square Garden):
The arena was set (The Theater at Madison Square Garden). The network (HBO BOXING) produced the event. The promoters (Main Events, Golden Boy Promotions, Peltz Boxing, Krusher Promotions) provided the fighter(s). What took place next was a complete and utterly dominating performance by a former world champion, who may have seemingly regained his position as the man to beat in his division. What also took place during this televised fight card was a grueling matchup between two light heavyweights, both looking to solidify their position, to once again fight for a world championship belt. And finally, fight fans were privy to witness a hard-fought battle between two former world champions, with many in attendance believing that one fighter clearly one this battle and was given he wrong decision.
12 ROUNDS – WBO/IBA/EBP Light Heavyweight Title
Sergey Kovalev, Chelyabinsk, Russia (30-2-1, 26 KOs) vs. Vyacheslav Shabransky, Kiev, Ukraine (19-1, 16 KOs)
Many world champions have come back from defeat in their careers to once again become a world champion. Boxing’s history has shown and proven it time and time again. Kovalev, the former WBO Light Heavyweight Champion, completely dominated an under matched opponent Shabransky in two quick rounds, scoring a total of four knockdowns, that put not only the referee on notice, but also every other fighter in his division that he’s back and ready to regain his position as being the best of the best of light heavyweights.
Shabransky, to his credit, came out the gate, looking to land power shots as he caught the eye of Kovalev early. In describing “caught the eye”, it means he put Kovalev on notice that he was ready to fight as he landed a couple of hard shots early in the first round. However, the skilled veteran and former world champion Kovalev kept his composure and landed a jab that drew blood from the mouth of Shabransky. Kovalev measured his distance and quickly used a straight righthand counter attack over the lead left jab of Shabransky.
As Kovalev continued to apply this great technique he found himself landing precise punches to head and jaw of Shabransky. “The Krusher” scored two devastating knockdowns in the first round which gave notice that he was on his path in stopping his opponent. During the second, Kovalev wasted no time in delivering the same technique as he continued to blast away at his opponent, scoring another knockdown and a series of headshots, which caused the referee to call a halt to bout at two minutes and thirty-six seconds of the second.
With his precise accuracy and punching power, Kovalev has regained his status as the man to beat in his division, an accomplishment that many great champions have done also after being defeated in their career.
Sergey Kovalev (The New WBO/IBA/EBP Light Heavyweight Champion)
“I’m back,” Kovalev said, “I trained hard, mentally and physically for this fight.”
“The last fight, I was stopped by a decision by the referee. Here, tonight, was great boxing for me.”
“I love boxing and I want to make good fights. It’s my goal to be best in the division. I’m happy that the belts have different owners and it makes everything interesting and we can make better fights. We have a bunch of belt holders and we can now find out who is the best. I am ready for any champion – because this is very good for boxing.”
Everyone, thank you for support and believing in me. I took this chance because I wanted to take it. I took opportunity because I don’t back down from one. I’m unbroken but very disappointed in my performance. Last night I learned big lesson and now it’s time for me to rethink and adjust many things. I appreciate everybody’s comments. I will be back!!!!
10 ROUNDS – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS
Sullivan Barrera, Miami, FL (20-1, 14 KOs) vs Felix Valera, Santo Domingo, DR (15-1, 13 KOs)
A fight where both men landed powerful left hooks, trading knockdowns in the first round, and fighting through adverse low blows, it was Barrera who came away with the unanimous decision victory from the judges (98-88, 97-90, 97-89). Both men traded power punches throughout the entire bout, with Valera fighting from both the orthodox and southpaw stance, often landing punches from different angles. During the eighth and ninth rounds, both men were deducted a point for low blows. However, in the tenth round, both men went to war as they each landed powerful punches with the focus of securing a victory.
Cuts from both his left cheek and left eye did not deter Barrera from taking the fight and winning a hard-nosed victory from the former interim WBA Light Heavyweight Champion. With his victory, Barrera is primed to challenge for a world championship tile, as well as Valera who fought hard, and who came into the fight with just one loss on record, previously beaten by the current WBA Light Heavyweight Title holder Dimitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) who was also in attendance to witness his fellow opponents in combat.
“It was a tough, awkward fight,” Barrera said. “I have beaten two of the three light heavyweights shown on HBO. I’m just waiting to finally get the opportunity I deserve.”
10 ROUNDS – Super Featherweights
Yuriokis Gamboa, Miami, FL (27-2, 17 KOs) vs Jason Sosa, Camden, NJ (20-2-4, 15 KOs)
In a hard-fought matchup between two former World Champions, it was the victor Gamboa who came away with the spoils of war. In fact, it was the crowd, the fans in attendance, and many viewers ringside who were in disbelief when the scorecards were read (96-93, 95-93, 94-94), proclaiming Gamboa the winner by majority decision.
Gamboa, the former (interim) WBA Lightweight Champion, former WBA Super Featherweight, and former WBA, IBF Featherweight Champion was quick and showed good boxing skill; very similar to the greatness that he displayed previously during his Olympic and world championship career. Gamboa, who took the fight on short notice, weathered the continued assault from Sosa and has once again shown he’s a threat to any top ten fighter or current champion in his division.
Sosa, the former WBA Super Featherweight Champion, pressured Gamboa throughout the bout, while landing hard right hands which led to him scoring a knock down on Gamboa in the seventh round. Gamboa, who appeared to be off balance, was gifted with a clean “one-two punch combination” by Sosa which delivered the knockdown.
Sosa continued to pressure and attack Gamboa but was quickly met with a headbutt by the veteran champion. During the ninth round, Sosa landed a hard-right hand to the jaw of Gamboa, which enforced the Cuban Olympian Champion to clinch and grab his bearings.
Both men fought hard during the tenth round, with Gamboa being deducted a point for a continuous clinch.
As the scorecards were read inside the packed auditorium, the sound of boos echoed louder and louder as Gamboa took home his victory.
Both fighters shared their thoughts on their tough battle:
“It was a god fight,” Gamboa said, “Sosa gave a great fight and has a great heart.”
“I didn’t have enough time to train. I only had three weeks. I didn’t have time to get ready. I needed two or three more weeks to lose the weight correctly. Except for the knockdown and the point deduction the decision was good. I think I won every round.”
“That’s boxing,” Sosa said, “I was a fun fight.”
“I took some breaks, but I thought I did enough to win. I know I did enough to win the fight. I didn’t get hurt at all during the fight. I spar with middleweights, so that was nothing.”
The tale of this fight card has shown and proven many things. Listed below, fight fans can expect to take place in the near future:
- Both former World Super Featherweight Champions are still a force to be reckoned with in their division. Also, with the number of skilled fighters, up and coming prospects, and current champions in their division, expect both Gamboa and Sosa to be returning to the ring very soon in separate competitive fights.
- Barrera, who has faced and went a full twelve rounds with the now retired and former WBA, WBO, IBF, RING Light Heavyweight Champion of the World Andre Ward, fought another tough competitor Valera. Valera continues to be a dangerous opponent to any fighter in his division. The former (interim) WBA Light Heavyweight Champion, who’s only loss coming into this bout was against the current WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Dimitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) packs a punch and possesses an unorthodox skill.
- Kovalev, who calculated and precisely knocked out Shabransky, has shown and changed the landscape of boxing. Now back at the top of food chain Kovalev is still hungry and continues to want to face any opponent who dares to challenge him.
all photos courtesy of:
- Darryl J. Cobb Photography
- Matt Heasely Photography
- HBO Boxing
- Main Events/David Spagnola