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Sergey Kovalev: One of the world’s best pound for pound boxers

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Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and reporter Erick Inzunza, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, on April 12, 2017 for the third press conference of Ward vs. Kovalev 2 rematch, “No Excuses”.

Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and reporter Erick Inzunza, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, on April 12, 2017 for the third press conference of Ward vs. Kovalev 2 rematch, “No Excuses”.

Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and reporter Erick Inzunza, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, on April 12, 2017 for the third press conference of Ward vs. Kovalev 2 rematch, “No Excuses”.

Erick Inzunza, Reporter

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After the first round, both fighters are weary. The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, is ecstatic. Both fighters, giving it their all. Andre “Son of God” Ward (30-0-0), facing off against Sergey “Krusher”Kovalev (30-0-1). Ward, already feeling the power of Kovalev, as Kovalev knocked him back with a simple jab. The bell rings, round 2 begins. Again, Ward on the defensive and Kovalev on the offensive. As Ward keeps looking for openings, Kovalev knocks him back to the ropes with a jab. Ward circles out of the ropes, and Kovalev walks him down. Ward jabs Kovalev’s body and Kovalev hits Ward with a straight right hand. Ward moves back, Kovalev hunting him down. Kovalev lands two jabs as Ward retreats. Kovalev lands a jab and misses a right hand to Ward’s body. Ward circles around Kovalev and misses a leaping left hook. Ward embraces Kovalev and both are separated. Ward circles around the ring, landing a jab to Kovalev’s body. Kovalev lands three jabs as Ward retreats. Both, hesitant to let their punches go, both studying and waiting for the right punch. Kovalev lands another jab and both throw a right hand. Ward misses with a right hand but Kovalev’s right hand, lands flush on Ward’s skull, which sends him down to the canvas.

“Down goes Ward on a perfect right hand shot!” Exclaims HBO commentator Jim Lampley, “and never has he tasted thunder like that before!”

Ward stands up, smiling. The count reaches 8 and the round resumes, with Ward reaching the end of the round. The fight goes the full 12 rounds and all three judges scored the fight 114-113, in favor of Ward, who won all of Kovalev’s titles that night, on November 16, 2016.

Sergey Alexandrovich Kovalev was ranked in 2016 by Ring Magazine and BoxRec, as the world’s third best pound for pound boxer. Kovalev unified the light heavyweight division, holding the WBO world light heavyweight title since 2013 till 2016 and the WBA and IBF (undisputed) world light heavyweight titles from 2014 till 2016.

Kovalev was born in Kopeysk, Soviet Union (now Russia), on April 2nd, 1983 and Kovalev grew up in Chelyabinsk, Soviet Union (now Russia). Kovalev grew up with a sister and two brothers, who shared the same room as they grew up in a small flat with 2 tenants, in the industrial city of Chelyabinsk. After the USSR split, Kovalev’s family suffered an economic downfall. Both his parents began to work in local tractor factories, which paid half their salary with food and the other half in currency. At a young age, Kovalev washed cars and sold newspapers to help make ends meet.

“All of our neighborhood lived like that,” admits Kovalev, “we never knew if we were living poor or rich. We just lived. I don’t want to cover this up either but me and three or four of my friends used to get on our bikes, go to another neighborhood and rob somebody on the streets.”

At age 11, Kovalev began to box in December of 1994, under the wing of Sergey Novakov. Novakov, didn’t believe that Kovalev had what it takes to become a boxer. He believed other students had more talent and more to offer than Kovalev did. But as time progressed and people defected from the gym, Kovalev stayed, training and focusing.

“Certain circumstances in life,” says Novakov, “make it so that the weakest quit and the strongest carry on.”

A year into Kovalev’s training, his step father passed away from a heart attack. Kovalev admits falling into depression and stopping boxing. His trainer would constantly send people after him and drag him back to the gym, so that he doesn’t lose Kovalev as a human being.

“I told Sergey,” says Kovalev’s mother, “that from now on, he was the only man in the family. He had to take care of his siblings and also help me. He matured quick.”

After 4 months of grieving, Kovalev joined the gym again and rose up the amatuer rankings in Russia. Kovalev won silver medals in the 2000, 2001 and 2004 Russian Junior Olympics, in the middleweight division. In 2005, he won a gold medal in the Russian junior Olympics. Kovalev joined the Russian army and began to box there too, winning a gold medal in the light heavyweight division in the World Military Championships in South Africa in 2005, silver in 2006, gold in 2007. In 2007, he won bronze in the Russian Championships in the light heavyweight division and silver in 2008. His amatuer record ended with 195 wins and 18 losses.

In 2009, a contact in Russia, put Kovalev in touch with a U.S. based manager, Egis Klimas. Klimas flew Kovalev out to Kazakhstan, where Klimas saw Kovalev shadow box for a few minutes, when Klimas signed a contract with him. Klimas couldn’t and wouldn’t make any money off of Kovalev’s name, but he will arrange U.S. based fights and pay for all living expenses for Kovalev in the U.S. Kovalev wouldn’t make any money, unless they found a promoter. So Kovalev, fought his first professional bouts in obscurity. Kovalev knocked out 9 boxers in a row, until he won a Split Decision victory against Darnell Boone (17-15-3). Kovalev went on another knockout streak, until he tied with Grover Young (5-4-0) in mid 2011. Kovalev went on to knockout Roman Simakov (19-1-1) in Simakov’s hometown in Russia, for the WBC Asian Boxing Council light heavyweight title. Simakov lapsed into a coma and died three days later.

In 2012, Kovalev was offered a chance to impress Kathy Duva, a U.S. promoter, when she put him in her undercard against Darnell Boone (19-18-3). Kovalev knocked Boone out in the 2nd round and Kovalev was offered a contract with Kathy Duva. Kovalev knocked out three more boxers, until he was given the chance to win the WBO world light heavyweight title against Nathan Cleverly (26-0-0), in 2013. Kovalev knocked him out in the 4th round, gaining his first world title. He defended his title three times, knocking out all opponents until he fought veteran boxer Bernard Hopkins (55-6-2), for the WBA and IBF undisputed world light heavyweight title. Kovalev won by unanimous decision, knocking Hopkins down in the 1st round. Now a unified champion, Kovalev, defended his titles against Jean Pascal (29-2-1) and Nadjib Mohammedi (37-3-0), knocking both opponents out. Kovalev then fought Pascal a second time. Pascal refused to come out of his corner after the 6th round. Kovalev then won a unanimous decision against Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2). Kovalev then received his only controversial loss against Andre Ward (30-0-0).

“I never think that I would make this far,” says Kovalev in an HBO interview, “I really surprised myself. Everyday I think of it, I passed a really long road to get here. I was born to fight.”

Kovalev, now seeks to avenge his only loss against Ward, on June 17th, in the Mandalay Bay Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, in their rematch named “No Excuses”.

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Keeping Colton High School informed and entertained since 1917
Sergey Kovalev: One of the world’s best pound for pound boxers