The fun, glorious stuff has already taken place– Sergey Kovalev scored a one-sided shutout of Bernard Hopkins using his size, strength, and most importantly, unflappable will and focus. He has added Hopkins’ WBA and IBF belts to his own WBO strap.
Everything happened perfectly for the “Krusher” and the passing of the torch from aged legend to dominant younger star was smoother than anyone ever imagined.
But now reality is ready to slap Team Kovalev in the face.
Who, exactly, is there to fight?
In a perfect world, Kovalev-Hopkins would lead right into a shot at lineal champ and WBC titlist, Adonis Stevenson. But, of course, boxing is far from a perfect world.
Stevenson, who jumped from HBO to Showtime in pursuit of bigger paydays and, quite possibly, a chance at facing Hopkins first, was left out in the cold when Hopkins tired of the Stevenson-Al Haymon hustle and reached over to Team Kovalev and HBO.
Stories will differ as to Stevenson’s willingness to ever face Kovalev, but the fact of the matter is that Stevenson-Kovalev seems poised to be this next era’s Mayweather-Pacquiao. It’s very unlikely that someone will be able to navigate through the dense fog of boxing politics and bad blood to put this contest together.
The Haitian-Canadian powerhouse is still having a tough enough time signing on to a bout with his WBC mandatory and fellow Haitian-Canadian, Jean Pascal. With Dmitry Sukhotsky directly ahead of him on December 19 and the Pascal fight being pushed for the first half of 2015, it would probably be safe to say that Kovalev is not on Stevenson’s mind at all.
For Kovalev, this is extremely bad news since there is, almost literally, nobody for him to fight. IBF mandatory Nadjib Mohammedi is a nothing fight and WBO no. 1 contender, Jean Pascal obviously wants the bigger, richer all-Quebec showdown with Stevenson.
Germany’s “regular” WBA light heavyweight champ Jurgen Brähmer is an option on paper alone because of Brähmer’s ability to earn at home with much less challenging opposition.
Every option left for the heavy-handed Russian is significantly less appealing than what he has already faced in his rise to the top. Canada’s Colombian import Eleider Alvarez? Cuba’s Umberto Savigne? A recycled Beibut Shumenov, Lucian Bute, or Isaac Chilemba? None of these fighters are challenges and, realistically, none are money-generators.
All of this means that, very soon, Kovaelv’s career-high payday last Saturday night (reportedly over a million dollars) will dip into the mid-six-figures.
And while the money will be decent, Kovalev as a competitor and provider to his family would have to have one eye focused on the multi-million dollar possibilities of facing Adonis Stevenson or, at the very least, of facing second-tier opposition for richer purses, just like Stevenson.
Maybe Kovalev will simply soldier on, loyal to Main Events/HBO and content with fighting for money he never imagined possible even two or three years ago.
Whatever business dictates, Kovalev has made a strong case for himself as the “real” light heavyweight champion and history will regard him favorably in this Kovalev-Stevenson debate if they should never meet.
But the only way to the big money is through Stevenson. How that may influence the future of Krusher Kovalev is anyone’s guess at this point.