Undefeated unified WBO/WBA/IBF Light-Heavyweight world champion Sergey Kovalev successfully defended his world championship for the sixth time in scoring a dominant third round knockout over IBF number one contender Nadjib Mohammedi Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The heavily favored Kovalev began the bout working behind a consistent jab.
Although Mohammedi, a fighter known for having an awkward style and an ability to execute his offense in spurts attempted to frustrate the champion with lateral movement and also attempted to pick his spots offensively, he was unable to disrupt the champion’s offensive rhythm. Kovalev was sent to the canvas in what was ruled a slip early in the second round as a result of Mohammedi stepping on his foot. The champion however, was not fazed by the brief trip the canvas and would respond by dropping the challenger with a series of right hands later in the round.
Mohammedi was able to beat the count, but did not have his legs and was sent down twice more as a result slips. Despite having trouble maintaining his balance, Mohammedi was able to survive the round. The champion would close the show in round three with a right hand, left hand combination that sent Mohammedi down to the canvas. The challenger appearing as though he may have suffered a broken nose attempted to get to his feet, but was counted out by Referee Kenny Bayless at 2:38 of the third round.
Sergey Kovalev advances to 28-0-1, with 25 Knockouts. Nadjib Mohammedi falls to 37-4, with 23 Knockouts.
As this observer stated prior to this fight what makes Sergey Kovalev such a difficult fighter to combat is not only his reputation as a power puncher, but the ability to be tactical in his approach in attacking his opponents. In this fight despite facing a fighter who had the ability to be awkward and to potentially cause him difficulty, Kovalev remained calm and was in command from start to finish. Although Nadjib Mohammedi had won thirteen straight fights prior to this encounter with Kovalev and was ranked in the top five of the International Boxing Federation (IBF), the World Boxing Association (WBA), and the World Boxing Organization (WBO) respectively he was simply unable to deal with the champion’s technique and punching power.
Although some may choose to criticize Mohammedi’s standing as the IBF’s mandatory challenger entering this fight seeing as he was frankly outclassed by one of the hottest rising stars in the sport, it is important to remember that Kovalev is a fighter with an 86% career knockout percentage and he has dominated most of his opponents thus far in his career including future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins among others. Whether or not Nadjib Mohammedi will remain a top contender in the Light-Heavyweight division is a question that will be answered in time.
In the eyes of this observer Mohammedi was stopped by a champion, who is simply just that good and just that dangerous a puncher that to base Mohammedi’s standing as a top contender solely off of his performance in this fight may be a bit of a disservice. It will be interesting to see how Mohammedi will respond coming out of this fight and what effect this knockout loss will have on him going forward.
As for the champion Sergey Kovalev the question remains the same as it did following previous title defenses as well as his unification bout with Bernard Hopkins. Will Kovalev and World Boxing Council (WBC) Light-Heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson meet to determine an Undisputed Light-Heavyweight world champion in the near future?
At the present time no one knows the answer to that question. If an undisputed championship fight against Stevenson is not in the immediate future for Kovalev, it will be interesting to see what other possible fights may be out there for him. On the undercard of Kovalev’s bout against Nadjib Mohammedi, former WBC Light-Heavyweight world champion Jean Pascal returned to the ring for the first time since losing to Kovalev earlier this year earning a hard fought and somewhat controversial ten round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Yuniesky Gonzalez.
Gonzalez consistently brought the fight to Pascal throughout, dictating how the fight was being fought and seemingly outworking the former world champion. Although Gonzalez was the more active of the two fighters, Pascal was the more accurate of the two. Official scores were 96-94 or 6-4 in rounds on all three official scorecards for Pascal in what was an entertaining contest. Even though Pascal, who advanced to 30-3-1, with 17 Knockouts with the victory may potentially be in the running for a rematch against Kovalev at some point in the near future, an argument can be made that Gonzalez, who fell to 16-1, with 12 Knockouts may also be in the running as a potential opponent, despite suffering the first loss of his career.
Although the three official judges had Pascal winning this fight, unofficially I had Gonzalez winning this fight 97-93 or 7-3 in rounds. Even though Gonzalez came out of this fight on the losing end, it could well be a bump in the road for a fighter that could be a potential star in the division down the line.
One should also consider that Kovalev does have two other mandatory challengers in the WBA and WBO rankings. WBA top contender Juergen Braehmer has held interim/regular champion status in the WBA’s Light-Heavyweight ratings for almost two years and is scheduled to face current number fourteen rated contender Konni Konrad on September 5th in Germany.
If Braehmer is successful against Konrad it will be interesting to see if Kovalev will opt to make a second mandatory defense this year if a fight against Stevenson cannot be made. Undefeated current WBO number one contender Dominic Boesel must also be considered as a potential option for Kovalev if a fight with Stevenson is not made in the near future.
An obstacle however, may present itself in determining where a fight between Kovalev and either the Braehmer-Konrad winner or Boesel will take place. All three fighters are based in Germany and may have economic incentives to continue to fight there as opposed to traveling to the United States where the Russian born Kovalev is based.
In this observer’s opinion however, although fighters like Braehmer and Boesel are currently in position to challenge Kovalev for his unified world championship, the biggest fight that can be made in the Light-Heavyweight division currently is one that Boxing fans and experts alike have been calling for. A fight between Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson to determine who is the best Light-Heavyweight in the world.
Whether or not the Boxing world is any closer to seeing this highly anticipated showdown coming to fruition is anyone’s guess. In the eyes of this observer it’s time to make this fight a reality.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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