WBO light heavyweight
Date : November 25
Kick-off: LIVE TIME
At New York(HBO)
Sergey Kovalev is making his return to the ring Saturday, hoping to recover from his first career losses at the hands of Andre Ward. He’ll be in action against Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, live on HBO for the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight Championship.
It promises to be an excited card overall, with Sullivan Barrera vs. Felix Valera and Jason Sosa vs. Robinson Castellanos on the televised portion of the card.
Kovalev is fighting for the first time since he lost a pair of fights against Ward. He now sits at 30-2-1, still one of the absolute best boxers in the world, but coming off a TKO at the hands of Ward. The first fight was close, with many thinking Kovalev won it, but with an eighth-round finish, Ward claimed his spot as the top boxer in the division.
There has been a lot of the blame game from Kovalev’s camp. The 34-year-old has beaten a slew of top competitors, but at the end of the day “top competitors” in this division includes a lot of people who could be considered also-rans. But Ward has called it a career, retiring at the age of 33, so is Kovalev now the best light heavyweight in the sport?
On paper, it seems that way, with guys like Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack his only real competition in that realm. The Shabranskyy fight should tell us a lot about where Kovalev is and where he goes from here while still not being a squash match. Shabranskyy has one loss on his record, to Barrera, and while he’s the underdog, there is some danger here for Kovalev.
There’s no pick from the folks over at Bad Left Hook, but they gave the matchup a B-minus grade and had this to say:
Kovalev should win, but a Shabranskyy upset wouldn’t be the most shocking thing to happen in boxing this year. Here at SB Nation, we’re going with the safe pick of Kovalev, though it all really depends on his mindset. If he’s at his best, Shabranskyy can’t touch him. If he’s shaken by his recent losses, then he’s toast.