After losing his unbeaten record to Andre Ward last year, Sergey Kovalev insists that he's ready to write a new chapter in his boxing career.
On March 3rd, the Russian defends his WBO World Light-Heavyweight Title against Igor Mikhalkin in New York, which will be his second fight since losing to Ward last June.
Their first meeting in November 2016 ended in a tight decision win for the American. However in the rematch, Ward controversially stopped Kovalev with a barrage of body shots.
The Russian was rocked in the eighth round, and after referee Tony Weeks waved off the fight Kovalev complained that some of the final blows were below the belt.
"For me, it would be better if Ward stopped me himself, [if he] dropped me on the floor and the referee started the count," Kovalev told SecondsOut.
[Image credit: Bloody Elbow]
'Krusher' bounced back in November to reclaim one of his old belts that Ward vacated when he retired, and he now admits he is a smarter fighter after suffering his first defeats as a professional.
"I've already forgotten about what happened. What happened, happened for a reason. This situation has taught me that I should use [the] boxing gym and sport more every day. Not like I was before. God sent me Ward like a test. Right now, I'm a little bit smarter already with this situation," he added.
Next up, Kovalev takes on Mikhalkin at Madison Square Garden Theater, and insists he is not overlooking his fellow Russian.
"He's a southpaw. That's already a little uncomfortable, because for a long time I haven't fought a southpaw. Also his style can be uncomfortable for me too.
"Also, he's Russian. In Russia, mentally we don't have a step back. If for you [it's] very hard, you cannot say, 'No, stop. I don't want to fight anymore'. He will be fighting from first bell to last bell, because he's motivated right now. He's never fought for a real World Title."
Buy BoxNation to watch Sergey Kovalev, plus Dmitry Bivol v Sullivan Barrera on March 3rd.