Ahead of Sergey Kovalev’s eighth defence of his world light-heavyweight belts next Monday afternoon – screened live on BoxNation – Glynn Evans selects six steps that helped cement the Krusher from Russia’s rep as one of the most violent hitters on the planet.
Ekaterinburg, Russia, December 2011
Kovalev first served notice of the dreadful damage that his fists could impart in an intended homecoming against compatriot Roman Simakov at the same DIVS arena where he performs on Monday night.
His 27 year old opponent tragically lapsed into a coma after being stopped in round seven and never awoke.
Though he refuses to discuss the disaster, Sergey showed he could be as sensitive as he can be sinister, by paying for Simakov’s folks to fly to Ekaterinburg and then donating the entire purse from his comeback fight six months later to the fallen fighter’s family.
However, far from leaving him scarred or gun shy, ‘Krusher’ has ravished 11 of his subsequent victims inside the distance.
Connecticut, USA, January 2013
Slick Spanish southpaw Gabriel Campillo was fresh off a perilously close defeat in an IBF title tilt to Tavoris Cloud and was expected to give the rising Russian rumbler fits when they collided at the Mohegan Sun Casino.
Not so! In something of a ‘coming out’ parade screened on HBO, the ‘Krusher’ mowed over the one-time WBA champion in less than three rounds, dumping him to the canvas three times.
A wrecking ball right hand left Campillo in a crumpled heap and sent alarm bells ringing through the 175lb division. The mangled man from Madrid was the first of four world champions that Kovalev has savaged.
Cardiff, Wales, August 2013
Frustrated at his failure to secure lucrative showdowns with either Carl Froch or Bernard Hopkins, WBO king Nathan Cleverly rolled the dice on a home turf defence against Kovalev.....and lost his shirt!
Previously unbeaten in 26 and making a sixth defence of his belt, the boyo from Cefn Fforest had never previously been floored. With ‘Krusher’ still to venture beyond round eight, classy ‘Clev’ clearly planned to prolong the punch-up into the latter stages. He never got close.
The ruthless Ruskie ravaged him to the carpet three times in the nine minutes 29 seconds that the mugging lasted....and left potential future contenders scurrying to hide behind the sofa!
Quebec City, Canada, November 2013
Ismayl Sillah, a 6ft 3in Ukrainian, had conceded just once in 22 and his slate included a threatening 17 stoppage wins of his own. However, he committed the foolish faux pas of awakening the beast within Kovalev with some unsavoury pre-fight trash talk.
Consequently, Komrade Sergey was positively salivating at the first bell and, by the opening seconds of round two, had detonated his nuclear right glove through Sillah’s guard, causing him to tumble ‘as if he’d been shot’ (Boxing News).
Silly Sillah rose tentatively, only for the executioner to drop his axe – another potent right – then unleash a rather ungracious but cathartic roar over his sleeping and suitably humbled antagonist. Point proven.
Atlantic City, USA, November 2014
Surefire future first ballot Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins might have been just two months shy of his 50th birthday but 12 of 23 ‘experts’ polled for the fight programme picked him to expose the supposedly crude and crass ‘Krusher’. They were way out of synch.
Hopkins masqueraded as ‘The Alien’ but succumbed to Kovalev’s extra-terrestrial power; hammered to his haunches in round one and almost run clean out of the ring in the final 90 seconds of the last session....after having the temerity to poke his tongue out at his marauding conqueror.
In between, ‘Krusher’ exhibited hitherto unseen technical smarts to win every minute of every round, bag Hopkins IBF and WBA Super straps and earn the accolade as Ring Magazine’s Fighter of the Year for 2014.
Montreal, Canada, January 2016
Ten months earlier, body-beautiful Quebec based Haitian Jean Pascal had achieved the unthinkable and nicked a few rounds off Kovalev in a lively slug-out that was contentiously stopped – with the home fighter still vertical – in round eight.
The build-up to their replay was fraught with allegations of racism – Kovalev tweeted a photo of a chimp in boxing gloves with the caption ‘Adonis (Stevenson) looks great’. ‘Krusher’ responded by snarling ‘the referee saved Pascal’s life last time!’
To add to the fun, the protagonists had a $50,000 side wager as to whether Pascal would last eight sessions. Kovalev collected, dispensing a brutal beatdown that left the adopted Canadian lumpier than a bowl of porridge and unable to leave his stool, with five rounds still remaining.