Sergey Kovalev has built up a small but vocal fan base due to his destructive wins on the NBC Sports network in the past handful of months, and now the "Krusher" is set to fight for his first world title, as he's signed to face Nathan Cleverly on August 17. HBO and BoxNation will televise the bout from Cardiff, Wales.
Kovalev (21-0-1, 19 KO) said via press release that he wanted a world title shot immediately, and he took the first real offer that he received. Kovalev was named mandatory to Bernard Hopkins' IBF belt on Monday, but indications were that Hopkins was not going to happen, despite his publicly saying he'd take the fight.
Golden Boy and/or Showtime did not like the bout, with Richard Schaefer wondering if it was an "attractive" fight, hilarious since he had signed off on Hopkins vs Karo Murat, a fight that was canceled recently, and Showtime's Stephen Espinoza cited budget/venue/time concerns about making the fight a reality.
So Cleverly (26-0, 12 KO) and the WBO title became the focus, and promoters Frank Warren and Kathy Duva got the deal done.
"My goal has always been to win the world title as soon as possible," Kovalev stated. "So I decided to take the first opportunity that was offered to me. And I have dreamed for many years about fighting on HBO. I look forward to going to Wales to fight with Cleverly and I congratulate him for accepting this challenge."
Duva, who said she wanted to make the deal and avoid having Kovalev fight for a vacant IBF belt, feeling Hopkins would ditch the title and target Cleverly himself, believes the fight will be worth the price of admission.
"Sergey is very excited to get the chance to win his first world title on August 17th in Wales," she said. "This cannot help but be a non-stop, all-action brawl. The real winners will be the fans who get to watch this great fight in Wales, on HBO in the United States, Box Nation and throughout the rest of the world, including Sergey's home country of Russia."