Sergey Kovalev was impressive this past Friday on NBC Sports, stopping Lionell Thompson in the third round, and has signed a multi-year contract with Main Events as a result.
Kovalev (19-0-1, 17 KO) says he's ready for the best in the light heavyweight division, and he definitely looked dangerous against Thompson, but there are still several levels to climb to get into serious contention. The Russian fighter has no-frills approach with big power, and at 29, he's probably at least a little further along than his pro record would indicate thanks to a solid amateur background.
Kovalev's manager Egis Klimas said that the bigger promoters out there passed his fighter over, so they signed with a company that believes in Kovalev's talent:
"I knocked on many doors: Golden Boy, Top Rank, and more. However, no one took it seriously that Sergey Kovalev will be the next big champion in his weight division. But Main Events has the same beliefs. They did take us seriously. We signed with them, and we are very happy with our decision."
While it would be easy to scoff at the idea of someone signing with a smaller promoter because they supposedly see something the big guys don't, there's a fighter out there right now who was in the same position a few years back, and it was Lou DiBella who took the chance on him after the giants passed. That guy's name is Sergio Martinez.
Not that I'm saying Kovalev will be the next Martinez, mind you, but Top Rank and Golden Boy have passed on gems before, and they may have done it again here.
Related: Ryan Bivins on press row in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania