Sergey Kovalev hoped to make his mark in the light heavyweight division by facing tricky, dangerous veteran and former world titleholder Gabriel Campillo tonight on NBC Sports from the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. After a third round stoppage win, it's safe to say that the Russian has arrived as a contender at 175 pounds.
Kovalev (20-0-1, 18 KO) dominated the opening two rounds, but slow starts are nothing new for Campillo (21-5-1, 8 KO), and there was no major surprise, other than perhaps how well Kovalev was fighting. And instead of letting the Spaniard get warm and start making any waves in the bout, Kovalev hurt Campillo with a shot early in the third, and took over from there.
Campillo first went down on a flurry of blows near the ropes, dropping to his knees. He was down again moments later in the corner, being worn out by an aggressive Kovalev. The third and final knockdown came on a final rush, with one straight right hand putting Campillo on his back.
We said before the fight that if Kovalev could convincingly defeat Campillo, it would be huge for his credibility. It doesn't get a lot more convincing than this, and everyone at 175 should know that there's a new player in the division, with big power in both hands, and a killer instinct you just can't teach.
In his middleweight debut, Curtis Stevens knocked out Elvin Ayala in just 70 seconds, and it should have been quicker than that. Stevens landed a monster left hook that flattened Ayala, who got to his feet pretty quickly but really had no idea where he was, staggering and holding himself up with the ropes.
For some reason, referee Tony Chiarantano took this as a good sign, and allowed Ayala to take a few more shots from Stevens, who finished off his opponent moments later. After the fight, Stevens was jumped by someone from Ayala's corner or team or fan base or whatever, but that didn't get very far. There was no reason to let Ayala continue after the first knockdown, really; he wasn't responding to Chiarantano's commands and clearly was out on his feet. It was dangerous. Stevens improves to 23-3 (17 KO), while Ayala drops to 26-6-1 (12 KO).