Sergey Kovalev returns tonight, going to hostile territory in Montreal to face local favorite Jean Pascal, a top contender at light heavyweight and former champion in the division. HBO will carry a live tripleheader from the Bell Centre starting at 9:45 pm EST.
Should you tune in? Of course! And here's why.
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Hey! Do you like Gennady Golovkin? Well, Sergey Kovalev is a bigger version of Golovkin in some ways. Their styles aren't the same, but they are both all-action, heavy-handed sluggers who can also box. Golovkin is sometimes very easy to hit, and overcomes that by making his offense his defense in most situations, hammering away and pressuring to keep opponents from doing a whole lot in return. Kovalev, on the other hand, is very technically sound, along with having legit high-level power. This is a fighter who floored Bernard Hopkins in the first round and had him in big trouble late. If Bernard were not as crafty and smart as he is, then Kovalev would have stopped him.
In other words, if you like watching Gennady Golovkin and you haven't yet gotten a chance to see Sergey Kovalev, this is a guy you want to see. Like GGG, he is appointment television.
2. Jean Pascal is a weirdo
Sometimes fighters are more interesting because of their personalities. Some are stoic, like Wladimir Klitschko. Others put out the bad boy vibe, like Ricardo Mayorga used to do. Pascal is just kind of a weirdo, though. He's an emotional fighter, prone to mistakes when he lets that get the best of him, but he's also jubilantly strange in the way he carries himself. He turns on the angry act both in and out of the ring. This makes him fun to watch, because he's one of the few higher-level fighters who's really kind of unpredictable.
3. Pascal isn't afraid to mix it up
Kovalev is a fearsome fighter who would understandably make most fighters a little hesitant, but Pascal, the weirdo, is not most fighters. Pascal really has no fear, and most likely is going to throw what he has at Kovalev. Pascal may believe that Kovalev's chin has yet to be seriously tested, and he might be right about that, too. Sergey has been in with some guys who can punch, but they were mostly beaten down before they could unleash anything. Pascal is at times an outrageously aggressive offensive fighter. If he comes out winging power shots, it will most likely betray him. (Think Klitschko-Pulev, perhaps.) But if he tags Kovalev, who knows? Pascal has some power, and he's also tough, and takes a very good shot. If you need any proof of that, go back to his fight with Carl Froch, an underrated modern classic.
4. Glazkov-Cunningham: A Potentially Entertaining Heavyweight Fight
It's not going to be Chris Arreola vs Curtis Harper or anything, because for one thing Steve Cunningham has abs like Chris Arreola has tattoos, but Cunningham is generally very fun to watch -- in part because he's both vulernable and extremely resilient. Glazkov will have a size advantage, but a more manageable one than Cunningham often faces as a heavyweight. This is a big chance for both guys -- a win could mean a shot at Wladimir Klitschko, which is probably undoable as a victory, but a great payday and a big opportunity.
5. Vasily Lepikhin
Lepikhin is an emerging light heavyweight prospect who at 29 is polished and with 17 pro fights under his belt, ready to take a crack at being more than just a prospect. He'll get that chance against Isaac Chilemba, a proven light heavyweight who could serve as a strong gatekeeper between for the highest level of the division. Wins over Robert Berridge and Jackson Junior are one thing, but Chilemba is still a decent fringe contender. This would be Lepikhin's best win to date, and it's a great chance to see a potential contender in action on HBO.