Sergey Kovalev will defend the WBA, WBO, and IBF light heavyweight title belts this Saturday night on the road in Montreal, where he'll take on former divisional champion Jean Pascal in a highly-anticipated showdown between two of the top 175-pound fighters in the world.
Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KO) is coming off of his most high-profile win to date, where he dominated the legendary Bernard Hopkins last November on HBO from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. If there remained any doubts about Kovalev's ability before that fight, those were put to rest with the way he overpowered and outboxed Hopkins, who was never in the fight and was dropped in the very first round, with the Russian setting the tone early.
That was the culmination of a rather rapid ascent for Kovalev, 31, who didn't really come into the public eye until 2012, when he mauled Lionell Thompson and Gabriel Campillo on NBC Sports Network shows promoted by Main Events. Another NBCSN win over Cornelius White set him up for his first title shot, traveling to Wales to smash Nathan Cleverly in August 2013, his first HBO fight.
Since then, Kovalev has racked up wins over Ismayl Sillah, Cedric Agnew, Blake Caparello, and Hopkins, all televised by HBO, and he's become one of the fastest-rising stars in boxing.
Pascal (29-2-1, 17 KO) looks to derail the hype train on Saturday, but he's certainly got his work cut out for him, as watching the highlights above indicate.