Sergey Kovalev didn't waste much time tonight, doing away with mandatory challenger Nadjib Mohammedi via a crushing third round TKO, appearing to possibly break Mohammedi's orbital bone, nose, or both on a right hand with a left hook for dessert.
Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KO) dominated the opening round in somewhat quiet fashion, as Mohammedi (37-4, 23 KO) tried to stay awkward and keep odd angles for his powerful opponent, with little real success. It wasn't a bad game plan at all for Mohammedi, who had no chance of winning this fight if Kovalev were able to land power shots, and it's hard to keep someone as disciplined and skilled as Kovalev from landing his shots.
Mohammedi went down halfway into round two, but did manage to survive the round by holding and using some veteran savvy, with Kovalev coldly shoving him to the canvas twice, showing his ever-emerging mean streak. In round three, Kovalev again kept a moderate tempo, but once he landed another big right, the fight was basically over. The left hand that followed was just an extra shot, and when Mohammedi crumbled to the canvas, he immediately clutched at his left eye.
The French fighter did get up at the count of nine, but referee Kenny Bayless wisely called it off. This was the expected wipeout, more or less, from Kovalev against an inferior but mandatory opponent. After the fight, he discussed Jean Pascal (who won a debatable decision in the co-feature) and Andre Ward as possible opponents.
"I didn't see the fight," Kovalev said of Pascal's win over Yuniesky Gonzalez. "Just a little bit, like, maybe one or two rounds in the dressing room. It was an interesting fight. In my opinion, what I saw, Gonzalez was much better."
Asked if he did want to do a rematch with Pascal -- a fighter he's called a "piece of shit" recently -- he told Max Kellerman, "If people are interested in Pascal, we're ready. We're ready for any fight. I'm ready for everyone."
And that was much the same as his answer about a potential clash with super middleweight king Andre Ward: "Again, I'm ready for any fighter. Any fights. Any opponent. It's boxing, it's sport. First of all for me, it's sport. If the fans want to see this fight, and promoters will make this fight, I'll be happy."