When Vyacheslav Shabranskyy takes to the ring on November 25 in New York, he’s going to be the underdog. Everyone knows that.
But this is also a once-celebrated prospect, whose only pro loss (to Sullivan Barrera) continues to look better, as Barrera has emerged as a top light heavyweight contender himself.
So Sergey Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KO) is up next, with the vacant WBO light heavyweight title on the line. Kovalev has his own troubles — he’s lost two straight, both to Andre Ward, and has had drama in his training camp, switching trainers from John David Jackson to Arbor Tursunpulatov.
There are questions to be asked of Kovalev, 34, at this point in his career, too. Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KO) will look to provide answers, and his training camp has included work with two reigning titleholders.
“Dmitry Bivol and David Benavidez have helped me a lot with sparring,” the Ukrainian fighter said at his media day. “They come to the gym and they give me real work. We just train real hard and help each other. It's great being able to spar and train with these champions.”
Shabranskyy, 30, knows the level of opportunity he has with this matchup.
“This is a very big event. Fighting for a world title — it's all or nothing,” he said. “Right now, I'm not thinking about (Kovalev). I'm not thinking about what he has done or what he is doing. I'll see him on November 25, and then after the fight, I'll tell you about him.
"I was so excited when I found out this bout would be for a world title. I had accepted the fight before knowing it would be for a world title. We got the call from his side and we took the fight. But then the WBO called and we were very excited. I'm very hungry and prepared to win."