Sergey Kovalev got off the schneid tonight on HBO, ending a two-fight losing streak (both losses to Andre Ward) and gaining the vacant WBO light heavyweight title with a two-round smashing of Vyacheslav Shabranskyy.
Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KO) dropped Shabranskyy (19-2, 16 KO) twice in the opening round and again in the second, before referee Harvey Dock finally jumped in to stop a fight that had become completely one-sided in a hurry.
With the win, Kovalev, 34, regains his standing as arguably the top light heavyweight in boxing after Ward’s retirement, putting himself in the conversation alongside the likes of Adonis Stevenson and Dmitry Bivol, in a division that, despite its champion retiring this year, is still very interesting.
As for Shabranskyy, 30, what can you say? He was totally overwhelmed here, and he’s been beaten down in two losses to Kovalev and Sullivan Barrera, top of the line fighters at 175.
But there are fights for him out there that could be interesting, and more importantly, could be entertaining television. He’s almost certainly not going to be a world champion without some luck and clever maneuvering, which boxing has plenty of, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a valuable fighter.
The story here, though, is Kovalev. He’s back, he looked strong, and now, hopefully, we’ll see him take on bigger challenges in 2018. There are potential fights out there with Adonis Stevenson, Dmitry Bivol, and Artur Beterbiev, all of which would be great main events on paper.
.@KrusherKovalev krushes @Shabranskyy with two knockdowns in Round 1. #KovalevShabranskyy pic.twitter.com/cJ6ygSo8YH— HBOboxing (@HBOboxing) November 26, 2017
.@KrusherKovalev ends things early with an emphatic two-round KO victory. #KovalevShabranskyy pic.twitter.com/02jiItc0eA— HBOboxing (@HBOboxing) November 26, 2017