Sergey Kovalev, who regained the WBO light heavyweight title with an impressive points win over Eleider Alvarez on Feb. 2 in Texas, will be back on ESPN for his next fight, according to promoter Kathy Duva, which is likely coming in June.
Right now, Sullivan Barrera is in contention to get the shot at Kovalev and the belt. Barrera (22-2, 14 KO) is a former Main Events fighter, so Duva knows him well.
“I like Sullivan a lot, but his management doesn’t always give him the best advice. So now, they’ve called us, so we’ll see. I’m not going to say never — it’s really going to come down to what’s the best option for Sergey. He’s got a mandatory coming up — we’ll have to look into that. That may be the best time to do it.”
If Barrera isn’t the opponent, then at least recording the top ranked WBO contenders were Anthony Yarde, Dominic Boesel, Mike Lee (yes, he still fights), Robert Parzeczewski, and Umar Salamov, with Barrera listed after those names.
Yarde is currently slated to fight Travis Reeves on March 8 in London, and it would be a huge jump for him to go from that level to Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KO). Yarde is a legitimate prospect with some hopes for his future, so that seems unlikely.
Boesel is the current European champion at 175, and that’s really his level. Lee is a guy who went to Notre Dame and Top Rank tried to promote him off that early in his career, and they even conned Subway into putting him into commercials as if he were some sort of celebrity athlete. He’s been fighting professionally since May 2010 and has never fought anyone even near legitimate contender status.
Parzeczewski is a Polish fighter scheduled to face Dmitrii Chudinov on April 6. On paper, he’s no match for Kovalev, either. Salamov is a good, young fighter with one close loss on his record, and a more interesting option than Boesel, Lee, or Parzeczewski, at least.
But Barrera is the best of this group, a legitimate top 10 fighter in the division. He’s not the most fascinating potential opponent — Kovalev would be favored, and for good reason — but it’s a logical fight because of where they both are in their careers.
Part of me does want to see ESPN spend money on Kovalev-Lee, though.