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20 MARCH 2018

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Kovalev And Bivol Dominate At MSG

pic David Spagnolo, Main Events
pic David Spagnolo, Main Events

By Derek Bonnett


On an evening stacked with world class boxing in New York, Madison Square Garden housed a pair of light heavyweight bouts with serious divisional implications. Sergei Kovalev, the de facto number one in the aftermath of Andre Ward’s retirement,  sought to remain winning and possibly regain some of his stature after his 2017 stoppage defeat against Igor Mikhalkin. Dmitry Bivol, a likely ascender to the number one position, met danger-man Sullivan Barrera. Both match-ups were contested for the world titles in the 175-pound class.


Against his fellow countryman, Kovalev was aptly focused on cutting the distance with his jab to find a home for his bone-breaking right. Mikhalkin, 32, came forward and fulfilled Kovalev’s sadistic desire in spite of being unbeaten since 2010. Both right hand and left cross landed with great familiarity and marked up the countenance of Mikhalkin. Kovalev dictated the action round by round and proved himself to be quite elusive, stepping under Mikhalkin wild counters effortlessly. With lacerations beneath the right eye and across the bridge of the nose, Mikhalkin presented himself as an easy target. Referee Steve Willis ended Mikhalkin’s title challenge following a visit to the ring-side physician in round seven.


Officially, the contest ended at 2:25 of round seven. Kovalev added the first title defense of his newly regained belt and extended his win-streak to two. Overall, Kovalev’s dossier stands an imposing 32-2-1 (28). Mikhalkin fell to 21-2-0 (9).



Pic David Spagnolo, Main Events
Pic David Spagnolo, Main Events

In a much more compelling match-up, Dmitry Bivol surpassed the expectations of even his most ardent supporters with a thorough domination of Sullivan Barrera before ending matters in round twelve. Early on, Bivol got the better of the exchanges, often punctuating his sequence with a solid left hook. His right hand also did damage in close while under fire. Bivol’s one-two, cadenced and almost repetitive throughout, stung Barrera on numerous occasion before the Cuban could raise his hands from his previous offensive. A left stung Barrera in the twelfth and a right hand sat him down on his trunks. Always game, Barrera rose, but was spared further punishment at the 1:41 mark. Referee Harvey Dock officiated the action.


At the time of the stoppage, Bivol was pitching a unanimous shut-out. Bivol, 27, remained unbeaten and retained his version of the light heavyweight title. The career best performance on his path of destruction moved Bivol to 13-0-0 (11). Barrera fell to 21-2-0 (14).


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