A virtual unknown less than 12 months ago, hard-hitting Sergey Kovalev is one fight away from challenging for the world light-heavyweight title.
Kovalev, of Chelyabinsk, Russia, takes on Cornelius White, of Houston, TX, in a scheduled 12-round elimination fight on Friday evening, June 14, at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem. The winner becomes the No. 1 challenger for the IBF crown, currently held by Bernard Hopkins, of Philadelphia, PA.
The Kovalev-White contest is part of a triple header to be televised live as part of the NBC Sports Network Fight Night series. Other televised matches, set for 10 rounds, feature heavyweight Bryant Jennings, of Philadelphia, vs. Andrey Fedosov, of Shuya, Russia, and welterweight Ronald Cruz, of Bethlehem, vs. Ray Narh, of Brooklyn, NY.
Now living in Fort Lauderdale, FL, the 30-year-old Kovalev has been tearing through the 175-pound division in the last year. His 20-0-1 record includes 18 knockouts, including a three-round destruction of former world-title challenger Gabriel Campillo, of Spain, on Jan. 19 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. That fight also was aired over the NBC Sports Network.
A pro since 2009, Kovalev will be making his third appearance at the Sands, where he previously knocked out Darnell Boone, of Youngstown, OH, and Lionel Thompson, of Buffalo, NY. The only non-win on Kovalev’s record came when Grover Young, of Memphis, TN, was unable to continue due to an accidental foul in the second round of their 2011 fight at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, CA.
White, 31, is 21-1, 16 K0s, having lost only to Donovan George, of Chicago, IL, when he (White) boxed as a super middleweight for the only time in the last four years. Fifteen of White’s 16 knockouts have come in the first three rounds.
In his last fight March 9 in Costa Mesa, CA, White earned an eight-round decision over Otis Griffin, of Sacramento, CA. Prior to that, on July 14, 2012, at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, NV, White won the IBF International Light-Heavyweight Title by scoring a 12-round decision over Dmitry Sukhotsky, of Barnaul, Russia.