Russian power puncher Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev, 18-0-1, 15 KOs, attracted much attention the last time he fought on NBC Sports Network FIGHT NIGHT. Kovalev garnered a new stable of devoted fans by crushing Lionell Thompson in a scheduled 10-round light heavyweight fight last September, and looks forward to earning more fans when he faces former champion Gabriel Campillo, 21-4-1, 7 KOs, on January 19th. Their 10-rounder is the main event on the first 2013 edition of the popular nationally televised FIGHT NIGHT boxing series. The telecast begins at 9 PM ET.
If Kovalev can keep winning and creating buzz in the boxing world, his star is sure to rise.
"Fans had a chance to see me in the ring (on NBC Sports Network) and now people talk more about my fights," Kovalev said. "Even my family, friends, and fans in Russia saw my last fight live."
Kovalev’s fan-friendly, aggressive, heavy-handed style is exactly what boxing fans look for in a fighter. He’s handled everyone he’s faced in the ring so far, but Campillo will be the stiffest test of his career.
"He is the strongest, most talented opponent in my professional career," Kovalev said. "In my opinion he should be the champion after his last fight."
Campillo’s last bout was a controversial decision loss to IBF light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud. The Spaniard’s slick southpaw style caused Cloud fits. So Kovalev is determined to be ready to neutralize his capable opponent, and avoid the mistakes made by Cloud.
"Southpaws have the stronger left hand, but I have the stronger right," Kovalev said. "The only problem with fighting left handed fighters is getting good sparring partners. Everything else is the same."
If that is the case, and Kovalev can score another impressive stoppage, he’ll move closer to a title opportunity and join the current crop of top-flight Eastern European boxing talent presently dominating the sport.
"During the Soviet Union years, professional boxing was forbidden, and all we had were amateur boxing talents," Kovalev said. "In the last 15-20 years, professional boxing has become very popular. I came to the States three years ago when I turned pro. Now I live in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida."
He’s making strides in the ring, and likes his new home. "Fort Lauderdale is 80F degrees and sunny," Kovalev said. "Chelyabinsk (his Russian hometown) is 3F degrees and snowy. I do miss my family and friends back home, but this is my job. I train at (trainer) John David Jackson’s Ft. Lauderdale Gym. He doesn’t speak Russian, but in our sport we understand each other with motions and movements."
Krusher expected to face Campillo in September, but a back injury forced the former champ to postpone the fight. Kovalev isn’t sweating the delay.
"We athletes all can have injuries and bad moments," Kovalev said. "It’s good the fight is happening now. Time will tell who the better fighter is."
We will find out on Saturday.