SergeyKovalev

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LAS VEGAS — It’s hard to imagine now, but at one point, no promoters were interested in Sergey Kovalev.

His manager Egis Klimas tried with all his might to no avail. He would lobby promoters to watch his guy, told them he was the real deal, a Russian who could punch like a mule. But no one — not Bob Arum, nor Oscar De La Hoya — bit.

Enter Kathy Duva.

She noticed the talent and immediately knew she had hit the jackpot. Kovalev has been destroying fighters ever since he signed up with Totowa, N.J.-based Main Events in 2012. He holds three light heavyweight titles and owns an exclusive contract with HBO. “Krusher” makes the fifth defense of his championship against mandatory challenger Nadjib Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KOs) on Saturday (10 p.m. ET, HBO), and even though the challenger is as much as a 40-to-1 underdog, Kovalev tells USA TODAY Sports it’s easy to get motivated for these fights.

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