1 Bernard Hopkins (UD 12)
Despite the fact Hopkins was almost 50 by the time he boxed Kovalev in 2014, normal rules don’t apply to ‘The Executioner’. Old but not over the hill, he was coming off decision wins over Beibut Shumenov, Karo Murat and Tavoris Cloud when Kovalev put him in check.
2 Jean Pascal (TKO 8 and RTD 7)
Kovalev first beat Pascal in 2015, stopping him in eight rounds, before going one better in the rematch and getting the job done inside seven. Both times Kovalev travelled to Montreal, Canada and silenced the Bell Centre crowd with his seek-and-destroy style.
3 Eleider Alvarez (UD 12)
Alvarez was 23-0 when he shocked the world and stopped Kovalev inside seven rounds in 2018. Most assumed Kovalev was finished as a result but, six months later, he managed to prove the doubters wrong when outpointing Alvarez in the return.
4 Nathan Cleverly (TKO 4)
Little was known about Kovalev when he arrived in Cardiff, Wales in 2013 as Nathan Cleverly’s latest WBO light-heavyweight title challenger. But it didn’t take long for Cleverly’s team to realise they had made a grave error bringing him over.
5 Isaac Chilemba (UD 12)
Kovalev’s 2016 victory over Chilemba saw him return to the Ekaterinburg venue in which Roman Simakov had been fatally damaged in 2011. Though it wasn’t vintage ‘Krusher’, few are able to look good against the awkward Chilemba and at least, from Kovalev’s point of view, demons were exorcised.
6 Igor Mikhalkin (TKO 7)
Mikhalkin, the European light-heavyweight champion, was on a run of 10 straight wins when he met Kovalev for the WBO title in 2017. The fight took place in Madison Square Garden, New York and Kovalev reigned supreme, winning inside seven rounds.
7 Blake Caparello (TKO 2)
Caparello was undefeated in 20 pro fights when tasked with testing a still relatively unproven Kovalev in 2014. The Australian scored a flash knockdown in round one but was then stopped in the following round once the WBO champion found his groove.
8 Nadjib Mohammedi (KO 3)
Veteran Frenchman Mohammedi had won 13 in a row when he challenged Kovalev for the WBA, IBF and WBO titles in 2015. His good form came to an end, though, once Kovalev dropped him in round two and finished him in the third.
9 Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (TKO 2)
US-based Ukrainian Shabranskyy met Kovalev at Madison Square Garden, New York, in 2017 and was broken down and stopped inside just two rounds. It marked his first and so far only shot at the world title.
10 Cedric Agnew (KO 7)
In a bloody battle at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Kovalev was cut over the right eye from a headbutt in the fourth round, then cut over the left eye in the sixth, but still went on to apply the first loss of Agnew’s 26-fight pro career in the seventh.