IN an era when good fighters magically become great ones thanks to clever marketing and short memories, Sergey Kovalev forged his reputation by challenging his contemporaries and then bludgeoning most into submission. No character tweaks were required for Kovalev as he played only himself during his first reign as light-heavyweight king. Even now, at the age of 36, Kovalev just wants to get in the ring and do what he has done impressively for large parts of his journey.
This Saturday, the feared Russian, surely in the climactic scenes of his storied career, returns to his motherland to overcome the challenge provided by Britain’s boastful Anthony Yarde. He looks to defend his WBO title, a belt that has been dear to Kovalev since he won it for the first time in 2013.
Back then, Kovalev arrived in South Wales as a mysterious but largely unproven danger man, to challenge Nathan Cleverly. Team Cleverly hoped he would be a stepping-stone for the young Welsh king, which now sounds bizarre when one assesses their respective careers since that hot August night six years ago. Kovalev brutally displayed the alarming gulf between world class and elite level as he decorated the ring inside the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff with Cleverly’s outgunned frame.