No one in boxing today has a more fitting moniker than “The Crusher” Kovalev. Sweet science old adage to hit and not get hit is not his philosophy. The man goes into the ring with one thing on his mind – to crush you. If you don’t believe me just ask some of his latest victims like former champ Nathan Cleverly or Ismayl Sillah. Sergey “The Crusher” Kovalev didn’t just beat them up; he crushed them and their respective careers into pieces.
” This is boxing,” said Kovalev on Thursday during a media day at Big Bear, California designed to promote November 8th light heavyweight unification bout with Bernard Hopkins:” It’s not running, it’s not swimming, it’s fighting.” But what really stuck in my mind was what Sergey said on HBO prior to his fight with Blake Caparello. To paraphrase it Kovalev said that he sacrificed and worked really hard in preparation for the fight and now somebody is going to have to pay for it.
Please, do not be confused by his angelic smile, this is a threat of extreme violence which was promptly delivered on poor Blake Caparello in the second round of their recent encounter. Perhaps boxing saved society from yet another violent felon. Wait, just because a man has an edge doesn’t mean he has violent tendencies. Why do I say that? My first encounter with Kovalev’s actions in the ring convinced me of that.
It was about three years ago at the famed Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. In the second stanza Kovalev’s glancing body blow rendered his opponent Grover Young unconscious. The fight was stopped. Visibly upset Sergey was running around the ring and yelling obscenities in Russian and egging his opponent to get up and fight like a man.” This is not a prize fight. This guy will gladly fight for free,” I thought.
Crusher also talked to Ismayl Sillah in the ring, while administering a violent beat down. He begged former amateur stand out from Ukraine to get up after a knock down, so that he could kick his ass. Even the fight with Roman Simakov that took place in December of 2011 in Russia did not change Kovalev’s attitude and violence in the ring. This fight was not widely publicized by American media because it took place in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Kovalev brutalized his opponent for seven rounds until the fight was stopped and Simakov was taken out of the ring on the stretcher and taken to a hospital. Roman Simakov never regained consciousness and passed away a few days later. Kovalev did express his sincere remorse…
Tragedies like that usually adversely affect boxer’s careers. I can think of a few recent examples. Jesus Chavez was never the same after Lavender Johnson expired following their vicious battle. Robert’s cousin, Javier Garcia needed physiological counseling after his fatal six rounder with Jackson Bussell. Javier was never the same after that.
This has not been the case for Sergey Kovalev. He continues to crush his opponents like a wrecking ball on the construction site. Next in his way is a doctor of sweet science, an ageless wonder, Bernard Hopkins. Despite of his advanced age of 49, Hopkins opined that he eats guys like Kovalev for breakfast and he has history to back it up. Veteran Hopkins has tasted defeat a few times throughout his hall of fame career. He has been beat, but never beaten up, just out boxed or out pointed. Could Crusher be the first to do it? And if so, what is the strategy?
“I don’t have any strategy,” said Kovalev whose wife Natalia is expecting to have their first baby, any day now:” I just go into the fight. What will happen will happen. I am not scared to lose; I’m not scared to win. This is a sport. But Hopkins is a legend. He is the professor of boxing. He’s a very proud man as a boxer. He’s very smart, he’s very technical. It will be very difficult to fight him and for me it will be very big test. I’m ready for any test in my life.”
Their twelve round unification championship fight will be televised by HBO live from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. History will be made, one way or another.