Unified light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev is coming off two major fights in a row, his brilliant performance in a shutout decision to unify belts against the great Bernard Hopkins last fall and a stirring eighth-round knockout of former champion Jean Pascal in March in an outstanding fight.
While Kovalev’s next fight, a mandatory defense against France’s Nadjib Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KOs) on July 25 (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, isn’t close to the magnitude of the fights with either Hopkins or Pascal, there is one potential fight on the horizon just as big for the Russian slugger that many are already beating the drums for.
That would be a showdown with super middleweight world champion Andre Ward, who is also looking for his own major fight after not having one since his one-sided 10th-round destruction of then-light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson (who dropped down in weight) in September 2012.
Due to a long-standing dispute with his former promoter, Ward has only fought twice since, including his June 20 return from a 19-month layoff in his first fight since signing with Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports. Ward easily dispatched hapless Paul Smith in the ninth round of a one-sided fight at a contract weight of 172 pounds.
By fighting at that weight, Ward said he was seeing how he felt moving up from the 168-pound division he has cleaned out with a clear eye toward eventually being a full-fledged light heavyweight.
While Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) could pursue a fight with middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin, who would move up in weight for the potential fight (also a big one), waiting for Ward at 175 pounds will be Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs), which would be a very attractive fight for fans, a money maker for both fighters and promoters as well as a major fight for HBO.
Although they are a long way from making the fight – not to mention Kovalev fights next week and Ward will have another fight later this year – the camps are moving toward each other and have been discussing the fight.
On a teleconference this week promoting Kovalev-Mohammedi, Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, who promotes Kovalev, was asked about it and she sounded optimistic.
"We have been talking to Andre Ward's people all week,” she said. “And I think we all agree the fight is going to happen. It is just a matter of when. The talks have been very amicable. They are deciding who they want to fight next, and we have Sergey's schedule for his next few fights planned. By the end of next year, maybe a little sooner, you’re going to get to see that fight.
“We’re very happy about that because Sergey has made it clear that he wants to fight the very best out there. You’re talking about a fight between two guys who are both in the top five pound-for-pound in the world. The best fighting the best is what people want to see. That’s the kind of fight that gets everybody excited, the kind of fight that gets our blood moving. So we’re really hoping to be able to complete that deal within the foreseeable future.”
Roc Nation is also interested in making the fight eventually.
“We had some very preliminary conversations,” said David Itskowitch, who heads Roc Nation Sports’ boxing division. “We’re interested in that fight at some point. It’s only a matter of when.”