Light heavyweight world titleholder Sergey Kovalev and contender Marcus Browne have come to terms for a summer fight in New York, multiple sources involved with the bout told ESPN on Sunday.
The sources declined to speak on the record because the fight is not yet signed, but the HBO-televised bout is likely to take place as soon as June 23 but not later than the end of the July. It is expected to take place at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, site of Kovalev's most recent two fights.
Russia's Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs), 34, who lives in Los Angeles, lost his three world title belts to Andre Ward by controversial decision in November 2016 and then suffered an eighth-round knockout loss in their rematch in June. But when Ward unexpectedly retired in September and vacated the titles, Kovalev claimed one of them by knocking out Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in the second round.
Kovalev made his first defense on March 3 against countryman Igor Mikhalkin and stopped him in the seventh round after having a few problems early on dealing with his southpaw style.
After the fight, Kovalev talked about his dislike for fighting left-handed opponents, but Browne (21-0, 16 KOs), a superior opponent compared with Shabranskyy and Mikhalkin, is also a southpaw.
Browne, 27, a 2012 U.S. Olympian from Staten Island, New York, has scored knockouts of fringe contenders Seanie Monaghan and Thomas Williams but will be taking a major step up in competition. He is coming off a first-round knockout of Francy Ntetu on Jan. 20 on the Errol Spence Jr.-Lamont Peterson undercard.
Browne could have had a shot at the 175-pound belt held by Russia's Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs) rather than Kovalev's title. Browne is Beterbiev's mandatory challenger, and the fight was ordered with a purse bid scheduled for Monday. But Browne elected to go for the higher-profile and more lucrative fight against Kovalev, meaning the purse bid is expected to be canceled.