LAS VEGAS -- Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev crushed another opponent Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Kovalev, the massive favorite, destroyed the overmatched Nadjib Mohammedi, a mandatory challenger who had done virtually nothing to earn the title shot, knocking him out with ease in the third round of a one-sided blowout.
"I wanted more rounds," Kovalev said. "I wanted him to look like a clown. I wanted him to look foolish."
Well, Kovalev accomplished that last part as Mohammedi looked like a rank amateur in front of a sparse crowd.
"Sergey did what he had to do," Main Events promoter Kathy Duva, who represents Kovalev and Mohammedi, said. "When you get that guy in front of you, you take him out. He was the mandatory challenger and he took him out. Sergey Kovalev is going to be in a mismatch with almost anyone he fights."
Mohammedi was given so little respect leading up to the fight that it was probably a surprise to many that he was still standing after the first round, although he landed virtually nothing in an easy round for Kovalev.
Kovalev, who retained his title for the sixth time, had Mohammedi in all kinds of trouble during the second round. He knocked him down with three right hands and a jab. Although Mohammedi beat the count, he spent much of the rest of the round trying to hold onto Kovalev for dear life, twice hitting the canvas on slips as he wrestled him down.
Mohammedi (37-4, 23 KOs) had nothing to keep Kovalev off. His jab, which had zero snap on it, was lazy and did nothing to keep Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs) from walking right to him. Mohanmedi's left eye was marked up and he was eating punches with little defense to block them.
In the third round, Kovalev, 32, a native of Russia living in Los Angeles, ended the mismatch, dropping Mohammedi, 30, of France, with a right hand and a left jab that appeared to damage his nose. Mohammedi beat the count but referee Kenny Bayless waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 38 seconds.
"I'm very happy that I got the victory," Kovalev said. "I gave my best. I am happy. I told him to stand up. It was a short show. People didn't see boxing."
The knockout ended Mohammedi's 13-fight winning streak.
"I can't my open my eye. After the knockdown I knew I was in a fight," Mohammedi said. "I started to catch him with shots [in the third round]. Kovalev is a skilled fighter and it takes time [to figure him out]. Unfortunately, I got a thumb in my eye."
Said Kovalev, "I don't even know how I got the punch that got his eye. I think I gave a good fight. I just wish I could have had more rounds and given the fans a longer fight."
Mohammedi trainer Abel Sanchez said Mohammedi, who earned a career-high purse of $270,000 to Kovalev's $750,000 (plus additional money from Russian television), was overwhelmed by the big moment of his biggest fight.
"It's Mandalay Bay, it's the lights and the pressure," Sanchez said.
Kovalev landed 67 of 170 punches (39 percent), according to CompuBox punch statistics, and Mohammedi landed just 17 of 96 (18 percent) -- none that did any damage whatsoever.
For Kovalev, it was an easy night at the office following huge victories against elite opposition in his previous two bouts, a tour de force shutout decision of the great Bernard Hopkins to unify three world title belts in November in one of the biggest fights of 2014, followed by an exciting eighth-round knockout of former world champion Jean Pascal on Pascal's home turf in Montreal in March.
Kovalev is expected back in action on Nov. 28 in Moscow in a homecoming fight. He has fought only twice before in his home country, once in 2010 and once in 2011.
Duva said she would call promoter Yvon Michel on Monday and offer the fight to Russian contender and two-time Olympian Artur Beterbiev (9-0, 9 KOs), 30, who defeated Kovalev in the amateur ranks, although that is unlikely to happen. Beterbiev is managed by Al Haymon and his fighters are associated with Premier Boxing Champions and have been banned from HBO, although Duva said HBO was interested in Beterbiev as the opponent.
Whomever Kovalev fights next, it won't be super middleweight champion Andre Ward, who has been discussed as a possible opponent.
"Ward's people [Roc Nation Sports] told me they are not interested in doing it next," Duva said. "They want to fight [middleweight titlist] Gennady Golovkin first."
Beyond the November fight, Kovalev is expected to return to North America in early 2016, possibly for a rematch with Pascal (30-3-1, 17 KOs), who won a controversial decision against Yunieski Gonzalez (16-1, 12 KOs) on the undercard.
"I didn't see the Pascal fight, just a tiny bit," Kovalev said. "It was a good fight. What I saw of the fight, Gonzalez was much better.
"If Pascal is interested in a rematch I am ready. I want to fight this guy, too, Gonzalez. I am ready for anybody. Any fight, any opponent. If the fans want to see the fight and promoters want to make the fight, I am happy to do it."
Of course, he is happy do any of those fights. The question is who is going to want to willingly face the "Krusher"?