Live on Box Nation from 02:00 in the early hours of Sunday morning, the hard-hitting Sergey Kovalev defends his WBO, WBA and IBF world light-heavyweight titles against stable-mate Nadjib Mohammedi at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Kovalev v Pascal Tale of the Tape
Segey Kovalev: 27-0-1 (24 KO)
Following a string of early knockouts after debuting in 2009, Kovalev was picked up by Kathy Duva’s Main Events promotional company, who organised a title shot against the then undefeated – and, at the time, highly rated – WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly.
Kovalev easily stopped Cleverly in the fourth round to win his first major professional boxing title. Three successful title defences followed, all finishing within the distance and two in the second round. Now rated as one of the elite hard-hitters in boxing, and a man many other fighters wanted to avoid given his power, Kovalev was then offered a title unification match with the evergreen WBA and IBF champ Bernard Hopkins.
A man who’d lived a clean lifestyle and kept himself in superb physical condition at the age of 49, Hopkins had defied the odds many times in the past, but fighting Kovalev proved to be a step too far. Indeed, it was quite apparent that Kovalev was going to win easily after he’d hit Hopkins a few times in the first round of their bout.
Rather than going for the knockout, though, Kovalev took his time with Hopkins, continually landing a few punches and moving out of range so that the wily veteran couldn’t try to clinch and use his head or elbows, as he’d done so often throughout his career.
Kovalev simply played it safe, but it was slow and brutal one-sided destruction of a sure-fire boxing hall of famer and, if they hadn’t already, the sporting world sat up and took notice. Then, in his next bout, ‘Krusher’ faced off against a man who’d never been stopped in former WBC light-heavyweight champion Jean Pascal.
A notoriously tough fighter – as evidenced by his brutal bout with Carl Froch at super-middleweight a few years ago – Pascal presented a real test for Kovalev, but despite making a fight of it, the Canadian-born Haitian couldn’t cope with the Russian’s power and was stopped in the eighth round of their March 2015 bout.
Of course, the problem for Kovalev now is that he’s virtually peerless at his weight, and even WBC champion Adonis Stevenson has so far avoided singing to meet the Russian in the ring, so his opponents will generally be mandatory challengers and unknown fighter’s looking for a payday.
Nadjib Mohammedi: 37-3 (23 KO)
Like Kovalev, 30-year-old Nadjib Mohammedi is promoted by Main Events, which – along with the fact that nobody of note wants to fight Kovalev – is why he’s getting this title shot. With a short amateur career behind him, Mohammedi turned pro in 2005 and won his first thirteen bouts.
Winning the vacant at the time French light-heavyweight title in his next fight, Mohammedi made five successful title defences before being stopped in a round by Thierry Karl in late 2009. Rebounding by winning his next three bouts, Mohammedi became European light-heavyweight champion after stopping Tomas Adamek. Mohammedi only managed one successful defence, however, losing on points to former WBO light-heavy champ Nathan Cleverley straight after.
A comeback win followed for the Frenchman, but he was then stopped in two rounds by Dmitry Sukhotsky. To his credit, however, Mohammedi has since won thirteen bouts in a row, becoming a two-time French light-heavyweight champion in the process.
Kovalev v Mohammedi Betting
WBO, WBA and IBF champ Kovalev is offered around 1/100, while challenger Mohammedi is available around 20/1. In terms of method of victory, Kovalev is priced at 1/12 to win by KO/TKO or DQ, or 7/1 to win on points, while Mohammedi is generally 33/1 to win by KO/TKO or DQ, or 33/1 to win by a scorecard verdict.
The Kovalev v Mohammedi Betting Verdict
Well, we know that Kovalev has no equal in his weight class, so a lightly regarded stable-mate challenger like Mohammedi shouldn’t cause him too much trouble. Of course, with Kovalev priced around 1/100 to win, we can’t back him outright. Neither can we back him to win by KO/TKO at a very short 1/12 price.
Instead, noting that both of Mohammedi’s stoppage losses have come within two rounds, we’ll back the Russian to win in rounds 1-6. It’s the shortest price I’ve ever tipped, but I don’t fancy backing him to win rounds 7-12 and since he’s such a hard-hitter, and a points win looks out of the question.