Sergey Kovalov Out Classes Cedric Agnew

Sergey Kovalov-Cedric Agnew

New York, NYWBO king Sergey Kovalev (24-0 22 KOs) did what was expected over the weekend and stopped a game but limited Cedric Agnew (26-1 13 KOs) in 7 rounds. This victory has lead to speculation by some that Kovalev is primed to go on a rampage through the light heavyweight (175 lb) division without taking names. Although Kovalev is a great puncher and a solid fighter, it’s likely that anyone on his bandwagon might only be on for a short ride for he still has more to prove.


By taking a close look at Kovalev resume, there isn’t much, besides KO power to suggest that he’s the best fighter at 175. The UBF’s ancient Bernard Hopkins (54-6-2 32 KOs), WBA guy Beibut Shumanov (14-1 9 KOs) and WBC (linear) champ Adonis Stevenson (23-1 20 KOs) are all threats who possess arguably better talent and with the exception of Shumanov, certainly have better resumes. So although Kovalev is a likeable and entertaining fighter, he’s currently more hype than substance considering whom he’s actually beaten. If guys like Tavoris Cloud, Chad Dawson, Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal are available, defeating the likes of a couple of them will add REAL credence to Kovalev’s record.


The common argument regarding the greatness and potential of Kovalev centers around the choices of a pending opponent turned foe, the aformentioned Adonis “Superman” Stevenson. Stevenson went on a rampage last year, erasing a loss and earning a light heavyweight title relinquished by former champion Chad Dawson via an exciting first round KO. With both Kovalev and Stevenson having great outings on HBO, it appeared a clash between the two was inevitable.


To the dismay of salivating fans looking for a combustible showdown, Stevenson opted out of an immediate fight with Kovalev and signed with a new manager/advisor, Al Haymon. Haymon is a key figure for many fighters who have appearances on Showtime, the HBO rival network. This in the eyes of many appeared as a duck, as Stevenson seems to be interested in facing Bernard Hopkins.


While some will speculate that Stevenson wants to avoid Sergey like the plague, a reasonable explanation lies in what he is actually setting himself up for and that is a 175 lb title unification with Bernard Hopkins. In the meantime, Kovalov promoter Main Events say they have a signed contract and may sue. A Hopkins fight for Stevenson, who at 36 would nab the highest purse and career and a defining bout against an well aged legend. It’s reasonable that Stevenson wants to get this out of the way while he still can because win or lose, Kovalev will be there.


Kovalev has stopped most of his opponents and has looked relatively good doing so. But that was expected considering the opponents. But what he also did, particularly in his last bout was get touched up a bit and looked lethargic and plodding at times. This is something a defensive wizard like BHOP would eat up and may prove for easy pickings against athletic styles like that of Jean Pascal and Adonis Stevenson. Simply put, Kovalev has to add some more proof to the pudding before he’s ready to be called the best at 175 pounds. Does Sergey Kovalov have the goods? There are several options and time will tell if Kovalev is the real deal or just marketed as one. I for one, am certainly looking to find out.


  • I can’t believe you guys are doubting Kovalevs skills. Kovalev fought like that because he was fighting Agnew who was all defensive. atch the fights when other guys tried to box him. They got trampled. Boone KO’d Adonis and dropped Ward too so … when Kovalev destroyed him the second fight it showed how much he had improved. If Kovalev needs to box, he is more than capable. But he just doesn’t need to that often. because as soon as he hits you .. it’s over. and they ALL know that shit.

  • Not really… Adonis jumped to the more lucrative ship, it is prizefighting.. his resume of opposition, especially recently, compared to Sergey’s ?? Please… Sillakyh and Agnew vs. Cloud and Dawson ?! It is Sergey, at 31 yrs of age, that needs to step up, not Adonis.

  • Adonis jumped ship to avoid pummeling and that is the story.

  • I think all the talk about why Stevenson left HBO (running scared from Kovalev) is speculation. It’s not like Stevenson has been fighting cream puffs his entire career and scraping by on points. He’ll be an extremely live dog against anyone in the division, because he can do what he did to Dawson or can do what he did to Cloud effectively. Can Sergey do what he did to Cleverly, Agnew, Sillah to the best at 175 with absolute certainty? I’m not sure yet. And not sure what would solidify that conclusion for anyone. I think a fight with Stevenson will resemble Lacy-Calzaghe, with Sergey playing the role of Lacy, you’ll see. It might not even be Stevenson that gets the job done.

  • Pedro,
    I really respect your work/opinion but as a former fighter yourself – I dont really get it why you’re so sold on Mr. Kovalev. In another time he would be nothing more than a gatekeeper. Right now he is up there but NOT because he’s that good – rather because the opposition isnt that great.
    If Hopkins would be a couple years younger, I’d take him to school the Russian any given day. Right now I dont want BHop in the same ring because he’ll get old overnight in the next couple of fights if not the next fight. The Murat fight showed me that.
    You’re right about Stevenson’s flaws but even with these flaws I can see him beating Kovalev if he doesnt get caught. He’s faster, still hits hard and moves much better than Kovalev. Also Ward would give Kovalev a boxing lesson – no doubt about that.
    Punching power is great – but if you lack almost everything else it doesnt take much do be exposed.
    If you think about it – Kovalev would have some good matchups a class above lightheavy. Fights against Huck, Hernandez, Lebedev, Afolabi would all be barnburners.

  • Richard,

    I’m referring to “that” type of fighter exactly. Like Mathysse has freakish power but was beaten by Danny Garcia. Can I see Sergey KO’ing Adonis ? Easily. I can imagine him KO’ing anyone with that scary power of his, but I can also imagine someone turning him a bit, stepping back and countering, and using a bit of speed, movement, and Sergey’s over-aggressiveness against him. In spots, he looked sloppy and off balance vs. Agnew.. he also looked easily vulnerable to counters. Its not like Agnew didn’t hit him. I think Adonis is peaking right now and I believe his peak will be a short one too. Right now, I see him beating up and stopping Sergey. How powerful will he be after absorbing power shots from a strong fast puncher for a few rounds ? I’ll bet that power is abated just a tad bit.

  • NiceHands,

    I still contend whoever defeats Sergey will need a chin of granite to do so, as they will eventually get hit. Forrest was a slick boxer too, however, Mayorga of all people beat him twice. Were you referring to that kind of boxer to beat the ‘crude’ one? This guy has freakish power, definitely alters game planning.

  • JW,

    I would love to see him in with tougher competition as well. But pretty sure nobody is clamoring to get in the ring with him, Adonis included. He ran across the street when it came time to find out how ‘crude’ he was. You are right though. This Golden Boy/Arum and HBO/SHO garbage needs to end. If King and Arum could find a way to work together, why not these guys?

  • I’ll take Sergey. Straight hard punches, good chin and hard body puncher. Showed stamina to. The reason agnew spent a lot of time covering up because he felt the power. Stevenson didn’t want to fight. You sign a contract and then don’t honor it? He can talk all he wants he backed out of the fight. I don’t want to see Hopkins fight anybody. Every fight is boring throwing about 20 punches a round.

  • Pedro Fernandez


    You guys are making a big mistake. Adonis has too many inherent flaws to beat Sergey. I’ve laid them out before. Speaking of laid out, that’s why he fled to Showtime. FLED! He had signed a contract.

  • Sergey has poor balance, pretty slow hands, no head movement and is very predictable.. Adonis would fade and roll with his shots and counter well… Sergey would be busted up and swollen after 5-6 rounds… Sergey is a bonafide KO artist, but I think he’ll look ordinary against a fast fighter with angles who can also punch (Adonis). Richard refers to the “only” way of beating Sergey.. please there are quite a few ways to beat a crude power puncher who throws KO punches and doesn’t duck or pivot.. he looks like a slightly tougher and better schooled Edison Miranda

  • Boxing skills? Like ring generalship, defense, movement? He’s good but he’s definitely not the epitome of boxing skills. He’s a crude search and destroy. We’ll see if he racks up some victories against better talent on the next run…Stevenson didn’t want to fight this guy because of the amount of money HBO was willing to pay him to do it vs options on the other side of the table. Sergey doesn’t care, he’s just for ‘sport’ (great attitude for fans, not self preservation). But a fighter’s common sense says get more buck for the bang. But hopefully They will meet if they keep winning. Another reason to end the cold war.

  • I’m with Pedro. Sergey stops him cold. I know you guys don’t think much of his boxing skills, but this guy is knocking people loopy with JABS! The only way to beat him is to take him deep, but whoever pulls that off has to have a James Toney type chin. There is a reason Stevenson didn’t seem thrilled with the prospect of matching up. Sergey 3rd round brutal KO Adonis…..

  • Ok, bet. What is it that Sergey does that makes you think he’ll do good against a guy who’s fast, can move and has similar power? It’s like matching a high end Benz against a Ferrari, and putting money on the Benz because it’s been marketed for your taste.

  • Pedro Fernandez

    JW, oh how wrong you are sir. Watch! Bet a soda if they fight, I’ll take Sergey, you Adonis.

  • the way agnew was able to play defense and counter him, hopkins would have carved him up. agnew just didn’t have enough ‘it factor’ to really pull it off. but a boxer on the level of hopkins would have had not too tough a time in there. and the show stevenson put on against cloud, with that movement and timing and power could beat him as well. he needs a little more seasoning against crafty fighters who actually come to fight before i just declare him the best at 175

  • The guy is very reminiscent of Kelly Pavlik. A better fighter but shares many of the flaws Kelly had. This is why he’ll need a true litmus test to prove he’s the goods. Right now I see Stevenson beating him easy if he doesn’t get caught. Punching power alone wont sustain a championship run if you’re in against B and A level opponents. HBO is doing a good job marketing him if anyone thinks Agnew is a good fighter. Just a black guy with tattoos and a good record to present the image of a dangerous opponent. – But lacked movement, skills or athleticism. Good points Sven, Hopkins would be a betting favorite, I’d also think Stevenson would win as well. Beibut matches up better but that’s more of a toss up fight than a premeditated Kovalev victim.

  • Kovalev is good. A solid lightheavy. Still need to see him, against a more polished fighter. However, there really are only 1 or two fighters in the division that I’d slightly favor to beat him. He has done exactly what he was supposed to do against the guys he has faced. Nathan Cleverly, a good fighter who had never tasted the canvas before was annihilated by Kovalev, and that was his most impressive win thus far. The rest of the fighters he beat had suspect chins. Definitely impressed, not sure if he is going to get to face the type of competition that will test him when you consider Adonis, B-Hop and Shumenov are with Showtime. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shumenov beat Hopkins. e’s much better than his resume indicates and he comes into the ring in great shape everytime. So yes Kovalev is the goods, doesn’t mean he beats the guys I mentioned, but he’s in the conversation. Has some flaws, but what fighter doesn’t. He’s effective with the tools he has, and will be more dangerous if he can improve defensively. That being said, I say the same thing I do all the time; that when facing a puncher, the way to offset them is to try to get them to fight going backwards. See Margarito vs Mosley…perfect example of how to nullify aggression.

  • As I already stated 2 days ago – not so sure if Mr. Kovalev is the strongest LH out there right now.
    Here are my points of criticism:
    1.) opposition: he fought decent fighters but he still hasn’t had that one outing fight.
    2.) defence: practically non existent. He has little/none head movement and his upper body isnt mobile. His defence is typical of a punsher – not relevant until proved otherwise. And then 99% of the punshers get smoked! Golovkin for example is a rare breed as he has underrated defence and very good movement/balance for a punsher. Kovalev got cut on both sides against a stationary target – what happens if he gets in with a dirty fighter like Hopkins who knows how to take advantage of situations?
    3.) balance: not good at all. In fact I was shocked how bad it was against Agnew as Agnew basically shelled up and didnt move nor hit at all! What happens with Kovalev if he gets into the ring with a well schooled fighter who moves and counterpunches?
    4.) intelligence: His ring generalship hasnt been approved yet. He moves well so far and cuts the ring off well. But he seems to be really uncomfortable moving backwards. Again his bad balance plays a role in that.
    He didnt find the target/concept against Agnew for many rounds although Agnews elbows were high up in space and the liver just begged to get hit. Why so late, Mr. Kovalev?

    Concept of beating Kovalev:
    1.) boxer/mover/counterpuncher: because of his bad balance he will have a really hard time against a mobile counterpuncher who know how to sidestep. Kovalev opens up on almost every powershot and lunges forward (chek the picture!). Imagine if he gets hit with a counter in that situation? Lights Out! Speaking of Mr. Toney – in his heyday hewould’ve annihilated this Russian quite easily!
    2.) pressure fighter with good upper body movement: Kovalev evidently cant fight backwards. Put him with somebody who has a good chin and knows how to apply pressure and the outcome will be a beatdown for Mr. Kovalev.
    3.) dirty tactics: If he gets cut up against a fighter like Agnew – what will happen against an oldschool fighter like Hopkins who knows all the little tricks?

    So basically I see only Kovalevs power and his punch output working in his favor. He is extremely crude and therefore has to prove it yet if he can hang in there if challenged (like Froch, who is similarly crude but knows how to win with his given abilities).

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