Former unified light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) plans on taking out all the stops for his rematch against IBF/WBA/WBO 175lb champion Andre “SOG” Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) in the first part of this year. Kovalev, 33, is talking about wanting to get a former three-time Russian Olympic trainer Nikolai Khromolov to help train him for the Ward rematch.
Kovalev’s trainer John David Jackson is expected to return; although it’s possible that he could switch him out. Kovalev isn’t satisfied with his last two performances against Ward and Isaac Chilemba, and he wants to make that he can get back to where he was previously in moving down the likes of Jean Pascal with ease.
Kovalev is going to need to consider a backup plan if he loses to Ward in terms of his career direction. A second loss to Ward will put Kovalev in a situation where he’ll be just a contender in the division like all the rest of the non-champions. That means smaller paydays. It’s not likely Kovalev will be able to get a title shot against WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, because he’s with Al Haymon, and his fighters tend to be televised on Premier Boxing Champions on Showtime and occasionally on the free networks like NBC, Spike and ESPN.
Kovalev could move up to cruiserweight to try and go after the top champions in that division. Currently, the champions are as follows: Tony Bellew, Murat Gassiev, Beibut Shumenov, and Denis Lebedev. Kovalev might have a chance against one or more of those fighters. Gassiev didn’t look so good recently in his win over Lebedev. Shumenov is a vulnerable champion. Bellew is little more than a fighter that ate his way to the cruiserweight division, and then he won a vacant title against a beatable fighter in Ilunga Makabu. Surely, Kovalev could beat at least one of those guys before he ages out.
It might be better for Kovalev to move up in weight to cruiserweight if he loses to Ward again, because it’s a waste of time to fight him a third time if he loses their rematch. Ward is an inside fighter, and Kovalev doesn’t have the game to deal with that kind of style.