New York, NY: Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) of Russia delivered another trademark crushing performance with a seventh round stoppage of Igor Mikhalkin (21-2, 9 KOs) of Russia at The Theater at Madison Square Garden to retain his WBO World Light Heavyweight Championship.
Despite their friendship, there was no love lost between Russian countrymen as Kovalev made Mikhalkin feel the heat from the opening bell. Through the first six rounds, Kovalev out landed Mikhalkin 145 to 25 punches, according to CompuBox.
Nevertheless, Mikhalkin is a world champion, and stayed in Kovalev’s face.
A cut opened below Mikhalkin’s right eye, and as Kovalev continued to punish him, referee Steve Willis stepped in to have the ringside physician examine Mikhalkin. He determined Mikhalkin could not continue, delivering a TKO victory to Kovalev at 2:25 of the seventh round.
“It was better work for sure than the last fight,” said Kovalev of his win over Mikhalkin. “This might maybe have looked easy, but it definitely was not. He doesn’t hit the hardest, but I could feel his punches and he has a lot of movement and he is a great boxer.”
Asked about what’s coming next, Kovalev said “I’m always ready for a big money fight … I read on the internet that the Badou Jack fight would be a big fight – if he beats (Adonis) Stevenson.”
As to the potential of a third fight with the now retired Andre Ward, Kovalev said, “I don’t think about this right now. I want to fight the fights that the fans want to see. For you, for myself, because I love boxing.”
In the exciting co-feature, WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs) of Russia battled Sullivan Barrera (21-2, 14 KOs) of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba down to the final round before scoring a TKO victory at 1:41 of the twelfth. Barrera was the mandatory challenger, which now gives Bivol the option to fight anyone in his next fight.