Sunday, March 15, 2015

Why Sergey Kovalev's Victory Over Jean Pascal May Be Historically Significant

Yup, there was some great boxing to be had this past Saturday night. After a couple of disappointing preliminary bouts (seriously, can USS Cunningham ever catch a break?) the world was treated to Sergey Kovalev's light heavyweight scrap against Jean Pascal.

Needless to say, HBO viewers watched Kovalev do what Kovalev does best - and that's polish off opponents well before the final bell sounds. Yet there's little doubt that Kovalev knew he was in a fight Saturday night. For Pascal performed magnificently. That's right, I said it - magnificently. Losing to a fighter who may well be an all time division great is the farthest thing in the world from shameful.

The Kovalev-Pascal bout may have been more than just exciting, however. It may actually prove to have been historically significant.

How so?

Well, it may in hindsight signify the end of  boxing championships as fight fans know them. For Adonis Stevenson, not Sergey Kovalev, is - officially, at least - the true light heavyweight champion of the world. Stevenson won his title from Chad Dawson, after all. And Dawson was the man who beat the man who beat the man...

Yet Stevenson seems to have no interest in ever fighting Kovalev. Oh, he says he does, but his actions have perpetually betrayed his words. Suffice to say, after seeing Kovalev defeat such luminaries as Pascal and the great Bernard Hopkins, fans may have finally had enough. And Sergey Kovalev may now be accepted  by the public as the one true light heavyweight champion, whether or not he ever faces Stevenson in the ring.

This is significant stuff. Even Mike Tyson had to get past Michael Spinks (the man who beat the man) before he was truly seen as king of the heavyweights. Spinks wanted that fight, however (he may have regretted his decision later). Had he avoided Tyson, the view of what constituted a champion may have changed a quarter century ago.

The truth is that prominent fighters have always steered clear of big threats. John L Sullivan never battled Peter Jackson. Jack Dempsey never faced Sam Langford. Today, however, the public is more discerning. A champ has to prove he's a champ. In the age of Twitter, a wary champion can no longer just say he'll face anyone while proceeding to avoid risky opposition.

"The times, they are a changin'," as Bob Dylan once sang. In this case, they may well be changing for the better.    

1 comment:

  1. I think this proves lineal championships are more about timing then greatness. For example, Cotto is lineal champion but it's hard to argue that Martinez could beat any top ten middleweight with his legs in such bad shape. Cotto won because he fought Martinez at the right time (and right weight). Same for Adonis, he won the lineal championship from Chad Dawson months after Dawson suffered a KO defeat to relative light punching Andre Ward. It doesn't need to be argued tha Kovalev would've done the same had he been offered the fight with Dawson. Dawson hasn't been the same since the Ward fight. But Stevenson is lineal champ because he fought Dawson at the right TIME. But when Kovalev is dismantling guys like Pascal, Hopkins and Cleverly while Stevenson fights Fonfara and an undersized Sakio Bika who hasn't won a fight in two years, it's clear who THe MAN at 175 is.