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.
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.