Following a win over Vyacheslav Shabranskyy to recapture the WBO World Light Heavyweight title in November, Sergey Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KO’s) makes the first defense of his second reign on Saturday night when he takes on Igor Mikhalkin (21-1, 9 KO’s) inside Madison Square Garden Theater.
The main card (which features Dmitry Bivol vs Sullivan Barrera and Kovalev vs Mikhalkin) is scheduled to start at 10:05 p.m. ET/PT and will be broadcast on HBO. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch the fights for free live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for a free trial of one of the following live-TV streaming services:
Amazon Prime: If you have Amazon Prime or want to start a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, you can watch live HBO and all of HBO’s on-demand content through Amazon Channels. The HBO channel costs $14.99 per month and comes with a free 7-day trial. Once signed up for Amazon Prime and the HBO channel, you can watch on your computer via Amazon’s website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Amazon Video app
DirecTV Now: HBO is a $5 per month add-on that can be added to any of DirecTV Now’s four channel packages. It comes with a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, and you can watch on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app
Sling TV: HBO is a $15 per month add-on that can be added to either of Sling TV’s base packages. It comes with a free 7-day trial, and you can watch on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app
Following back-to-back losses to Andre Ward in November 2016 and June 2017, Kovalev got back on track with an easy second-round TKO of Shabranskyy, an opponent that really wasn’t on the level of “Krusher.” It was supposed to serve as a fight simply to get the 34-year-old back on track, but when Ward retired and vacated his belts, it turned into a WBO title fight and Kovalev began his second reign as champ.
In terms of opposition, this looks to be a similar fight for Kovalev. The 32-year-old Mikhalkin is 21-1 with nine knockouts, and he’s won 10 in a row since a loss to Aleksy Kuziemski in 2010, but he hasn’t fought anyone close to the quality of Kovalev and is being labeled a massive underdog by the oddsmakers.
Still, Kovalev isn’t overlooking the challenger.
“He’s a southpaw. That’s already a little uncomfortable, because for a long time I haven’t fought a southpaw. Also his style can be uncomfortable for me too,” Kovalev said. “Also, he’s Russian. In Russia, mentally we don’t have a step back. If for you [it’s] very hard, you cannot say, ‘No, stop. I don’t want to fight anymore.’ He will be fighting from first bell to last bell, because he’s motivated right now. He’s never fought for a real world title.”
While the main event looks every bit like a colossal mismatch, the co-main event has definite appeal. WBA light heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol, who stands at 12-0 with 10 knockouts, is quickly establishing himself as one of the most promising young boxers in the world, and a matchup against Sullivan Barrera stands as his biggest test to date. Not only is it an important fight for Bivol’s progression, but it should be an entertaining one between two boxers with big-time power.
There are conceivably bigger things on the horizon here, and the hope is that this event ultimately leads to a matchup between Kovalev and Bivol, or a similar light heavyweight fight between champions. Nevertheless, Saturday’s fights should still serve as a satisfactory warmup worth your attention.