Following back-to-back defeats at the hand of Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev makes his return to the ring on Saturday night with a bout against Vyacheslav Shabranskyy for the vacant WBO world light heavyweight title.
Set to take place at Madison Square Garden, the main card (which also features Sullivan Barrera vs Felix Valera and Jason Sosa vs Robinson Castellanos) is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on HBO. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch HBO online, on your phone or on another streaming device via one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services. They cost a monthly fee but all come with a free trial, so you can watch tonight’s fights at no cost:
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. It comes with a free 7-day trial, and 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, which range from $35 to $70 per month. You can start a free 7-day trial with any package of channels you want, 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, which costs $20 or $25 per month. 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
Middleweight: Ismael Villarreal vs Race Sawyer
Welterweight: Enriko Gogokhia vs TBA
Middleweight: Meiirim Nursultanov vs Eric Moon
Middleweight: LeShawn Rodriguez vs Alex Sandro Duarte
Light Middleweight: Frank Galarza vs Jaime Herrera
Light Middleweight: Bakhram Murtazaliev vs Carlos Galvan
Light Heavyweight: Sullivan Barrera vs Felix Valera
Super Featherweight: Jason Sosa vs Robinson Castellanos
Light Heavyweight: Sergey Kovalev vs Vyacheslav Shabranskyy
After losing his WBO, WBA and IBF world titles to Ward, Kovalev gets an opportunity to regain the WBO belt after Ward retired in September.
But first, he’ll have to get past Shabranskyy. The 30-year-old Ukranian boasts a record of 19-1 with 16 knockouts, but he has yet to fight someone of Kovalev’s quality. Nevertheless, despite being a significant underdog, Shabranskyy has confidence after training with a couple of world champions.
“Dmitry Bivol and David Benavidez have helped me a lot with sparring,” he said. “They come to the gym and they give me real work. We just train real hard and help each other. Its great being able to spar and train with these champions. I’m very hungry and prepared to win.”
Kovalev, meanwhile, has changed trainers in hopes of finding the form that allowed him to go undefeated in the first 31 professional fights of his career before losing twice to Ward. And despite those defeats, there’s still plenty on the line for the 34-year-old. If he looks good against Shabranskyy on Saturday night, there will be opportunities for more big fights with lots of intriguing names in the division–namely Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev, who have captured the WBA and IBF titles, respectively, since Ward’s retirement.
“We must do these matches in the future. The pressure to do these matches will be high and I am waiting for those days [when I fight them],” Kovalev said. “Whoever owns the belt or whoever wants to do a unification match – I am ready to fight.”
As long as Kovalev doesn’t look past Shabranskyy, the light heavyweight division is going to have a lot of promise moving forward.