At Madison Square Garden, New York, Sergey Kovalev had zero problems smashing through a vastly outclassed Vyacheslav Shabranskyy inside two rounds to pick up the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight title. Shabranskyy was expectedly tough – while it lasted – but ultimately had nothing to offer Kovalev, who easily penetrated Shabranskyy’s glaring defensive holes with straight power shots. Basically at will.
Shabranskyy was dropped from a right hook to the forehead two minutes into the opener, and again from a cluster of straight shots prior to the bell, ending with another right hand. Shabranskyy managed to beat a third count in the 2nd, from another right, and was soon mercifully saved from the referee as the rubber-legged fighter was pelted further on the ropes.
Kovalev now rises to 31 wins, 2 defeats, 1 draw, 27 knockouts, while Shabranskyy reduces to 19 wins, 2 defeats, 16 knockouts.
So, Kovalev vs Shabranskyy turned out to be an absolute slaughter. And that’s about all there is to really know. But, more importantly, what does it all mean going forward? Can we comfortably say that Kovalev is back on top form, with confidence to spare following a couple of ill-fated run-ins with Andre Ward prior? Well, given the one-way-traffic nature of tonight’s outing, it’s hard to really say for sure.
Instead, let’s just look at the more tangible stuff. Kovalev is back in the mix, just annihilated Shabranskyy – a guy most of us can at least agree was considered to be a tough contender of sorts – and should still be considered today’s consensus Light Heavyweight kingpin. Strong Top 10 players like Dmitry Bivol, Sullivan Barrera, Artur Beterbiev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk now potentially await Kovalev in a follow-up title defense.
Kovalev vs Shabranskyy: Undercard
- Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KO) came out on top in a lively affair with Felix Valera (15-2, 13 KO), winning their Light Heavyweight bout on scores of 99-88, 97-90, 97-89. Both men were down in the opener from left hooks, which got matters off to an explosive start. Barrera managed to seize control in the second half, but really this fight will be remembered for one thing: debatable low blow point deductions. Valera was docked points in the 3rd, 6th and 8th, and Barrera in the 9th.
- Yuriorkis Gamboa (28-2, 17 KO) outpointed Jason Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KO) in a spirited, entertaining scrap of Lightweight contenders. As for the outcome, tallied on scores of 94-94, 95-93, 96-92, it’s certainly up for discussion, especially since Gamboa was down in the 7th and later docked a point for holding.
Give us your take on Kovalev vs Shabranskyy in the comments, plus the rest of the Madison Square Garden support.