LAS VEGAS: Knockout king Sergey Kovalev may be a heavy favorite against Nadjib Mohammedi, but he won’t be taking the challenger for granted in their light heavyweight fight on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the Mandalay Bay casino.
Kovalev, who has been a wrecking machine in his last dozen fights by knocking out 10 of those opponents, sees this fight as the next step in his goal of holding all four light heavyweight belts.
“My desire is to get all four titles,” the undefeated Kovalev said.
Kovalev hopes to eventually land a unification fight with Canadian Adonis Stevenson, who has the one belt (WBC) that the Russian doesn’t.
Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs) will put his WBO, WBA and IBF titles on the line against Frenchman Mohammedi who enters his third fight with new trainer Abel Sanchez.
The 32-year-old Kovalev is originally from Chelyabinsk, Russia but recently moved from Florida to Los Angeles.
He has bulldozed his way through the 175-pound division.
Of his last 11 opponents only Bernard Hopkins made it to the final bell last year. But it was a one-sided decision for Kovalev who knocked Hopkins down twice and took his two titles.
Kovalev followed up in March with an eighth-round knockout of former world champion Jean Pascal in Montreal.
The 30-year-old Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KOs) has won 13 fights in a row and became Kovalev’s mandatory opponent following a seventh-round knockout of Anatoliy Dudchenko in June.
Mohammedi grew up poor in France but managed to turn his life around after getting into boxing.
“My life prepared me to fight because I have had to fight for a living and work hard since I was very young,” he said.
“This is my shot and I am ready.”
Mohammedi is the underdog but he is undaunted by the long odds in front of him.
He has one ace up his sleeve — his corner man Abel Sanchez used to be the trainer for Kovalev.