Sergey Kovalev returns on March 3rd in the main event of HBO's "World Championship Boxing" when he defends his WBO title against Igor Mikhalkin at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KO) previously defeated Vyacheslav Shabranskyy via a second round TKO win. It was a redeeming win that Kovalev needed after suffering an 8th round technical knockout loss to Andre Ward in their June 17th rematch. Mikhalkin (21-1, 9 KO) last defeated Doudou Ngumbu via unanimous decision in a December.
"I really enjoyed fighting at Madison Square Garden in November. It feels like my home,” Kovalev said according to ESPN. “I'm very excited to go back to MSG and to fight on HBO. Everyone should to have a great time watching my fight!"
The more interesting fight will be the co-feature event when rising star Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) defends his WBA title against mandatory challenger Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs). Bivol stems from a decorated amateur background, holding a record of 268-15 and winning the 2012 and 2014 Russian national amateur boxing championships as a light heavyweight. In 2017, Bivol defeated all four of his opponents via TKO or KO.
Andre Ward may have defeated Barrera in 2016, but he has made an impressive progression since then, knocking out previously undefeated Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in the 7th round in December 2016 and outclassing Joe Smith and Felix Valera in 2017.
"On March 3rd, I will become the most deserving light heavyweight champion in boxing", said Barrera.
This should be an exciting, action packed doubleheader but what may be more interesting is the unification bout that may emerge between the winners.