By Allan Fox
Negotiations are going well between WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) and unbeaten #1 WBO mandatory challenger Marcus Browne, and the fight could be done anytime. The fight is close to be done for June/July, according to ESPN.
Kovalev vs. Browne fight promises to be one that will end in an early knockout. It’s hard to see this fight going beyond the 6th round. The two fighters hit too hard, and both don’t take shots well.
Browne (21-0, 16 KOs) has already been ordered to start negotiations for a fight against IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs), but he’s decided to go the Kovalev route for world title challenge.
Browne going in the direction of Kovalev rather than taking the title shot against IBF champion Beterbiev seems to indicate the he feels that’s a fight that he can win. Kovalev was hurt or worn down with body shots in both of his losses to Andre Ward. In their second fight, Ward staggered Kovalev with a right hand in the 8th round. Ward is not known for his punching power, so there could be a chin problem for Kovalev that Browne can take advantage of.
Browne is a much better puncher than Ward. If he can land his big shots to the head and body of Kovalev, it’s possible that he’ll knock him out sooner later. What could keep Browne from lasting long enough to hurt Kovalev is his poor defense and shaky punch resistance. Browne does not take a good shot without getting hurt. We saw that in his close 8 round split decision win over Radivoje Kalajdzic in April 2016. Browne was knocked down in the 6th, and he came close to being knocked out.
Kovalev has had two confidence boosters in his last two fights against Igor Mikhalkin and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy. The World Boxing Organizaition let Kovalev fight Shabranskyy for their vacant WBO light heavyweight title last November. Kovalev made easy work of Shabranskyy in stopping him in 2 rounds in what was originally supposed to be a tune-up level fight but later was made a title fight. Kovalev then defended the WBO title against Mikhalkin in his first defense on March 3 in stopping him in the 3rd round.
If the Kovalev-Browne fight does take place, this will be the order the International Boxing Federation picks from to select IBF light heavyweight champion Beterbiev’s next mandatory challenger:
• Juergen Braehmer
• Dominic Boesel
• Frank Buglioni
• Anthony Yarde
Braehmer will be given the option by the IBF to take the fight with Beterbiev. It’s not likely that Braehmer will agree to the fight, so Boesel will be the next one the IBF asks. He’ll likely take it. Beterbiev would have a huge advantage in punching power over Boesel, and it’s difficult to see this fight going the full distance.