The long-rumored HBO card at Madison Square Garden taking place in March is very close to have two light heavyweight title matches take place there, according to reports.
ESPN's Dan Rafael reports that there are deals in place for WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev and WBA champion Dmitry Bivol to defend their belts against Igor Mikhalkin and Sullivan Barrera, respectively. Those fights would be the top two fights on the March 3 HBO card at MSG.
Kovalev will be making his first title defense since beating Vyacheslav Shabranskyy on November 25 at Madison Square Garden. It's been planned since Kovalev won the title for him to defend it at Madison Square Garden in March. A possible fight for that main event would have been Kovalev vs. Barrera since both of them are promoted by Main Events.
Barrera reportedly turned down the fight against Kovalev in order to fight Bivol despite the fact that a deal deal to fight Kovalev would have brought Barrera more money than what the fight against Bivol would have given him. Bivol was also recently ordered to fight Barrera by the WBA.
The deals for both fights are nearing completion, but an announcement is expected to be made soon. Mikhalkin had been in talks with Marcus Browne for a world title elimination fight that would give the winner a mandatory shot against IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev. Mikhalkin withdrew his name from the Browne fight once he was offered a fight against Kovalev.
Bivol won his WBA title back in November by knocking out Trent Broadhurst in the first round. Both the WBA and WBO titles were recently vacant when former unified champion Andre Ward retired, leaving his world titles up for grabs.