What better way for "The Krusher" to make a triumphant return than to win a world title inside "The World's Most Famous Arena" on HBO.
Sergey Kovalev won the vacant WBO light heavyweight title with a TKO win over Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in the second round. The fight headlined an HBO Championship Boxing telecast live from Madison Square Garden. It is Kovalev's first win since July 2016.
Below is the recap of the fight from Fightful's live coverage of the fight.
Round 2: Shabranskyy attacks the body, but Kovalev continues to land hard right hand punches to the younger Russian. Kovalev continues to attack and there’s another knockdown. Third time he’s down. The referee has seen enough and calls the fight. Kovalev is the light heavyweight world champion again.
Official result: Sergey Kovalev defeated Vyacheslav Shabranskyy via TKO, round 2, 2:36 to win the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight Title
The fight began with Kovalev landing hard right hands to Shabranskyy and knocked him down twice in the opening round. Kovalev continued the offensive flurry in the second round, knocking Shabranskyy down a third time overall. Kovalev had his opponent on the ropes late in the round until the referee put a stop to the contest.
Kovalev gets a much-needed win after losing twice to Andre Ward on pay-per-view. The first loss was controversial as many had thought Kovalev, not Ward, won the fight in the cards. The rematch had Kovalev lose via a referee stoppage Kovalev thought was too soon.
Ward won the unified WBO, WBA and IBF titles in the first fight against Kovalev, but since Ward retired a couple of months ago and his three titles were then up for grabs. Now that Kovalev is back on top, the new world champion said in a post-fight interview that he wants to explore other big fights within the division, which has seen an explosion of contenders in the aftermath of Ward's retirement.
"It's my goal to be best in the decision, last time I was stopped was a decision by the referee. Here tonight was great boxing for me and I love boxing and I want to make great fights. I'm happy that the belts have different owners and it makes everything interesting and we can make better fights. We have a bunch of belt holes and we can now find out who is the best. I am ready for any champion because this is very good for boxing," Kovalev said through a translator.
Kovalev now joins Dmitry Bivol (WBA), Adonis Stevenson (WBC) and Enrico Koelling (IBF) as boxing's light heavyweight world champions. Kovalev also won the IBA light heavyweight title when he beat Shabranskyy.