DIVISION: Light heavyweight RECORD: 26 wins, 23 knockouts, 1 draw
BIRTHPLACE: Chelyabinsk, Russia NEXT FIGHT: March 14 vs. Jean Pascal
ask veteran boxing promoter Kathy Duva why she signed then-unknown Sergey Kovalev in 2012, and she doesn’t hesitate. “It was his eyes,” Duva says of the fearsome light heavyweight champion. Kovalev’s stare wasn’t menacing; it was primitive, primordial. “He just had the look of a guy who would do anything to win.” Nicknamed “Krusher,” the 31-year-old Russian possesses a weapon so dangerous that he’s knocked out nearly everyone he’s faced, sometimes by merely attacking their body: his straight right hand. Not that he necessarily favors it. “My favorite punch is the one that hurts my opponent,” he says. “Any punch: uppercut, right, left, straight.” In 2011, Kovalev fought Roman Simakov and beat him so badly that Simakov later died. Devastated, Kovalev donated his earnings to the fallen fighter’s family. Last year, Kovalev easily dominated the great Bernard Hopkins in his biggest bout yet. At 175 pounds, this seek-and-destroy puncher is set to defend his belts against all comers.