Kovalev's career and life at a crossroad

Sergey Kovalev's boxing career is at a crossroads. The one-time unified light heavyweight champion has lost three of his last five fights. He's been knocked out twice. First in his rematch with then pound for pound star Andre Ward in June of 2017. Then Kovalev (32-3, 28 KO) tasted the canvas again last August, when Eleider Alvarez (24-0, 12 KO) stunned Kovalev in the seventh round, ending his run as World Boxing Organization light heavyweight champion. Kovalev exercised his right to an immediate rematch, which takes place Saturday at The Ford Center in Frisco. The main event and co-feature will air on ESPN+, with further undercard fights airing on ESPN.

There are many factors that would lead one to believe that Kovalev is poised for a big comeback this weekend. The 35-year-old Russian national was ahead on all three judges' scorecards when Alvarez stopped him last time out. Going into round seven I had Kovalev up five rounds to one. But it was all erased when Alvarez landed a huge right down the middle, flooring Kovalev. It was by far the biggest punch Kovalev took in his career and he never recovered, failing to make it out of the round. Kovalev also showed confidence in ordering an immediate rematch. Oftentimes a fighter who has been knocked out will take a soft touch fight in their first return to the ring before trying to reclaim their belt. Kovalev wasn't interested in a tune up fight.

But despite several signs pointing to Kovalev bouncing back in a big way on Saturday, a huge distraction looms over Kovalev now and for the foreseeable future: Kovalev's trouble with the law. Less than two months after Kovalev's Saturday date with Alvarez, he'll be in a courtroom facing felony assault charges. Kovalev was arrested in June in Big Bear, CA (home of most of his training camps) for allegedly punching a woman in the face and attacking her dog. The alleged victim has filed an $8 million dollar civil lawsuit on top of the pending criminal action. The case is due in court on March 11.

Kovalev's only response to charges has come via instagram. Last week he ambiguously addressed the charges, saying among other things "Doesn't it seem strange to you that the incident happened in June of last year, and they announced it on the eve of my rematch against Alvarez?"

Over the next few months, Sergey Kovalev's life will change. Maybe he'll reclaim his WBO light heavyweight title belt. Maybe he'll join the ranks of former world class fighters who can no longer compete at the highest level. Maybe he'll be cleared of his alleged assault charges. Maybe he won't. The first two questions will be answered Saturday. As for the rest we will have to wait and see.


Immediately prior to the main event on ESPN+, boxing super prospect Teofimo Lopez will fight Diego Magdaleno in the co-feature bout. Lopez (11-0, 9 KO) is taking a big step up in competition in fighting Magdaleno (31-2, 13 KO) who is 11 years older and has previously challenged for a world title.

Before the action on ESPN+, regular old ESPN will carry the first two fights of the evening, headlined by WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez (24-0, 19 KO) defending his belt against Carmine Tommasone (19-0, 5 KO.) It's the first bout back Valdez, who hasn't fought since breaking his jaw in a gritty victory of Scott Quigg in March of last year. The 28 year old Valdez always puts on a great show and will be ready to do so once again following an 11 month layoff.

This Power Hour will kick your butt

Title Boxing makes it look easy

We got our boxing on. Courtesy photo.

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at

So I am taking a break from running (remember my article from a couple of weeks ago). I'm looking for a new activity to get into. Sometimes, when you are passionate about a sport like running, it becomes part of your identity. I felt like maybe I am a quitter. Maybe I lost my mojo. At first, it was hard to reconcile not wanting to run, but here are my reasons:

  • I'm going to be honest. I need to lose weight (there is a good reason why you have not seen my finish line photo from Iceland).
  • I have noticed that my balance and posture have been off.
  • Like I said, I have been super stressed and haven't been feeling running.
  • I want faster running times.

I've been peeping the Title Boxing Gym that is around the corner from my house. I've always been curious about what went on there. Well, I'm going to find out.

As I opened the door and stepped in, I surveyed the room. Lined up heavy bags were hanging throughout the room. There was a rack of medicine balls along a mirrored wall. In the corner, there was a full sized boxing ring. About 10 MMA bags were tucked behind the ring. It looked serious.

"Hello, how are you?" I turned my attention to a lean man holding his hand out waiting for me to shake it. "I'm Totrek. What is your name?"

"Jovan. So, what's the deal here?"

As Totrek leads me into the gym, he explains Title Boxing.

"We offer hour long boxing, kickboxing, and MMA classes we call the Power Hour. Each class starts with 15 minutes of calisthenics, eight rounds of three minutes of punch/kick combinations, and ends with 15 minutes of core for a cool down with stretching. This is no contact boxing, we just hit heavy bags. There are 55 of them to be exact."

I'm a little intimidated. How many women exactly belong to the gym? What is the age range? Totrek assures me that I would fit in and to just go at my own pace. Also noteworthy is you can burn anywhere from 600-1000 calories in an hour. Totrek is now showing me the schedule of classes. "So when can you come in to try your first shot on us?"

First timers getting instructed.

I chose the 9:30am class on Monday morning. "You're instructor will be Chris. Just make sure you bring $11.90, the day of class for your hand wraps, which are a must, and arrive 15 minutes early to get registered and wrapped. We will loan you boxing gloves. See you then!

Monday rolls around. I make sure I'm there at 9:15am. Kate, who works the front desk greets and rings me up. Kate is a beautiful, blond amazon woman from the Czech Republic who stands about 6"2 without heels. She wears stilettos because everyone else should be taller. She gets me registered and wraps my hands. Afterwards, she introduces me to Chris. I have needed an obnoxious black man in my life to get me motivated. I took one look at him and knew he would do just fine. Chris goes over a brief tutorial on how to breath and the different punches we would be doing. I chose my bag and take my place.

The music starts. It is a blend of modern day rap and from the early 2000's. Think Luda meets Drake. Chris is energetic and unapologetic. Chris leads us through 15 minutes of damn, I lost my fitness. Squats, lunges, jumping jacks, high knees. All with no rest. I think I burned 400 calories within the first 15 minutes.

Feeling like champ with Salutu

He tells us to take position in the front of the room. Our assignment is to jab. jab/cross. hook. down the line of bags. The music starts. It's Tyga. As I punch each bag, i feel like Mila Jovavich on the Fifth Element. Each bag is my opponent. They can get a TASTE....TASTE. I was having so much fun. I thought of all the people who deserved a TASTE.....TASTE.

"Will you stop smiling? You have been cheezin this entire time." says Chris. Here I was wanting to get out all that frustration and it turned out I was so happy to hit something. I thought I would be angrier, but I'm just not an angry person, I guess. That's a relief.

The class ends with 15 mins of core and stretching. Everyone is soaked in sweat. The music ends and so does the class. I can't wait for the next class. This is definitely my new activity.

If you want to try your first shot from Title Boxing Gym, visit Title Boxing Club Westchase or call 713-637-4246.

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