Coming off the biggest victory of his career, an eighth round stoppage of former champion Jean Pascal four months ago, WBO, WBA and IBF light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev admitted that staying focused against 50-1 underdog Nadjib Mohammedi was a challenge.
In the end it made no difference, as Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs) stopped Mohammedi (37-4, 23 KOs) in round three Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Kovalev, nicknamed “Krusher,” stalked Mohammedi in the opening stanza. He patiently jabbed to the body and head. Mohammedi used movement but little else. Kovelev slowed him down a solid right to the ribcage.
Round two was all about Kovalev’s powerful right hand. The defending champion had done a good job of setting up the blow with stiff left jabs. Halfway through the round, Kovalev started to unleash his right.
Two crashed off the chin of Mohammedi. The challenger was hurt. Another combination floored Mohammedi for a count of eight.
Kovalev tried to close the show. Mohammedi hung on for dear life. Somehow he stayed upright. Kovalev stung him again at the bell.
Mohammedi ate more punches in round three. He fired back occasionally, but nothing was landing. Kovalev hurt him again with another combination. Seconds later a lead right, followed by sharp left deposited Mohammedi on the canvas.
Referee Kenny Bayless waved off the contest.
The time 2:38 seconds of round three.
“For me it was important fight,” said Kovalev in the ring. “I’m happy I got the victory. I wanted the fight to go longer. I’m ready for any fight and fighter.”