The crossroads bout between former three-time light heavyweight world titleholder Sergey Kovalev and up-and-comer Bektemir “Bek Bully” Melikuziev has been moved to a new location.
The fight, initially scheduled headline a Jan. 30 card on DAZN at the Luzhniki Arena in Moscow, instead will take place without spectators at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California, because of the worsening Covid-19 situation, a source with direct knowledge of the switch told me on Wednesday.
Kovalev (34-4-1, 29 KOs), 37, a Russia native fighting out of Santa Monica, California, and Melikuziev (6-0, 5 KOs), 24, an Uzbekistan native fighting out of Indio, California, will meet at a contract weight of 178 pounds, much heavier than the 168 Melikuziev fought at in his last bout.
Kovalev will be fighting for the first time he lost his 175-pound world title to Canelo Alvarez by brutal 11th-round knockout on Nov. 2, 2019 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Alvarez had moved up two weight classes to challenge him for his title. Kovalev was scheduled to fight former light heavyweight world title challenger Sullivan Barrera at 180 pounds in the main event of a DAZN card on April 25 at Fantasy Springs, but the show was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Melikuziev, a southpaw, has been moved quickly by Golden Boy Promotions because of his elite amateur career.
He was a silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, claimed a bronze medal at the 2017 World Amateur Championships, won a silver medal at the 2015 World Amateur Championships and won gold medals at the 2015 and 2017 Asian Championships.
He is coming off a third-round knockout of Alan Campa on Oct. 30 and also owns professional victories over Clay Collard and Vaughn Alexander.
Maybe they move it back to Russia now that Kov got popped 😂
Kovalev test positive??? Crap!