Kovalev vs Safar Predictions: One more win for the veteran

 | Thursday 16th May 2024, 9:15am

Thursday 16th May 2024, 9:15am

Kovalev

Former light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev returns to the ring this Saturday, May 18 against Robin Safar. This cruiserweight clash takes place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on the undercard of Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk. The show will be broadcast on DAZN, TNT Sports Box Office and Sky Sports Box Office.

Here are my Kovalev vs Safar predictions as one of boxing’s old stagers returns.

Kovalev vs Safar Tips

By any measure, Kovalev is a ring legend. He has held the WBA, IBF, WBO and The Ring titles at light heavyweight. Among his multiple world title reigns, ‘Krusher’ has beaten the likes of Anthony Yarde, Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins among many others. You would think that when the 41-year-old retires, it won’t be long before he is enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

But there have been caveats along the way. In 2021 he tested positive for synthetic testosterone. The use of drugs, however isolated the incident, always cast a shadow over a boxing career. It is not fatal to a boxer’s reputation. After all, main eventer Fury has tested positive in the past.

The other question mark hanging over the Russian is just what he has to offer boxing in 2024. Kovalev hasn’t boxed in two years, since a decision win over Tervell Pulev in May 2022. Before that, his last bout was a 2019 loss to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Very few fighters have improved with inactivity. Can Kovalev make his body do what it used to as he approaches middle age?

Sweden’s Robin Safar stands in the opposite corner. His record is impressive on a surface level. Safar is 16-0 with 12 knockout wins. But his record is lacking a single well-known name. Safar has also never fought in a bout scheduled for longer than eight rounds. To put it mildly, there are question marks here.

Safar is 31, far from the rookie prospect his record makes him out to be. He’s been doing this as a pro for seven years. The Swede just hasn’t been doing it at a particularly high level. You can only beat what’s in front of you, but what has been in front of him hasn’t cut the mustard. 

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Kovalev in a 10 round fight is the biggest possible step-up. He might not be the same man who vanquished legends and collected belts for fun, but they say power is the last thing to go. Kovalev has been a wrecking ball of knockout destruction in the past. 

It has been a while since anyone has truly felt that power. Kovalev’s last knockout victim in a boxing ring was Yarde in the summer of 2019. But no fighter has seemed as perfectly-geneticised for Kovalev to look good against than Safar. 

Little footage exists of the Swede, but his laboured victory over DeShon Webster showed multiple openings Kovalev could exploit. Safar will need to get a lot tighter and more confident in his work if he is going to have a chance here.

I don’t feel he has that chance. Sure, Kovalev could go through what every great fighter eventually contends with. He could grow irreversibly old, the hourglass tumbling over finally at the age of 41. Father Time is the one opponent that comes for every boxer. You either take his killing blow with dignity or without. But either way, it’s coming.

I’d wager that it shan’t arrive on Saturday, though. I feel the old dog has one last trick in him. One that will buckle the knees of Safar. Yes, I’m backing one last KO-valev (sorry) special. The Russian is 11/10 to score the victory by any method. I expect the ‘Krusher’ to claim one more victim in Riyadh.

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