- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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LAS VEGAS -- Light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev and Main Events promoter Kathy Duva came to town for Saturday night’s Timothy Bradley Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez fight, but even more important were the meetings with HBO officials as they nail down Kovalev's first title defense and the game plan beyond.
Duva said a deal is close to being finalized for Russia’s Kovalev to face Ismayl Sillakh of Ukraine on Nov. 30 at Colisee Pepsi in Quebec City. The fight is slated to be the co-feature on the card headlined by light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson of Quebec against mandatory challenger Tony Bellew of England.
“We’re down to the little thing, but nothing that is going to keep the fight from happening,” Duva said of her negotiations with Sillakh representative John Wirt.
Kovalev (22-0-1, 20 KOs) won a title in August when he blitzed Nathan Cleverly for a fourth-round knockout in Cleverly’s home country of Wales.
Sillakh (21-1, 17 KOs) was a red-hot contender before running into Denis Grachev in April 2012 and getting knocked out in the eighth round of a major upset. Sillakh has won four fights in a row since, albeit against weak opposition.
Should Stevenson and Kovalev both win, they could meet in their next fight. Stevenson and his promoter, Yvon Michel, also came to town for Bradley-Marquez to talk to HBO executives about a plan that eventually would lead to a Stevenson-Kovalev showdown, a match of two of the most exciting punchers in boxing.