<
>

Kovalev-Caparello in the works

Light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev’s return, which is ticketed for Aug. 2 at the Revel casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as part of an HBO-televised split-site tripleheader, probably will come against Australia’s Blake Caparello.

Russia’s Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 KOs) will be making his third title defense. He had hoped to be prepping for a fall showdown with champion Adonis Stevenson, but when he bailed on the fight and went to Showtime, it left promoter Main Events, Kovalev and HBO, which has Kovalev under contract, to change its plans.

Caparello (19-0-1, 6 KOs), 27, signed earlier this year with promoter Lou DiBella, is the opponent HBO is insisting on, even though he is not somebody Main Events is thrilled with matching Kovalev with.

That’s understandable, and not because Caparello presents any great danger. It’s because, like Kovalev’s March 29 victim, Cedric Agnew, who got knocked out in the seventh round, Caparello is not a crowd pleaser whatsoever.

In Caparello’s American debut on Jan. 31, he headlined an ESPN2 card against the faded Elvir Muriqi and won a lopsided and terribly boring 10-round decision in a sleep-inducing performance. How that qualified Caparello to fight for a world title, on HBO no less, is beyond me but, hey, that’s what the network wants. I’m told one of the reasons is because Caparello fits what seems to be HBO’s continually shrinking budget. Total package for Caparello’s side is likely to be only a little more than $100,000.

The rest of the telecast is supposed to feature welterweight Brandon Rios (31-2-1, 23 KOs) in his first fight since a lopsided loss to Manny Pacquiao in November and subsequent suspension for a failed drug test. He’ll take on former interim titlist Diego Chaves (23-1, 19 KOs) in the main event while junior welterweight titlist Jessie Vargas (24-0, 9 KOs) likely will defend his belt against an opponent to be determined in either Las Vegas or Fresno, California.