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Light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev will make his third defense when he faces Blake Caparello on Aug. 2, promoter Main Events announced on Saturday.
The fight will take place at the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey and be televised on HBO's "Boxing After Dark."
Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 KOs), one of boxing's fiercest punchers, would have preferred to be preparing for a fall unification fight with champion Adonis Stevenson, but Stevenson and his team elected to avoid the bout and take a deal at Showtime instead, leaving Kovalev -- who is under contract to HBO -- to settle for the obscure Caparello (19-0-1, 6 KOs).
Main Events is suing Stevenson, promoter Yvon Michel and adviser Al Haymon, among others, claiming they breached a deal that they had agreed to for Stevenson-Kovalev to take place in the fall on HBO.
"I am happy to be back in the ring on Aug. 2nd and thanks to HBO for offering us the date," Kovalev said. "Looking forward to facing an unbeaten fighter. I know he will be coming to fight and to take my title away, but it belongs to me and I won't let that happen. I already started my preparation for this bout and will be ready (and) in good condition when time comes to step into ring."
Said trainer John David Jackson, "It is difficult to find an opponent to step in the ring with Sergey. Hopefully this Australian kid can step up to the plate. We are here to put on a show for the public. We know he is going to be a tough opponent but Sergey is up to the challenge."
Kovalev, 31, a native of Russia living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, went to Wales, the home country of Nathan Cleverly, and destroyed him in four one-sided rounds to claim a 175-pound world title last August. In Kovalev's first defense he scored a blistering second-round knockout of Ismayl Sillakh in November on a Stevenson undercard in Quebec City and then knocked out Cedric Agnew in the seventh round of a one-sided bout in Atlantic City on March 29.
"We would love for Sergey to fight all of the marquee names that have been avoiding him but they're obviously afraid. So kudos to Caparello for stepping up," Main Events chief executive Kathy Duva said. "Sergey really is a fighter first. He just wants to be in the ring all the time, testing himself against the best. We are very grateful for the support we've gotten from HBO for Kovalev and our plan for him is to continue to fight the best opponent who's willing to get in the ring."
Caparello, 27, of Australia, signed earlier this year with promoter Lou DiBella and in his American debut on Jan. 31 he headlined an ESPN2 card against the faded Elvir Muriqi. Caparello, a southpaw, won a lopsided 10-round decision in a slow-paced fight that did little to generate excitement. Still, he was the opponent who HBO insisted on for Kovalev to face.
"I'm ready for this fight. You ain't seen nothing yet. I won't disappoint," said Caparello, who outpointed long-faded former super middleweight and middleweight contender Allan Green in the fight before he defeated Muriqi.
Said DiBella, "Kovalev is one of boxing's hardest punchers, but Blake Caparello is one of the best pure boxers in the 175-pound division. This is a classic matchup between boxer and puncher and Blake has the skills to give Kovalev fits."
The telecast is slated to be a split-site tripleheader with Kovalev-Caparello taking place in Atlantic City while two other bouts will originate at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas: former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios (31-2-1, 23 KOs) of Oxnard, California, in his first fight since a lopsided loss to Manny Pacquiao in November and subsequent suspension for a failed drug test, in a welterweight bout against former interim titlist Diego Chaves (23-1, 19 KOs) of Argentina and junior welterweight titlist Jessie Vargas (24-0, 9 KOs) of Las Vegas, in his first defense, against Russian southpaw Anton Novikov (29-0, 10 KOs).