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Kovalev headlines NBC card

Sergey Kovalev fights Lionell Thompson in a light

Sergey Kovalev fights Lionell Thompson in a light heavyweight bout. (Credit: Chris Toney)

The title-fight tripleheader at MSG's Theater isn't the only world class boxing card on tap for Saturday night. NBC Sport Network also airs a pair of 10-rounders that will be televised nationally starting at 9 p.m.

The main event pits former world champion Gabriel Campillo (21-4-1, 7 KOs) against Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (19-0-1, 17 KOs) in a light heavyweight showdown. It's a classic matchup of a boxer (Campillo) and a puncher (Kovalev).

"He is the strongest, most talented opponent in my professional career," Kovalev said. "In my opinion he should be the champion after his last fight."

Kovalev is referring to Campillo's controversial split decision loss to IBF light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud last February. Campillo is a former European super middleweight champion and, from 2009-2010, was the WBA light heavyweight champ.

"Gabriel Campillo should legitimately be the light heavyweight world champion, had he not been robbed against Tavoris Cloud," said promoter Kathy Duva, the CEO of Main Events. "When we signed Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, his only request was that we get him into a world title fight as soon as possible. A win over Campillo would put him in line for a title fight in 2013. A win for Campillo will likely get him another title shot."

Kovalev, who now trains in Florida, is a decorated amateur boxer, winning 193 out of 215 bouts.

"Kovalev is a huge puncher who also has the boxing skills that can enable him to beat Campillo," added Duva. "Campillo is clearly one of the best in the world. A fight of this caliber doesn’t usually happen on basic cable. Campillo, who is rated three in the world is, of course, a natural favorite in this fight. But Kovalev has stopped all but two of his opponents. In his last two fights, Kovalev stopped Darnell Boone in two and Lionell Thompson in three rounds -- two guys who have never been knocked out before. Kovalev is one very live underdog. This fight is up for grabs."

The 10-round co-feature is a grudge fight between Elvin Ayala (26-5-1, 12 KOs) and Brooklyn's Curtis "Showtime" Stevens (22-3, 16 KOs). In 2008, Ayala challenged for the IBF middleweight title and lost to then-champion Arthur Abraham. He also has a draw with Sergio Mora.

"As for the co-feature, Curtis Stevens has made it clear that he is in shape and ready to live up to his true potential," said Duva. "Ayala is the hometown favorite. This is another bout where there is the potential for an electrifying match that anybody could win."


(All times ET and subject to change)

Saturday, January 19, 9PM - 11PM, NBC Sports Network, Mohegan Sun Casino, CT

Saturday, Feb 23, 10:30PM - 12:30AM, NBC Sports Network, The Paramount, NY

Tags: NBC , Main Events , Sergey Kovalev , Kathy Duva , Curtis Stevens , Gabriel Campillo

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