While everyone knows WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs), the opponent he is facing on HBO at Madison Square Garden Theater March 3 is more of a mystery to most U.S. fight fans. Igor Mikhalkin (21-1, 9 KOs) has never fought in America or been in a major TV fight. So who is he?
Like Kovalev, Mikhalkin hails from Russia. In fact, Kovalev and Mikhalkin were teammates in their amateur days two decades ago. While Kovalev has been fighting mostly in the U.S., Mikhalkin (who is rated #5 by the WBO) pursued his career in Europe. “The way my career and Sergey’s career were moving, it was inevitable we would have to fight each other. It’s destiny we would see each other in a boxing ring,” he stated.
“I’m not as well known, but I get to fight a very popular opponent, a very dangerous opponent with lots of fans. It would change everything in my life. For me, this is a once in a lifetime thing. Even though I am not well known, I don’t think Sergey will take this as an easy fight. He’s not underestimating who Igor is as a not-so-well-known name.”
For fans who’ve never seen Mikhalkin, he says seeing is believing. “When it comes to my boxing style, it doesn’t matter what I say now. It’s better to see me fight. On March 3rd, people in New York and America will see what I’m made of as a boxer. All you need to know about me is that I’m a good person,” said Mikhalkin.