Sergey Kovalev believes that Bernard Hopkins will defeat Beibut Shumenov "easily," and picks himself to eventually vanquish Adonis Stevenson to set up a Hopkins-Kovalev unification fight for the RING 175-pound championship.
"But if Stevenson is not ready to fight with me, then I'm ready to fight Hopkins for my title. This will be a great tournament," said Kovalev during a Q&A with RingTV.com on Friday.
A 30-year-old puncher from Chelaybinsk, Russia, Kovalev (23-0-1, 21 knockouts) is heading into the March 29 defense of his WBO belt against Cedric Agnew (26-0, 13 KOs) in Atlantic City.
Meanwhile, Hopkins is slated to defend his IBF belt against WBA counterpart Shumenov on April 19, and Stevenson, his RING and WBC championships against Andrzej Fonfara on May 24.
Below is RingTV.com's complete Q&A with Kovalev.
RingTV.com: What were you screaming at Sillakh as he lay on the canvas in the ring after the fight?
Sergey Kovalev: He was saying before my fight a lot of things. A lot of bad things. After my win, I was really happy, and I had showed to him, myself and to the fans that he was not right about me. He was saying things like, "Who is he?"
He said that I'm a nobody. I'm not a real boxer, and that I'm just an amateur fighter. He was saying that he would win. He was saying, "Who is Sergey Kovalev?"
SK: I can say about Agnew that he will see in the ring what I am. I don't have a prediction, but I am going to box and show people good action and a good fight. Of course, everybody — all of my fans — everybody is waiting for me to knock him out.
They all want the knockout, but I'm not going in just looking for the knockout. I'm going to box him and see what happens. When the fight is over, I'll be able to talk about it.
I'm going to box, and if the knockout happens, I'll be happy. I am also thinking about my own health. My goal is to not take any punches from my opponent. That's my goal.
SK: We have to remember four years ago about this division. In the light heavyweight division, nobody else was here and it was not a great division.
When I came into the light heavyweight division and when I started to fight on television, the light heavyweight division started to become interesting. Right now, you also have Stevenson and Shumenov and Hopkins.
Shumenov was a champion long before me. He got the title before me, like, two years earlier. But he was not interesting and the division was not interesting. When I came in, I picked up the interest in this division.
My fight against Stevenson will be a very, very intesting fight, because he's a puncher and I'm a puncher, and it will be very interesting. Now, I am ready for that fight, but I do not know if Stevenson is ready or not ready.
You have to ask him. Push him to fight, because I'm ready. I'm ready to fight him tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. I'm ready for anybody anywhere and at any time.
SK: My opinion is that Hopkins will win easily, because he's smarter and he's slicker, like a snake. He's very smart, he's dirty, he's a professional boxer and he knows boxing. Shumenov is an easy opponent for him, in my opinion. That's what I see.
SK: Yes, of course. If I fought with Stevenson, and Hopkins fights Shumenov, and the winners fight each other, of course, that is what will happen. But if Stevenson is not ready to fight with me, then I'm ready to fight Hopkins for my title. This will be a great tournament.