After scoring three knockdowns on the way to Saturday night's seventh-round knockout of previously unbeaten southpaw Cedric Agnew, WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev called RING and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson "a piece of s–t" during his post-fight interview with HBO's Max Kellerman.
But Stevenson was not impressed with the performance of Kovalev, who bled from wounds over both eyes during the fight.
"He fought a guy who wasn't throwing punches, but yet he got cut, and that's because he has no defense. He fought a guy who is a southpaw, like myself, and he got hit a lot," said Stevenson, 36, during a telephone interview with RingTV.com.
"That showed me that he can't fight southpaws, man, so if he fought me, I know that he would get knocked out. I'm the best in my division, and he's just an average fighter. Like Floyd Mayweather says, Kovalev would be easy work. Easy work for me. I'm telling you, this guy would get knocked out."
Kovalev, who turns 31 on April 2, improved to 24-0-1 with 22 knockouts, having last been for November's second-round knockout of Ismayl Sillakh.
The 27-year-old Agnew (26-1, 13 KOs) ended a nearly one-year ring absence after last April's unanimous decision over Yusaf Mack.
"Kovalev can't fight. He can not fight. He couldn't even really take a punch from Agnew. The difference between me and Agnew is that I can box and I can punch," said Stevenson, who dethroned Chad Dawson by first-round stoppage and knocked out ex-beltholder Tavors Cloud in the seventh round.
"Kovalev has not fought a Chad Dawson, who can box, and he's not fought a Tavoris Cloud, who can punch. So Kovalev is terrible. He's lucky that he's never fought a guy who can punch in the ring. Believe me, Bernard Hopkins would beat him, and he would beat him easily. I'm telling you, Sergey Kovalev is just an average fighter."
Showtime already is the home of Golden Boy Promotions' 175-pound counterparts Bernard Hopkins and Beibut Shumenov, who will put their respective IBF and WBA belts on the line against each other on April 19.
In February, Stevenson signed with powerful advisor Al Haymon, most of whose fighters are promoted by Golden Boy and fight on the Showtime network.
Given that HBO has severed ties with Golden Boy, and Hopkins has expressed the desire to face Stevenson, that could well be in the cards should he beat Shumenov.
"I'm going to make more money in my next fight than Kovalev has ever made, and I'm going to make more money in the rest of my fights than he does. This is business," said Stevenson.
"If HBO wants to put up the money, and if his promoter, Kathy Duva, would stop crying and call Al Haymon, and my promoter, Yvon Michel, then we can make that fight happen, and I would fight him. If I fight him, then I'm going to prove to the world and show you the blueprint on how to beat Kovalev."
What about Kovalev's calling Stevenson "a piece of s–t?'
"I don't give a f–k what he says," said Stevenson. "Beside, I saw him once in Las Vegas, and he told me, 'I want to fight you because I need the money.' He was crying, man. He told me that he wanted to fight me and that he wanted to make money. I understand that.
"But I told him that he should keep winning, and talk to his promoter, and the fight is going to happen," said Stevenson. "But I'm focused on my next fight. I've got Fonfara, and I respect him, and I'm training for him like a monster. My job is just to fight. But obviously, after this fight, we'll see what's going to happen. I'll talk to my promoter, and my manager, Al Haymon, and we'll see what's going to happen."