Like most prizefighters, Blake Caparello exudes confidence prior to a fight. And he should.
He is unbeaten, ranked in the WBO’s top 10 and has a significant following in Australia.
But these modest accomplishments may not be enough as Caparello faces his most difficult professional challenge to date when he takes on hard-hitting light heavyweight world title holder Sergey Kovalev on Saturday night in Atlantic City.
While there are boxing insiders and fans who give Caparello little chance to do well, let alone win on Saturday night, it is not stopping him from having the same mentality as he has had in previous fights.
“I always feel like I’m the favorite,” he said.
That is a pretty bold statement coming from a fighter who will be facing one of the most feared punchers in his weight class. Kovalev has been tearing through other light heavyweights and is possibly one fight away from fighting the likes of Bernard Hopkins or Adonis Stevenson for supremacy in the 175-pound division. In fact, on the day before his fight with Caparello, Kovalev’s promoter, Main Events, has even announced a date with signed contracts for the Hopkins fight: Nov. 8.
Caparello is aware Kovalev has won his last eight bouts in a row, all by knockout. But Caparello believes he possesses the one attribute that those eight fighters who faced Kovalev did not have.
“I’m a guy that wants to win.”
Wanting to win for 12 rounds and fighting too defensively over that span is a big difference. Kovalev faced a defensive-minded fighter in Cedric Agnew during his last fight. While Kovalev did stop Agnew in the sixth round, some wonder what the outcome would have been had Agnew thrown more punches and fought more aggressively.
That will not be a problem for Caparello. As a southpaw, he boxes well and throws a number of combinations to keep his opponents honest.
His most notable victories came in his last two fights. Caparello won a 12-round unanimous decision over Allan Green last October. In his last bout, on January 31, Caparello won a one-sided, 10-round unanimous decision over Elvir Muriqi in West Orange, N.J.
To further improve his abilities, Caparello has recently trained here in the United States. It has helped him prepare for the best at 175 pounds.
“I’ve sparred against Sakio Bika and Andrzej Fonfara,” he said. “The sparring has been pretty good. It has helped because it gets you the experience.”
While preparation and gym work has its advantages, Caparello believes fights can be won mentally just as much as physically.
As fight day approaches, social media and articles written on the fight seem to overwhelmingly reflect a one-sided Kovalev win. That could be attributed to the highlight-reel power Kovalev has shown in recent fights, where his opponents have ended up on the canvas or had to be saved from further punishment by a referee.
But Caparello believes he has the formula to defeat the heavy-handed Russian fighter. He believes he can do what no one else has been able to do.
While it may not sell well with boxing fans, as long as he and his team are committed to it, that is all that matters.
“I’m feeling very confident and very excited. It’s an awesome opportunity for myself and I’m going to go in there and follow my game plan,” said Caparello. “Everyone’s got their [opinion]. It doesn’t really bother me. I’m just motivated to fight, regardless who it is.”
“I’m going to get the job done.”
Kovalev-Caparello will be televised live on HBO, with the broadcast beginning at 9:45 PM E.T./ 6:45 PM P.T.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since October of 2013. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing