The big-punching Russian is set to battle former WBC mandatory Eleider Alvarez on August 4 after the challenger decided to walk away from the waiting list to battle Stevenson.
Alvarez was number one in the ratings from 2015 but decided to accept an offer from Kovalev, who himself has been frustrated in attempts to entice Stevenson to fight.
Speaking at the announcement of his Atlantic City bout, Kovalev explained, “Alvarez has earned his title shot but Chickenson dodged him; just like he dodged me.
“I want to fight the best in my division. Alvarez took the fight with me without hesitation. I respect that and I am excited to face him in my return to Atlantic City.”
Adding to Kovalev’s frustrations, Egis Klimas, Sergey’s manager stated: “Eleider Alvarez is a great competitor. That is probably why Stevenson refused to fight him. Sergey will face anyone, any time, any place. #
“If Adonis is too scared to take the fight, Sergey is happy to step up and fight Alvarez. He earned this opportunity.”
Days later, and with the fight confirmation in the bag, Kovalev cut a much more relaxed figure at a ‘Big Apple’ press conference.
“Thank you very much for everything and I’m happy to be here and back to New York and I’m glad to be here again,” he said.
“First of all, I want to say thank you to Egis, who one day believed in me and gave me opportunity to be a professional fighter and may my dreams happen for me. And, also, thank you to Kathy Duva who supports us and gave opportunity fighting on HBO.
“Thanks also to HBO for great opportunity to be in team of HBO boxing. And personal thank you for help to Peter Nelson and Hard Rock for expressing confidence in me.
“Thanks to Yvon Michel and Eleider Alvarez for approve the fight. I am sure that we will show really great fight August 4th because I have a plan to defend my title. He has a plan to get a title and to be champion.
“It will be very big battle and we must be ready and be the best shape of our boxing career. Because in the future, happening huge fights, unification fights, I hope.
“Thank you to all the writers. To the writers who gave award that Egis best manager in the world, Lomachenko was the best fighter in the world, and his father, Anatoly, won the best trainer in the world.
“Thank you very much for everything and see you and at next press conference before August 4th. God bless you everyone, and thank you.”