Sergey Kovalev made a successful return to the boxing ring on Saturday, beating Vyacheslav Shabranskyy with a second-round knockout to win the WBO Light Heavyweight Championship. It was a dominant performance on the HBO card from Kovalev, who was coming off his first two career losses, both to Andre Ward, who is now retired.

Kovalev came out firing, immediately landing big jabs and body shots before setting up the huge right cross that sent Shabranskyy to the mat not once, but twice in the very first round. Shabranskyy landed exactly one effective strike in the round, a big shot to the chest, but Kovalev was dealing by then.

He scored another knockdown early in the second, again after setting up the right cross with the lengthy jab. The referee asked Shabranskyy if he was fine twice, and he said yes. The fight was quickly stopped not too long after that, before another knockdown could happen when Kovalev was swarming his opponent


Now with the comeback win out of the way, Kovalev said he was looking forward to moving back into bigger fights.

“It’s my goal to be the best in the division,” Kovalev said. “Last fight I was stopped, it was a decision by the referee. Here tonight was great boxing for me and I love boxing and I am here to make great fights.

“I’m happy that the belts have different owners and it makes everything interesting and we can make good fights for boxing fans and also boxing history. We have a bunch of belt holders and we can now find out who is the best in the light heavyweight division.”