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Sergey Kovalev vs. Eleider Alvarez official for August 4

Sergey Kovalev Eleider

By Allan Fox: After weeks of speculation, it’s now a done deal what WBO World light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) will be defending on August 4 against #4 WBO Eleider “Storm” Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs) at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

Judging from the lack of talk this morning since the announcement of the fight, it appears that the boxing fans aren’t too thrilled with the news. The basic problem is Kovalev has had two underwhelming fights in a row against Igor Mikhalkin and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy.

Alvarez, 34, is not a big enough step up from those two to get the fans eager to see this match. Instead of fighting Alvarez, Kovalev should have opted to fight one of the following: #1 WBO Marcus Browne, Dmitry Bivol, Artur Beterbiev, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Anthony Yarde, Badou Jack or Adonis Stevenson. One of those guys would have likely agreed to a fight with Kovalev.

Kovalev-Alvarez will be televised on HBO World Championship Boxing on August 4 beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT.

Alvarez is also ranked #1 with the World Boxing Council and #2 WBA. He’s been waiting for many years for a title shot. For some reason, Alvarez has chosen to step aside on a couple of occasions when he had the shot to fight WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson.

Alvarez should have fought for a world title already, because he got a late start to his pro career at 25-years-old in 2009 after competing in the 2008 Olympics. Alvarez lost to Tony Jeffries and was eliminated. Alvarez choosing not to force the issue as Stevenson’s mandatory challenger all these years might have enabled him to hold onto his WBC title a lot longer than he otherwise would have. We’ll never know for sure, because Alvarez passed up his opportunity to fight for a world title.

“Alvarez has earned his title shot but Chickenson [Adonis Stevenson] dodged him; just like he dodged me,” Kovalev said. ”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.”

The fans are asking for Kovalev to fight WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol and IBF belt holder Artur Beterbiev. Alvarez was not the type of fight that Kovalev needs for him to rebuild his shattered reputation from his 2 defeats to Andre Ward.

When you’ve been beaten by like Kovalev was, you’ve got to go the extra mile by taking on the fighters that the boxing public wants to see you fight. That would be Bivol, Beterbiev, Stevenson, Badou Jack, Gvozdyk or Browne. Anthony Yarde would be a respectable option as well for Kovalev, but it doesn’t look like he’s ready to fight for a world title yet.

Kovalev’s career has not been the same since he lost twice in a row to Andre Ward in losses in 2016 and 2017. Kovalev was basically given the World Boxing Organization 175 lb. title when his fight with what was supposed to be a confidence booster/tune-up level opponent Vyacheslav Shabranskyy was made a world title fight with the vacant WBO 175lb belt on the line.

You don’t see that too much in boxing. The WBO should have rejected the idea of Kovalev facing Shabranskyy for the vacant WBO title. The WBO had the unbeaten Marcus Browne in their rankings, and he should have been the one that Kovalev fought for the vacant WBO title rather than Shabranskyy, who had recently been knocked out in the 7th round by Sullivan Barrera nine months earlier in December 2016. Kovalev, 35, stopped Shabranskyy in the 2nd round of a one-sided fight to win the vacant WBO 175 lb. title in November 2017.

Kovalev has defended his WBO belt once, beating fellow Russian Igor Mikhalkin (21-2, 9 KOs) by a 7th round knockout on March 3 at Madison Square Garden in New York. It was a voluntary defense for Kovalev, and the boxing fans were not excited about this mismatch. It was not a thrilling fight on paper, and turned out to be even worse. Kovalev looked like he carried Mikhalkin for 7 rounds before putting him away.

It was bad that Kovalev chose to fight Mikhalkin in the first place instead of a good contender, especially given circumstances in how he won the vacant WBO light heavyweight title against what was supposed to be a tune-up opponent Shabranskyy. Now we’re seeing Kovalev fight another less than thrilling option in Eleider Alvarez. Given all that, it’s no wonder why boxing fans aren’t excited about the Kovalev-Alvarez fight. There are too many mismatches lately from Kovalev, and he’s made an underwhelming opponent selection. Kovalev should have fought Marcus Browne.

Alvarez has been Stevenson’s WBC mandatory challenger for three years now since 2015. Alvarez beat Isaac Chilemba by a close 12 round majority decision in November 2015 to put himself in position to fight Stevenson for his WBC title. Unfortunately for Alvarez, the fight with Stevenson hasn’t materialized. Stevenson has kept busy winning and waiting for his fight with Stevenson, but it hasn’t happened.

The WBC hasn’t pressed the issue, so Stevenson has been able to milk his WBC title for the last five years without any risks. Alvarez finally has a shot to become a world champion against Kovalev on August 4, and he intends on taking advantage of his opportunity.

Alvarez’s best wins in his 9-year pro career have come against these guys:

– Lucian Bute

– Jean Pascal

– Isaac Chilemba

– Nicholson Poulard

– Alexander Johnson

Kovalev’s best victories have come against these fighters:

– Jean Pascal

– Bernard Hopkins

– Nathan Cleverly

– Cornelius White

– Cedric Agnew

– Blake Caparello

– Gabriel Campillo

– Isaac Chilemba

– Vyacheslav Shabranskyy

Kovalev has a couple of decent wins, but nothing spectacular. Hopkins is probably Kovalev’s best opponent he’s faced in his 9-year career, and he was well into his 40s at the time he took the fight with him.

“Eleider Alvarez is a great competitor. That is probably why Stevenson refused to fight him. Sergey will face anyone, any time, any place,” Kovalev’s manager Egis Klimas said. ”If Adonis is too scared to take the fight, Sergey is happy to step up and fight Alvarez. He earned this opportunity.”

It’s pointless for Kovalev and Klimov to be still discussing the 40-year-old Stevenson at this point. It’s no longer worth discussing that fight, because Kovalev has been chasing it for many years now with no luck. He needs to give up already and focus on the fights that are possible like Beterbiev and Bivol. Those guys would likely beat Stevenson right now.

If Kovalev wants to show that he’s not a fading fighter, he needs to take on and beat Beterbiev and Bivol. Those guys are now two of the top dogs in the light heavyweight division. Stevenson might not get past his next opponent Badou Jack on May 19. Stevenson could be about to turn into yesterday’s news if he loses to Badou Jack on the 19th of May.

Alvarez is a smart fighter, and surely will have noticed that Kovalev’s stamina is horrible, and that he cannot take body shots without falling apart completely. It’ll be surprising if Alvarez doesn’t attempt to go after Kovalev’s body during their fight on August 4 to see if he can wear him down too in the same way Ward did in his two fights against him.

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