Sergey Kovalev defeats Eleider Alvarez – RESULTS
By Allan Fox: Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) fought the perfect fight to defeat previously unbeaten WBO light heavyweight champion Eleider Alvarez (24-1, 12 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision on Saturday night on ESPN+ at The Ford Center at The Star, in Frisco, Texas. It was an incredible performance from the former IBF/WBA/WBO 175 lb champion Kovalev to out-box the 34-year-old Alvarez to avenge his defeat by him from last September.
The difference in this fight was Kovalev looked in much better condition throughout than he did last year, and he focused on boxing Alvarez instead of wasting energy slugging with him.
The judges scored it 120-108, 116-112 and 116-112 for Kovalev. Boxing News 24 had Kovalev winning by a 116-112 score. It was a clear win for Kovalev eight rounds to four. The judge that scored the fight 120-108 in Kovalev’s favor, Lisa Giampa, got a little carried away with her scoring. Kovalev won the fight, but he didn’t pitch a shutout. Alvarez won rounds, but mostly in the first half of the fight. Once Kovalev settled into his groove and started using his jab and keeping Alvarez at range, it was easy sailing in the second half of the fight. Kovalev looked like he was tiring in rounds 6, 7 and 8, but he seemed to get his second wind in the championship rounds, and that’s when he pulled away entirely and put the fight out of reach for Alvarez.
It was a big win for Kovalev, who fought smart the entire way, and was never hurt by Eleider, unlike the first time they fought each other last September in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In that fight, Kovalev dominated the first six rounds of the match, but then suddenly got tired in the 7th, and was knocked down three times by Alvarez and stopped. Kovalev gassed badly in that fight the same way he had in his first match against Andre Ward in 2016.
Tonight, Kovalev fought smart, and didn’t waste energy in the clinches. Alvarez looked like he was trying to tire Kovalev out with his inside holding, mauling and with the head-locks he was putting him in. Kovalev’s trainer Buddy McGirt wisely told him between rounds not to waste energy in the clinches by wrestling with Alvarez. Kovalev paid attention to McGirt, and wisely resisted the wrestling. If Kovalev had McGirt working his corner for his two fights with Andre Ward, he might have beaten him. Kovalev certainly would have fought a lot smarter, and wouldn’t have wasted energy with the wrestling that Ward was doing to try and sap his strength in both of the fights.
Alvarez edged the action in round 1 in landing several hard shots. Kovalev was being cautious, and he let Alvarez get the better of him.
In rounds 2 through 5, Kovalev stayed on the outside, controlling the action with his jab and his straight right hands. Kovalev badly outworked Alvarez in those rounds with his jabs and rights. Alvarez tried to come in close to land body shots, but Kovalev’s jab was constantly in his face. When Alvarez would bum rush Kovalev, he’d get hit with his hard right hand that would stop him in his tracks. At the same time, Kovalev would retreat and and keep Alvarez from getting close to him.
Kovalev was skillful in keeping Alvarez from getting close enough to land his power shots to try and hurt him like he did in their first fight. When the action was on the outside, Kovalev was the much superior fighter of the two in boxing beautifully against a fighter that was nowhere the same talent level as him. Had Kovalev fought like this in the first fight, Alvarez would have had no chance of winning. It was a completely different Kovalev tonight with McGirt keeping him on his toes, reminding him not to get caught up, and giving him great advice. The conditioning was also key for Kovalev. He was such good condition for this fight compared to his first fight with Alvarez. That was the difference.
Alvarez fought well in rounds 6 and 7, landing some nice shots against a tiring Kovalev. it looked in those rounds that Alvarez was going to take over the fight and score a stoppage like he had in the first fight. If Kovalev continued to fade in the rounder of the fight like he had in those two rounds, he likely would have been knocked out by Alvarez, because he was clearly starting to gas out.
A rejuvenated looking Kovalev came out strong in the 8th, landing some monstrous punches to win a close round. It was definitely Kovalev’s round, and he seemed to surprise Alvarez with his energy in that round. Alvarez looked like he had expected Kovalev to continue to gas out like he’d been doing in the sixth and seventh.
Kovalev fought incredibly well in rounds 9 and 10, landing nice combinations and appearing to hurt Alvarez. Kovalev unloaded with several big punches at the end of the 9th to put an exclamation point on winning that round. In the 10th, Kovalev caught Alvarez coming in with a hard right hand that had him visibly hurt. Kovalev resisted the urge to go after Alvarez to try and knock him out, although he probably could have if he’d been willing to empty his gas tank completely in pursuit of the KO. The old Kovalev would have risked everything to try and stop Alvarez in the 10th, but the wiser, more experienced Kovalev played it safe and continue to box him at range to win the round.
In the 11th, Alvarez came back and fought well in landing some hard shots. Alvarez’s corner was pushing him hard in between rounds to start attacking Kovalev. They knew that Alvarez was far behind in the fight and needed a knockout by that point for him to win. Kovalev continued to fight hard though, and he didn’t make it easy for Alvarez in that round.
In the 12th round, Kovalev came out fast, landing big shots, and staying on the outside to control the action. Alvarez pressed hard trying to try and land a big home run punch, but it was no use. Kovalev fought smart and kept him from getting close enough to land with full power.
It was a great comeback performance from Kovalev in avenging his loss to Alvarez. It’s unclear whether Kovalev will now fight Eleider in a rubber match or if he’s going to be allowed by the World Boxing Organization to fight one of the other champions at 175 in a unification fight. If it were up to Kovalev, he’ll go for a unification match against the likes of Artur Beterbiev, Dmitry Bivol or Oleksander Gvozdyk. Beterbiev or Gvozdyk would be the ones that Kovalev and his promoters at Top Rank Boxing will likely be looking at for his next fight. Bivol is with Matchroom Boxing USA, and he fights on DAZN, which might make it tricky for the two to face each other in a unification. The fans might even want to see a trilogy fight between Kovalev and Ward. The way Kovalev fought tonight, he’d beat Ward without any problems. Of course, if Ward is roughing Kovalev up or landing low blows, it’s hard to say whether he would against that kind of a style. In a fight that is well officiated, Kovalev would have a good chance of beating Ward.