Alvarez maybe not be well known amongst casual boxing fans since his fight will Kovalev will be just the second time he’s fought in the United States, but he is a skillful fighter that has wins over Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal.
He dropped Kovalev three times in a brutal seventh round and won the 175-pound championship by knockout at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on Saturday night.
Alvarez, who is based in Montreal, Canada, improves to 24-0 with 12 knockouts. Badly hurt, Kovalev got up, but went down again when Alvarez exploded with a left-right combination. Where does WBC Light Heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson factor in all of this? Fightful had scored the bout in favor of Bivol as well with a score of 118-110. “I saw a couple rounds in a couple of fights”, he said.
As for his opponent, the 34-year-old Alvarez (23-0) comes in undefeated and with his first chance at a major belt.
The WBO title fight was part of a televised HBO Boxing card, also featuring another light heavy tilt between rising powerhouse Dmitry Bivol and Isaac Chilemba of Malawi.
Kovalev may rush his work at times here as he opts to make a statement in his toughest test since being stopped in the rematch with Ward. Now that matchup has lost its luster.
The end appeared to be near when Kovalev put it all together in the fourth round and landed 25 of 60 power shots, but Alvarez remained poised and refused to wilt under Kovalev’s pressure.
The Kovalev camp said repeatedly they want the fight, whereas Bivol and his team felt he needed a little more experience and exposure. Once again, Kovalev got back up to continue the fight, but he probably would have been better off staying down.
This would have been a much more interesting fight nearly a decade ago when these guys still had treads on their tires, but now it just signifies two fighters racing to the end of their careers.
Kovalev was up 59-55 on two scorecards and 58-56 on the third at the time of the stoppage. The Colombian took them all without wobbling.
Alvarez started to show some true power in the third, forcing Kovalev to feel his full force. Alvarez rocked Kovalev with a huge right hand that sent the champ staggering backwards and down to the mat. Alexander’s inability to step on the gas or change gears if things get rough would have been disastrous for him if these two fought in their primes, but I’m more willing to take Alexander’s consistency over Berto’s desperation come fight night. If he tastes his punch it could be lights out so he has to fight the ideal fight to come home with the belt.
This writer didn’t catch the whole Bivol-Chilemba fight, but that matchmaking was worse, despite being defensible on a competitive level, because there was no way a spoiler like Chilemba was going to build any interest in Bivol’s next fight, especially because Bivol is a conservative technician first who scores knockouts second.
Bivol (14-0, 11 KOs), 27, of Russian Federation, attacked Chilemba from the outset, driving him back with right hands and body shots.
Bivol controlled the early and middle rounds but seemed to tire near the end as Chilemba started to win some rounds. This is my biggest fight, Alvarez said. “He is a strong fighter”.