Kovalev vs Alvarez: Fight preview

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Tonight, knockout artist and WBO Light Heavyweight Champion Sergey Kovalev (32-2-1; 28 KOs) faces Eleider Alvarez (23-0; 11 KOs) in what could be the former's toughest assignment to date sans his Andre Ward showdowns.

(Kovalev vs Alvarez image courtesy of TheFightCity)

Kovalev vs Alvarez fight details
Division: Light Heavyweight
Title: WBO
Champion: Kovalev

Broadcast: HBO
Time: 10PM ET 
Venue: Hard Rock Casino, Atlantic City

Dmitry Bivol (c) vs. Isaac Chilemba

WBA Light Heavyweight Title

Promoter: Main Events - Kathy Duva


Undercard note: If you're thinking about skipping the undercard, don't. Dmitry Bivol might be rated a Top 5 or 10 pound for pound fighter by August 2019.

At 35, Sergey Kovalev is the top-ranked light heavyweight in the world but has lost some luster due to his two loses to Andre Ward. The first loss was via a close decision that could have gone either way and the second came compliments of a stoppage in a fight where Ward clearly showed his superiority that evening.

In two battles pitting top 10 pound-for-pound fighters, Kovalev was great but Andre was a little better. But Ward's subsequent retirement has left the division wide open and there's no shortage of big-fight opportunities for “Krusher” Kovalev should he prevail tonight.

Kovalev: 6’2” | 72” reach | orthodox stance
Alvarez:  6'0" | 75" reach | orthodox stance

Sergey Kovalev should put the Ward losses behind him and focus on 1) money and 2) legacy.

With possible future opponents such as Artur Beterbiev, Dmitry Bivol and, yes, Adonis Stevenson, Kovalev still has an opportunity to greatly enhance his net worth and establish himself as one of the all-time greats.

And for Kovalev, it starts tonight... But it won't be easy. Unbeaten in 23 fights, Eleider Alvarez is hungry and solid.

A Canadian-based Colombian, the well-preserved 34-year-old has defeated Jean Pascal, Lucian Bute and Isaac Chilemba, and is legit. In fact, he was the mandatory challenger for Stevenson for over a year but Adonis' team wanted no part of Alvarez and were able to slither out of their obligation.

Alvarez is pure boxer who boasts solid defensive prowess and a good beard. He's also resourceful and enters the ring well-conditioned. And let's not forget, he's undefeated so he'll be supremely confident against the champion tonight.

How solid is Alvarez? Well, he's RING Magazine's No. 5 light heavyweight behind Kovalev, Bivol, Stevenson and Jack and is rated higher than Beterbiev, Sullivan Barrera and Marcus Brown.

Kovalev vs Alvarez prediction
This is not a tune-up for Kovalev, and if he's not in top form we could witness an upset given Alvarez will be at his best. And despite only 11 KOs in 23 fights, Alvarez can bang a bit. Keep in mind, he's faced top opponents who are defensively sound.

Look for Kovalev to use that awesome jab to keep Alvarez at bay, pile up points and set up powershots. And although Alvarez will be the classic boxer and Kovalev the brawler, the latter boasts superior polish and it'll work to his advantage.

WBO Rankings | July 2018


1 Anthony Yarde (WBO Europe) (Int-Cont) UK
2 Marcus Browne USA
3 Mike Lee (NABO) USA
4 Sean Monaghan USA
5 Dominic Boesel GER
6 Damien Hooper (International) AUST
7 Robert Parzeczewski POL
8 Eleider Alvarez COL
9 Badou Jack SWD
10 Joe Smith, Jr. USA

RING Magazine ranks Kovalev No.1 in the division and No. 9 pound for pound.

“Kovalev is a very strong, technical fighter who has sneaky power," stated fighter trainer Abel Sanchez in an interview a few years ago. Incidentally, Sanchez mentored Sergey in 2010.

"He doesn’t have the kind of pound for pound power that Gennady Golovkin possesses, but he has sneaky power and is an excellent craftsman in the ring.”

“Kovalev is an excellent fighter. He is one of the best technicians in the ring. Kovalev is going to force you to make mistakes in the ring, and then he’s going to pound you because he’s going to come after you."

"Anyone who tries to fight Kovalev at a distance in serious trouble.”

If this fight is anywhere near close in punches landed, Sergey's power punching and aggression will find favor with the judges.

Alvarez has an uphill battle but won't be denied entirely tonight. He will have his moments but suffer the first loss of his career via a unanimous decision in a fairly competitive fight.

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