In August 2018, Eleider Alvarez brutally wiped out Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev in 7 rounds to announce his arrival in the ever competitive Light-Heavyweight division. Fast forward 6 months and the two men once again came face to face with many people expecting the same outcome and this time, maybe even more convincing.
Kovalev now (33-3-1 28KO) had different ideas. Kovalev, 35, has endured a tumultuous couple of years with problems in his personal life, rumours about his disciple outside the ring, or lack of, as well as a couple of confidence sapping defeats. However, he arrived in Texas with a new trainer in the shape of Buddy McGirt and suggested during fight week that he was refreshed, confident and ready to carry out the game-plan put in place by his new trainer.
The fight played out as ‘Krusher’ predicted.
Dominating from the outset, he was allowed to fire off combinations at will as Alvarez covered up and kept himself safe behind a high guard. Kovalev banked the first 4 rounds with relative ease and was displaying some of the impressive punch selection we once saw when he pushed the legendary Andre Ward to a close points decision in their first meeting in 2016.
It seemed like Alvarez (24-1 12KO) was biding his time and waiting for Kovalev to slow down in the second half of the fight. Not many would have argued with these tactics before the fight and despite his distinct lack of attacking output the Canadian based Columbian was not in much danger during the first half but was shipping some hurtful looking body punches.
As the fight progressed the momentum was kept firmly in the Russian’s corner. Short bursts from Alvarez were promptly shutdown and Kovalev cruised to a unanimous victory, with one judge failing to give Alvarez a single round in the fight. It is hard to judge whether the fight was decided through the much improved Sergey Kovalev or the hesitant tactics of Eleider Alvarez.
Kovalev has now proven, beyond doubt, that he is much more than just a destructive puncher. If he can alter his style and box with the confidence and authority he displayed this weekend, then the career of the controversial Russian is far from over.
Alvarez remains young enough to bounce back from the first defeat of his career and it would be of no surprise if we are yet to see the best of him. However, some huge bouts lie ahead in 2019 for Sergey Kovalev. Most notably a unification fight against fellow countryman and the fighter many believe to be one of the brightest talents in the sport, Dmitry Bivol (15-0 11KO).
The undercard featured a boxer that many respected names in the sport are predicting big things for. Teofimo Lopez (12-0 10KO) is just 21 years old and is already making serious noise in the world of boxing. This weekend was built up as a solid test for the Brooklyn lightweight as he faced off against two weight world title challenger, Diego Magdaleno (31-3 13KO). In truth, this was a display of expert matchmaking and it was clear from the opening round that Lopez had no regard for the power coming back from Magdaleno.
Firing off impressive combinations from the opening minute, Lopez looked impressive and was landing some hurtful shots on the tough but clearly over matched Magdaleno.
A crushing left hand sent Magdaleno to the canvas in the sixth round and his bravery was commendable as he climbed back to his feet gamely, despite being cut and dazed. The end of the fight came in the very next round after two vicious left hands once again landed flush and left Magdaleno flat on the canvas and the fight was rightly stopped by referee, Gregorio Alvarez.
There is a serious argument that the fight should have been stopped before the seventh round due to the sheer gulf in class but that said, the world of boxing may just be witnessing something very special in the shape of, Teofimo ‘El Brooklyn’ Lopez.
The card also marked the return of unbeaten WBO Featherweight champion Oscar Valdez who was in action for the first time since breaking his jaw against Scott Quigg in March 2018. In the opposite corner was Italian, Carmine Tommasone who was undefeated in 19 bouts before Saturday night ending 5 of his contests by knockout.
Valdez, 28, started the better and quickly began to dominate proceedings. The first opening came in the 4th round when Tommasone touched the canvas after an innocuous looking body punch. Tommasone, was tough but evidently out of his depth and was once again dropped in the 6th from a sharp jab.
The end of the bout came in the 7th after Valdez landed a classy uppercut and referee Mark Nelson waved the bout off immediately. It was a perfect reintroduction for Valdez who is now unbeaten in 25 bouts. Fights with fellow champions Leo Santa Cruz and Josh Warrington will hopefully come to fruition this year for the Mexican as he searches for legacy defining wins.
Ghanaian lightweight Richard Commey (28-2 25KO) claimed the vacant IBF World Lightweight belt with a destructive performance as he wiped out Isa Chaniev (13-2 6KO) in two rounds. A crunching right hand sent Chaniev to the canvas with thirty seconds remaining of the opening round and the Russian, to his credit, did extremely well to get back to his feet, albeit, on very unsteady legs.
Chaniev survived the first round but was sent to the canvas, again, within the first ten seconds of the second round. Surviving on bravery alone, the Russian wilted under intense pressure from Commey and the fight was stopped after a flurry of punches beat the guard of Chaniev, once again.
Commey now faces the wait to see if he will be matched against the best pound for pound boxer on the planet Vasyl Lomachenko.
Photos - Top Rank