HBO results: Eleider Alvarez knocks out Sergey Kovalev, wins WBO light heavyweight title
Eleider “Storm” Alvarez had been more known for being an avoided mandatory opponent for the past few years, and, when finally given a shot on Saturday night, the Canadian from Colombia knocked out Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev in the seventh round to win the WBO light heavyweight title. The contest was the main event of an HBO telecast from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
After a tactical first round, Alvarez, 24-0 (12), started showing his advantage in hand speed with a rapid jab that would stop Kovalev in his tracks when on the attack. Body shots in the second round gave Kovalev something to think about as well, in the second and third rounds, but soon in the fourth, the “Krusher” would make his appearance in the fight.
Kovalev, 32-3-1 (28), was on a roll offensively from start to finish in the fourth round. He looked like the man who once sat atop the light heavyweight division years ago, with three unified titles. The jab was accurate but Kovalev’s combinations to the body and head were starting to show the concussive power he possessed. Alvarez was never seriously hurt but would shell and up, and, a few times, get stuck on the ropes, letting Kovalev get into a rhythm as the hunter. In the fifth, Kovalev’s onslaught continued but Alvarez would soon become comfortable enough to start countering.
The fight was competitive, and the exchanges made for some dramatic moments that shaped up toward a tremendous affair. That changed quickly in the seventh round, when Alvarez connected on an overhand right that caught Kovalev perfectly on the chin, stumbling him backward on wobbly legs, and onto his backside for a knockdown. Kovalev took a moment to get himself together before getting up but once action resumed, his head was set up on a tee for Alvarez to land another right and a crushing left, crumbling Kovalev to the mat a second time. Kovalev struggled to get up, and nodded with his mouth wide open, when referee David Fields asked if he could continue. It was a courageous moment for Kovalev, who seemingly knew what was coming, and it took one punch for Alvarez to drop him again. Fields then immediately waved it off.
Alvarez, who, for years, waited and took step-aside fees as the No. 1 contender for WBC light heavyweight titleholder Adonis Stevenson, took advantage of his first major title shot, and did so with a splash by crushing the Kovalev into an oblivion unseen before.
In the HBO co-feature, Dmitry Bivol successfully defended his WBA light heavyweight title for the second time, with a wide unanimous decision over Isaac Chilemba.
Bivol,14-0 (11), displayed a dynamic offensive style that featured virtually every punch in the book, coming from varied angles, and always off a busy left jab. Out of the gate, he came at Chilemba aggressively to spark a heated pace. Some of his best highlights of the fight could be found in those first three minutes, as he battered Chilemba around the ring, while maintaining the perfect distance to land a clean punch.
Chilemba, 25-6-2 (10), took the clean punches from Bivol well, all things considered, and his body shots warded off Bivol in the middle rounds. Bivol wasn’t as aggressive but was still outboxing and outlanding Chilemba with ease. The footwork was on point, going in and out of the pocket fluidly, and making himself a hard target for the Malawian to land a clean shot on all night. In the late rounds, Bivol maintained a tempered pace that took advantages of the holes that opened but didn’t manage to break the veteran contender down enough to get him out within the distance.