Light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev has been stunned. Undefeated challenger Eleider Alvarez remained undefeated by shocking Kovalev with a seventh-round knockout to earn his first ever world championship.
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The Colombian got his first title fight underway in impressive fashion. With his jab leading the way, Alvarez kept the champion Kovalev off balance, and arguably took two of the first three rounds with his superior technical boxing ability. But as the fight wore on, Kovalev started to take control, starting with a blistering fourth round where he really showcased his power.
Then in the sixth round, Alvarez was cut, though it appeared to be from a clash of heads. Regardless, Kovalev continued to show off his power and remained in control. As things continued into the seventh round, it seemed more of the same was coming, with Alvarez putting his boxing skills on display, but Kovalev landing the harder shots.
That all changed a little past the midway point of the round. Alvarez rocked Kovalev with a huge right hand that sent the champ staggering backwards and down to the mat. Unsurprisingly, Kovalev got back up on his feet, but he was never the same. With blood streaming down his face, Alvarez continued to land power shot after power shot, eventually sending Kovalev to the floor for a second time. Once again, Kovalev got back up to continue the fight, but he probably would have been better off staying down.
The second the fight was allowed to continue, Alvarez rocked Kovalev with a right hand that ended everything once and for all. That Alvarez emerged from the bout with the belt is surprising, but that he did so by knocking out the former champion is still almost hard to believe. For a fighter not known for his power — only three knockouts in the past five years prior to Saturday night’s fight — Alvarez certainly showed plenty of pop in his right hand in the seventh round.
Already 34 years old, Alvarez had a long and and winding road to his first title. He was the mandatory challenger to Adonis Stevenson for over two years, and twice was forced to accept step-aside fees instead of title bouts. Now that he finally has his belt, what’s next for the man they call Alvarez?
According to Kovalev’s promoter, Kathy Duva, the Russian has a rematch clause. Whether he wants it, however, remains to be seen. If he does, that would be one option for Alvarez’s next fight. The more interesting fight though, may be against the man who defended his belt earlier on this card.
Dmitry Bivol, 27-year-old rising Russian star retained his WBA light heavyweight belt on the undercard with a bit of a boring victory over veteran Isaac Chilemba. The athletic and powerful Bivol put all his skills on display in the first three rounds, which he dominated without too much trouble. But he was never able to put Chilemba away, and the rest of the fight was a slog, ending with Bivol earning a unanimous decision.
A unification bout between Alvarez and Bivol makes plenty of sense, and judging by their performances in Atlantic City, could be an exciting clash. Regardless of who he fights next, Alvarez certainly made a name for himself on Saturday night.