SAN DIEGO, Calif., February 2, 2019 – Light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev of Russia made his fortune as “The Krusher,” the fearsome knockout artist. On Saturday, Kovalev (33-2-1, 28 KOs) regained the WBO title he lost to Eleider Alvarez of Columbia (24-1, 12 KOs) by boxing smarter in their anticipated rematch in Frisco, Texas. Judges scores were 116-112 on two scorecards, and a complete 120-108 shutout on the third from judge Lisa Giampa.
In many ways, it had to be the most satisfying win of Kovalev’s impressive career. He made it happen without a highlight reel knockout. Instead, Kovalev make it happen by fighting smart, staying patient, and ticking off round after round against Alvarez, who watched the title he had waited to earn so long slipping through his fingers. Who would have ever thought a Kovalev fight recap would be praising him for outboxing his opponent?
Kovalev rolls up round after round with a winning game plan
Kovalev’s new trainer Buddy McGirt reinforced the game plan between rounds, urging Kovalev to forget about looking for the big shot, and focus on working his jab and touching up Alvarez, who at times seemed frozen with indecision. “You can do this all night,” McGirt told Kovalev, and he was right.
In Alvarez’s corner, trainer Marc Ramsey’s advice grew more urgent, finally telling Alvarez by the tenth round he needed a knockout to win. But lightning didn’t strike twice.
Kovalev landed twice the total punches of Alvarez, and double the number of power punches. It was a war of attrition, and Kovalev rendered Alvarez without any options.
Alvarez said he had no excuses for the loss. “I knew if it went the distance he would be the favorite. I tried to press the fight … I thought I fought a good fight.” Although he lost his title, Alvarez added, “I don’t see myself as a loser … He proved that he wanted to win the fight.”
Kovalev credited smart training guided by his team for the victory. “This training camp, I took care of my health. My team, Buddy McGirt and Teddy Cruz, thank you very much for this.”
Kovalev said the win was reminiscent of his amateur days. “We worked a lot for the jab, because when I turned to pro, my amateur style looked like that, always by jab and right hand power shot … This is like my skills when I was an amateur.”
The win puts the veteran Russian right back in the mix in the competitive light heavyweight division. Three of four title holders are Russians; the fourth is the Ukrainian Alex Gvozdyk. Who would Kovalev prefer? He doesn’t care, as long as his opponent brings his title belt to the table.
“For me, who’s ready for unification fight? I’m here to make history for myself, and my boxing fans. I want to fight with a champion in my division, any fighter who’s ready,” said Kovalev, mentioning both WBA champion Dmitry Bivol and IBF champion Artur Beterviev.
Teofimo Lopez delivers another beatdown, dispatching Diego Magdaleno
Teofimo Lopez of Brooklyn continued storming his way through the lightweight division, sending veteran Diego Magdaleno to the canvas courtesy of two left hooks so hard he was out cold before hitting the canvas. It was the first time Lopez had gone to the seventh round in his short professional career. Time of the knockout was 1:08 of the round.
Lopez had Magdaleno hurt by the end of the first round, and continued to deliver punishment through the remaining rounds. Magdaleno is a never say die veteran warrior who commits to going out on his shield, but after three or four rounds, Magadeleno’s corner should have stopped the fight. They didn’t, and Magdaleno ended up taking more blows than necessary.
Lopez celebrated with his customary backflip, but he piled on after his victory rather than showing concern for Magdaleno’s condition. Magdaleno’s brother, boxer Jessie Magdaleno, had to be held back from enterting the ring and having word (or more) with Lopez. This polarizing personality is what fascinates so many fans about him, and he knows it.
“Look man, Teofimo Lopez, whether you hate him or like him, you’re still going to watch,” said the brash 21 year old after the fight. “We’re going to do what we do. Listen, it’s nothing personal, it’s business> it’s the entertainment business.”
Lopez said about the fight itself, “Today I learned something new. Today we learned there are going to be tough fighters, but we need to bounce and pick our shot. Every time I picked my shots, I landed. He wanted to go toe to toe, but we had to be smart. I felt like a champ, and we are.”
Lopez says 2019 is the year he wants to fight for a title. “We’re ready right now. There are things we have to work in the gym, there’s always room for perfection.” Richard Commey will get his chance to fight Vasiliy Lomachenko, but who isn’t thinking about a Lopez and Loma matchup somewhere down the road? In the meantime, how about Jose Pedraza as a tune-up?
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News.
Copyright © 2019 by Falcon Valley Group