Eleider Alvarez shocks boxing world by knocking out Sergey Kovalev in 7

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 12: Sergey Kovalev and Eleider Alvarez pose at the Press Conference announcing their upcoming Light Heavyweight fight at Hard Rock Cafe New York on May 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bill Tompkins/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 12: Sergey Kovalev and Eleider Alvarez pose at the Press Conference announcing their upcoming Light Heavyweight fight at Hard Rock Cafe New York on May 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bill Tompkins/Getty Images) /

Everyone expected Sergey Kovalev to successfully defend his WBO light heavyweight title against Eleider Alvarez, but Alvarez had different plans.

On Saturday, Aug. 4 on HBO, Sergey Kovalev faced a tough challenger in Eleider Alvarez. Alvarez was undefeated going into his first title shot, but the 35-year-old Kovalev was the overwhelming favorite. Little did anyone know that Alvarez was about to shock the boxing world.

Kovalev looked confident before the fight started. During his announcement, Kovalev flashed a smile and played to the crowd throwing punches. He looked comfortable and relaxed.

In the first round, Kovalev planted himself in the center of the ring. Kovalev rushed Alvarez several times, but Alvarez evaded his attacks. Both men went to the body early. It was a close round, but Kovalev got the edge because of his aggressiveness.

Alvarez worked his jab early in Round 2. It helped set up his right hand, which he landed on several occasions. Alvarez’s hand speed gave Kovalev problems. Kovalev became cautious and didn’t rush in as much as he did in round one. This was Alvarez’s round.

Kovalev picked up the pace in Round 3. He tagged Alvarez with several left and right hooks. Alvarez took them well and countered some of them. It was a competitive round, but Kovalev’s power made an impact.

Kovalev beat Alvarez up in Round 4. All was quiet for the first half of the round, but Kovalev hurt Alvarez with a flurry of punches that didn’t stop. Alvarez took his punches well, but Kovalev increased his work rate and accuracy. Alvarez had no answers for Kovalev.

Alvarez exploded out of his corner in the fifth. He attacked Kovalev’s body and then moved to his head. Kovalev took the round off. He gave up his momentum and let Alvarez back into the fight.

Alvarez jabbed in Round 6 while Kovalev hooked. They went back and forth at a measured pace. With a minute left in the round, Kovalev pushed Alvarez back with a hard-thrown combination. Kovalev won the round down the stretch.

Kovalev worked Alvarez’s body and head early in Round 7. Alvarez fought back, but Kovalev’s power made Alvarez shell up defensively. Just when Kovalev looked like he was pocketing another round, Alvarez dropped Kovalev with a straight right with a minute left. Kovalev’s legs looked shot. He fought back and tried to survive the round, but the damage was done.

Alvarez knocked Kovalev down again with a vicious left hook followed by a right cross. Kovalev fell to the ground helplessly. He rose to his feet again, but Alvarez sent him down for a third time. Referee David Fields stopped the fight. It was all over.

Alvarez wasn’t supposed to win this fight, but he did. He’s not known as a knockout puncher, but he knocked out future Hall-of-Famer Sergey Kovalev. Kovalev thought he improved after his second loss to Andre Ward, but Alvarez walked out with the 12th knockout of his career and the WBO light heavyweight title.

Kovalev was supposed to beat Alvarez and set up a unification bout with WBA champion Dmitry Bivol. Bivol beat Isaac Chilemba on the undercard, but Alvarez spoiled the planned showdown with his surprising knockout of Kovalev.

It’s hard to tell what happens now. Alvarez could fight Bivol in a unification match, or he could fight another titleholder or contender. Alvarez lives in Montreal, Canada which is also the residence of WBC champion Adonis Stevenson.

It also helps that Yvon Michel is the promoter for both Alvarez and Stevenson. He could match his two boxers against each other and pocket without having to split the proceeds with another promoter. He could also build up a fight between Alvarez and Stevenson by having them defend their titles against limited opposition first. The bottom line is that Yvon Michel now controls half of the title picture in the light heavyweight division.

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Anything can happen in a boxing match. Alvarez proved that tonight by upsetting the balance of power in the light heavyweight division. He might have also ended Kovalev’s career in the process.