FRISCO, Texas – Six months after Sergey Kovalev lost his world light heavyweight title to an unexpected knockout of Eleider "Storm" Alvarez, he recovered it clearly by unanimous decision in the Top Rank Boxing main event on the ESPN + card Saturday night.
Kovalev, who qualified the first loss of "an accident" and said he ran out of energy when they entered the second half of the fight because he had trained excessively, this time he had no problems of this type before 4,877 at the Ford Center at the Star. The training facility of the Dallas Cowboys.
Sergey Kovalev is back in the light heavyweight division and once again has big fights to wait. But ESPN's prospect of the year, Teofimo López, also had a spectacular night with another outstanding final.
Teofimo Lopez Jr. entered the seventh round for the first time, but he had no problems handling Diego Magdaleno, who is much more experienced, and prepared for a fight on April 20 on the ESPN PPV card card of Terence Crawford. -Amir Khan.
Many thought that Alvarez would repeat his victory, but Kovalev won by a score of 116-112, 116-112 and a surprising whitening score of 120-108. ESPN also scored the 116-112 fight for Kovalev, who is now a three-time light heavyweight champion.
"I'm delighted, it's sweeter when nobody thinks you can do it," said Main Events general director Kathy Duva, Kovalev's promoter.
On August 4, Alvarez was losing on all three scorecards when he met to score three knockdowns in the seventh round to earn a knockout victory to win the 175-pound Kovalev world title in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Kovalev quickly exercised his option for an immediate rematch and got bogged down in his opinion that he had over-trained and would turn the tables into the sequel.
He ended his three-fight period with coach Abror Tursunpulatov and hired veteran trainer Buddy McGirt, the former two-division world champion and recently-elected International Boxing Hall of Famer, along with force coach Teddy Cruz. The two were brought in to help revive the late Arturo Gatti's career and were hired to do the same with Kovalev.
But in addition to the changes in his camp, Kovalev entered the fight facing serious problems outside the ring. He faces a maximum of four years in prison for a felony assault charge stemming from an arrest on June 9 due to an incident in Big Bear Lake, California, in which he is accused of beating a woman in the face after she rejected his sexual innuendos. . He must return to court next month for a preliminary hearing and has refused to discuss the incident.
But if it was in his mind, he probably did not appear that way in the fight, and when he finished, McGirt was euphoric.
"I'm very happy," said McGirt. "He adjusted well, he adjusted to the game plan more than I anticipated, but I reminded him to keep it basic and basic, I thought he was close, but I felt he won."
Kovalev gave credit to his new training team.
"In this training camp I received help from my team, Buddy and Teddy, thanks to everyone for this," said Kovalev. "They stopped me from excessive training, I saved my energy and I am happy, we worked on the jab, always my jab and my right hand".
Duva, who promoted Gatti throughout his career, said he wanted Kovalev to go with McGirt and Cruz after his decision to defeat Andre Ward in his first fight of November 2016.
"Sergey has known since Ward's first fight that he was doing something wrong [in training]"Duva said." It took her to this camp to do what I wanted her to do, which was to bring Buddy and Teddy. Sergey ate [on Friday] before weighing. He did not dehydrate an ounce. He was in great shape. "
The fight started at a moderate pace, but each man landed a couple of good shots, including Álvarez who got the best shot of the round, a left hook in the head in the final seconds. Kovalev responded with a strong second round when he connected his right hands and the punches to force Alvarez back.
Kovalev appeared in control in the fifth round when he landed with stiff right hands and punches while Álvarez pitched sporadically. He had the feeling of the first fight when Kovalev opened the big advantage before being stopped.
They began to trade more in the sixth round, but Álvarez seemed to improve the action thanks to his right hand. Alvarez (24-1, 12 KOs), 34, a native of Colombia who has spent his entire professional career fighting in Montreal, got a good right hand at the end of the seventh round. Kovalev took it well, unlike the first fight.
Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs), 35 years old and a native of Russia who left Los Angeles, had a great offensive at the end of the ninth round. He landed several blows and at the end of the round, Alvarez's nose dripped blood.
The tenth round was one of Kovalev's best fights. In the last minute of the round, he shook Álvarez with a left-right combination and Álvarez did very soon after. After the tenth round, Alvarez was told in his corner that he needed a knockout to win the fight.
Unlike the energy problems of the first fight, Kovalev still had a rebound in his pace in the final round and looked energetic, while Alvarez looked tired when he received punches, including a hit right hand to the head with the final bell.
"I have no excuses," Alvarez said through an interpreter. "I know that if he went away, he would be the favorite, so I tried to push the fight, I thought I had a good performance, but I did not get the result, I do not see myself as a loser, but I give him credit. I wanted to win the fight. "
Kovalev connected 213 of 816 punches (26 percent) and Alvarez connected with 111 of 369 shots (30 percent), according to CompuBox statistics.
With victory in hand and a belt around his waist, Kovalev, who remains the most important name in the division, will have many options as long as his legal problems do not derail him. Top Rank, which has options in future fights in its partnership with Main Events, promotes world champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk, world champion Artur Beterbiev and super middleweight champion Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramírez, who is moving towards light heavyweight for his next fight.
"There are so many options, we'll sit down with our friends at Top Rank and talk about it, but I do not think they'll have trouble finding an opponent," Duva said.
Kovalev said he would not be demanding.
"It does not matter to me, who's ready for a unification fight, I'm here to make history for myself and my fans," Kovalev said. "I want to fight against the champions in my division, any fighter that is ready."