Saturday night it’s a big rematch at Light Heavyweight when Eleider Alvarez (24-0; 12 KO) faces Sergey Kovalev (32-3-1; 28 KO). The fight is for Alvarez’s WBO title, and is also for supremacy of the 175 pound division. Ring Magazine has Alvarez at #1 in the division, Kovalev at #5. Top Rank Boxing Alvarez vs. Kovalev 2 takes place this Saturday, February 2 and airs live on ESPN+ with a fight time of Midnight ET, and prelim fights starting at 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.
How do these two stack up?
Alvarez: 34 years old | 6’0” | 75” reach | orthodox stance
Kovalev: 35 years old | 6’0” | 72” reach | orthodox stance
What have these two done recently?
Alvarez: W - Sergey Kovalev (KO) | W - Jean Pascal (MD) | W - Lucian Bute (KO)
Kovalev: L - Eleider Alvarez (KO) | W - Igor Mikhalkin (TKO) | W - Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (TKO)
How did these two get here?
Eleider Alvarez has a very impressive recent run of opposition. Prior to the first Kovalev fight, he was riding wins over Pascal, Bute, and Isaac Chilemba. All impressive, but also just a preview of what was to come when he got his shot at the Krusher last August. Alvarez made the most of that chance, stopping the champion in the 7th round to hand him the most definitive loss of his career. He now makes his first defense of that WBO belt he claimed from Kovalev. At 34 years old, and standing atop the mountain in a recently highly revitalized division, it will be interesting to see how long Alvarez can keep his spot.
If you just look at Kovalev’s last 3 fights you see a 2-1 run, but those don’t come close to telling the story of his current career. For that, you need to look back two more fights to the back-to-back losses to Andre Ward. Prior to the first Ward fight in 2016, Kovalev was undefeated and a strong contender for pound for pound king. He was fearsome - a destroyer. Then he met Ward and lost a decision that most felt he should have won. Then they rematched and Ward stopped him with what many viewed as uncalled low blows. Two losses, both highly questionable, and yet they seemed to just take all the air out of Kovalev. He came back with those two bounce back wins, but then Alvarez wrecked him - the first man to truly, unquestionably prove he was the better man against Kovalev. The stakes are massive for the former champ here - it’s do or die time.
What can fans expect?
An immediate rematch that ended in a clear win is not always so appealing. Why will the outcome of the rematch be any different? Here, that’s especially true. Kovalev has seemed mentally shot since the Ward fights, his skills looked faded last time out, and I have never seen any reason to think he’s the kind of fighter in the kind of camp that carefully learns from his mistakes and comes back stronger. Certainly he’s got the puncher’s chance. He always will. But I think that’s about all he has, and I don’t see a reason to see this going much differently, except to be an even better Alvarez showing.
Prediction: Eleider Alvarez, KO R3
What else is on the card?
Some good stuff, particularly with the latest from red-hot rising star Teofimo Lopez. Check out our full preview here.
Should you watch?
Light Heavyweight is a great division now, with Alvarez, Dmitry Bivol, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, and Marcus Browne representing a new guard in charge. I’ll tune in just to see the continued evolution there. And I’ll tune in early for Lopez for sure. The fight itself might not be much, but you never know.