When Eleider Alvarez stunned Sergey Kovalev last year to win the WBO light heavyweight title, it was one of the upsets of 2018. The immediate rematch saw Kovalev as the underdog, but he was the far superior man in the ring against Alvarez in Saturday’s Top Rank on ESPN main event in Frisco, TX.
Russia’s Kovalev was by far the more aggressive fighter, the more effective puncher, showed a good chin, and turned in an impressive boxing clinic against the Colombian-Canadian, winning a clear-cut unanimous decision to take back his belt. Alvarez was simply unable to solve Kovalev’s combinations, his jab, and movement, and he seemed too preoccupied with going for a knockout, only this time it didn’t come to fruition.
The fight was slow-paced through the early rounds, but it was Kovalev taking the initative on offense and mixed up his shot selection expertly. He also seemed well-conditioned and new trainer Buddy McGirt has clearly been a net-positive for “Krusher.” Alvarez did have his moments but they were too intermittent. He didn’t attack Kovalev’s body with conviction until the later rounds and was frequently open to counters. When Alvarez did connect, he rarely followed up, and Kovalev often walked through Eleider’s heaviest shots.
Alvarez looked to make a surge in round seven when he upped the tempo just a bit, but pretty much did nothing of consequence in round eight. Kovalev pulled away on the scorecards towards the closing stages of the fight, and even though Alvarez connected flush multiple times, the power had long gone and it was Kovalev who had the stronger finish to the 12th and final round. Alvarez looked tired and more defensively vulnerable, and was significantly hurt towards the end. No knockout, but a deserved win for Kovalev, who has a much more important matter at hand in March.
CompuBox credited Kovalev with landing 213 of 816 (26%) total punches, and 153 of 425 (36%) power shots. Alvarez landed 111 of 369 (30%) total punches, and 78 of 166 (47%) of his power shots, but the good power shot connect rate was not remotely active enough for him to win rounds or indeed the fight.
Official result: Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) def. Eleider Alvarez (24-1, 12 KOs) by unanimous decision (116-112, 116-112, 120-108) to win back the WBO light heavyweight title