By: Hans Themistode
WBO Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) had a ton of pressure on his shoulders this past weekend. It seems strange to say that about a man who has fought in several big fights and is considered by most to be the best Light Heavyweight fighter. Still, on August 24th, 2019, the pressure was at an all-time high.
Kovalev was fighting in his hometown of Chelyabinsk Russia and defending his title against the then undefeated British contender Anthony Yarde. Homecoming bouts have always induced added pressure on fighters, but this particular one was even more so.
The Fighter nicknamed “Krusher” wasn’t just fighting to keep his title while impressing his hometown fans, but he was also looking to secure a bout with Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez. A loss for Kovalev would have seen him not only lose his title, but also a career high payday against the aforementioned Alvarez.
The tension might have been high but you could not tell by watching Kovalev perform on Saturday night. To sum up Kovalev’s night would be simple. He looked sensational. He did have a bit of a scare in the eighth round where he took several hard shots and was nearly stopped. Other than that however, he looked great in scoring an 11th round knockout victory.
Now that his test against Yarde is behind him, he is seemingly inline for a much more difficult one against Alvarez.
Even with Kovalev possessing the height and reach advantages as well as a major edge in terms of weight as Alvarez will be moving up two divisions to make this contest happen, the favorite going into this contest is unclear.
There is no secret that Alvarez is the biggest star that boxing has to offer. With over 50 wins, world titles in three weight classes and wins over some of the biggest names that the sport has ever seen including Shane Mosley, Gennady Golovkin and Miguel Cotto, it is easy to see why Alvarez is such a fan favorite fighter.
The argument can be made that Alvarez would be the favorite against anyone in his natural weight division, Middleweight. His foray into the Light Heavyweight division however would be another story entirely. Giving up four inches in height as well as two inches in reach won’t be easy to overcome. On fight night, Alvarez could easily be outweighed by roughly 15-20 pounds as well. These disadvantages would lead everyone to believe that his match against Kovalev would see him as an underdog. Think again.
Although Kovalev is a terrific fighter, it seems as though his age, 36, is catching up with him. Knockout losses at the hands of both Andre Ward and Eleider Alvarez have proven that he isn’t quite the same fighter he once was.
Gone are the days of Kovalev simply running through his opponents and scoring quick knockouts. Instead, he seems content in outboxing his opponents. Yet in his previous contest against Anthony Yarde, he proved that he still has plenty of power as he stopped his man in the eleventh round.
Kovalev may not be the same fighter he once was but, make no mistake about it, he will be the most dangerous fighter Alvarez has ever faced.
The current WBO Light Heavyweight champion should certainly be favored going into this contest, but Alvarez has all of the tolls to get the job done.