by: Sean Crose
Major boxing returned to Atlantic City on Saturday night, as Sergey Kovalev, 32-2-1, defended his WBO Light Heavyweight Title against the undefeated 23-0 Eleider Alvarez. First, though WBA Light Heavyweight champ Dimitry Bivol, 13-0, defended his title against veteran contender Isaac Chilemba, 25-2-2. Bivol came out swinging – and landing. Chilemba was too crafty to be blown out right away, but Bivol ended up dominating the round, regardless. Bivol unloaded in the second. Chilemba once again held strong, but Bivol was also proving to be a patient fighter. By the third it was clear Bivol was simply the much stronger man. Chilemba was brave and game, but it wasn’t enough.
The fourth showed more of the same. It was perfectly clear at that point that Bivol was looking like a very formidable fighter indeed. It could be argued that Chilemba had a better go of it in the middle rounds, but it was clear that Bivol was still in charge of the fight overall. As the fight pushed into the later rounds, however, there seemed to be a contentedness in Bivol’s performance. Then again, the veteran Chilemba was able to go the distance with Kovalev, back when Kovalev was feared throughout the division. After a full twelve rounds, it seemed that Bivol didn’t dominate AS MUCH as it looked like he might have. Still, the man earned a well deserved unanimous decision win.
It was time for the main event. The first round was close, but Kovalev controlled the tempo. The second was also close, but Alvarez landed the sharper punches. Kovalev’s body shots seemed to give the Russian an edge, albeit a slight one, in round three. Kovalev had a good fourth, so good that it was a credit to Alvarez that he remained standing. Kovalev went on to take the fifth – barely. It was a close fight, albeit one Kovalev was edging. Things started getting ugly in the sixth, as Kovalev’s power started to really tell the tale, while Alvarez started to show some blood. Alvarez, however, was fighting very well. Again, it was the strength of Kovalev that was telling the tale.
And then, all of the sudden, a HUGE right dropped Kovalev in the seventh. Then Alvarez sent his man to the mat again. And then…Kovalev was knocked out. In explosive fashion, Alvarez became the big man of the light heavyweight division. It was a stunning and explosive end to an exciting, hitting match.
There’s a new big name in the fight game…one that, ironically, has been around for quite some time.