Redemption hasn’t always panned out in favor of former pound-for-pound great, Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev. After suffering his first defeat to future Hall of Famer Andre Ward, Kovalev followed up with an immediate rematch that also ended with the Krusher getting crushed.
Fast forward to August of last year, Kovalev (who was again a world champion) took on a hungry and undefeated Eleider Alvarez. While controlling the better part of the bout, Alvarez found his openings in the seventh round and finished off the upset win with three knockdowns, crowning himself the new WBO Light Heavyweight champion.
Kovalev spoke earlier in the week about how he refused to call it quits and would not end his career with a loss. Tonight was all about proving to everyone that the Krusher still has juice in those powerful fists.
The bout, which streamed live on ESPN+, began with both fighters resisting the urge to take any real risk. Kovalev found a home for his stiff jab early on and used it effectively. Alvarez was a tad more conservative early on, perhaps in the hopes that Kovalez would fade late as he’s been known to do so at times.
The early rounds progressed with Kovalev pressing the action and popping shots on Alvarez at the center of the ring. Both fighters made good use of the jab, with Kovalev being the only one to follow up with combos. Kovalev didn’t seem to want to throw any haymakers, but wisely boxed the night away. Alvarez appeared to be in search of a night-ending shot similar to what won him the title in their first encounter.
It wasn’t until the mid-to-late rounds that Alvarez began to show signs of life and started to let his hands go more. Just when Alvarez displayed flashes of power, he seemed to let off the gas and many times, gave away rounds. The conditioning issues that plagued Kovalev in the past, were non-existent in this fight and Kovalev was able to box his way to a unanimous decision to regain his Light Heavyweight title.
“No excuses,” said Alvarez after the defeat. “We knew if it went to decision, he’s still the favorite. He fought a good fight and credit to him. He came out and proved he really wanted the win.”
Kovalev set out to prove to everyone he still belonged in the discussion of top fighters and for the time being, he’s not going anywhere.
“My camp and my trainer Buddy kept me from over training in this camp,” said Kovalev moments after his victory. “I was able to conserve my energy and use my jab well.”
Going back to his roots of boxing and using his fundamentals is what proved to be the winning strategy for the Russian champ.
Kovalev also wasted no time eyeing the landscape of the division and set his targets on Dmitry Bivol for a possible unification bout. While it wasn’t the dramatic show most fans yearned for, Alvarez-Kovalev 2 proved to be another solid outing by Kovalev who now looks to continue his reign in the division.