By Jeff Zimmerman at ringside
Photo: Sumio Yamada
In their much-anticipated rematch, Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) regained the WBO light heavyweight world championship with a twelve round unanimous decision over Eleider Alvarez (24-1, 12 KOs) on Saturday night at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Scores were 116-112, 116-112, 120-108.
Kovalev went back to basics with his new trainer, the newly elected Hall of Famer Buddy McGirt whose game plan was to jab and then jab some more against Eleider “Storm” Alvarez, who took Kovalev’s belt in a devastating knockout last year. The Krusher put on a boxing clinic to reclaim his title.
Many thought Kovalev was washed up when the relatively unknown Alvarez snatched the belt from him last year in a 7th round knockout in a fight that Kovalev was ahead on the scorecards. Kovalev said leading up to the fight that he made a mistake in the first fight and he dropped off his belt the first go around, but he was going to get it back.
In the first few rounds, Kovalev used the jab effectively and pushed the fight to Alvarez. In the middle rounds, the fight opened up as both Kovalev and Alvarez had some spirited exchanges. In the 7th round, the round Alvarez crushed the “Krusher” in their first fight, look like he may have his shot again as he was loading up for one big shot. But every time Alvarez landed a telling blow, Kovalev went to the basics that McGirt preached in training camp where at times he only let him use his jab for rounds at a time.
“I went back to my amateur style to work on my jab. in my last fights I was losing my style that won all my fights. I was forgetting that style as I took so much time off in between fights.”
The action did pick up in the championship rounds as both guys landed big combos, but when Kovalev snapped back the head of Alvarez in the 10th round with a straight left, Kovalev was back in control. And again, in the 12th round, Kovalev snapped Alvarez head back and ended the fight with an overhand right to punctuate his big night and win back the WBO light heavyweight title he had previously “dropped off.”
McGirt knew the right hand would always be there so that’s why he emphasized the jab and he was going to be happy just getting a decision.
“I’m very happy he stuck to gameplan, better than I expected.”
Kovalev said post-fight, “my goal was to box as he was looking for the big punch, but I kept boxing and the only time I got hurt when I got a thumb in my eye.”
Alvarez was gracious in defeat.
“I had no excuses. I knew he would be favorite if it came to a decision. I don’t see myself as a loser, but he won the fight tonight.”