Sergey Kovalev evens score vs. Eleider Alvarez, regains WBO light heavyweight title

Combat columnist
Yahoo Sports
Sergey Kovalev (R) landed 213 punches to Eleider Alvarez’s 111 on Saturday in Frisco, Texas. (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)
Sergey Kovalev (R) landed 213 punches to Eleider Alvarez’s 111 on Saturday in Frisco, Texas. (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

There were no excuses from Sergey Kovalev after this fight, because he did everything he needed to do to regain the WBO light heavyweight title from Eleider Alvarez on Saturday in Frisco, Texas.

With his career potentially hanging in the balance, Kovalev fought a smart, professional bout and raced to an easy unanimous decision by scores of 116-112 twice and 120-108 to reclaim the belt Alvarez took from him with a seventh-round knockout in August.

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Under the tutelage of new trainer Buddy McGirt, Kovalev kept a jab in Alvarez’s face and never let him get untracked. Kovalev threw more than twice as many punches (816 to 369) and landed nearly twice as much (213 to 111), according to CompuBox.

Kovalvez hired Buddy McGirt to train him and Teddy Cruz as his strength and conditioning coach after losing to Alvarez, and they made a major difference. Kovalev faded in their first fight, as he did in losses to Andre Ward, but he was the fresher fighter on Saturday.

It was a throwback type of fight for Kovalev.

“We worked a lot on my jab,” Kovalev said. “My amateur style was like that. I would always throw a jab and then a right hand like a power shot.”

McGirt continually encouraged Kovalev to be patient, to go to the body and not go head-hunting.

Alvarez knew he needed a knockout to win, but said he was impressed by the way Kovalev closed the show.

“I don’t see myself as a loser tonight, but I do give him credit, especially in the 12th round,” said Alvarez, who dropped to 24-1. “He went out like he wanted to win the fight.”

He did and as a result, he has a belt. He’s got the opportunity for a unification bout against WBC champ Oleksandr Gvozdyk, WBA champ Dmitry Bivol and IBF champ Artur Beterbiev.

Kovalev, who has a court hearing in March on a felony assault charge that has the potential to end his career, was all smiles afterward.

“I started from zero, after what happened in my last fight,” Kovalev said. “ … I brought back my skills from what they used to be when I was an amateur.”

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