The much-anticipated rematch between Colombian WBO Light-Heavyweight Champion Eleider “Storm” Alvarez and former unified champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev found a new home on Top Rank on ESPN+ streaming service for this Saturday, Feb. 2 at 9 p.m. PT/12a.m. ET from the Ford Center at The Star, Frisco, Texas.
The title rematch will be the main event for a quadruple-header in Top Rank’s first event of the year which will spread between ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.
In their first fight back in Aug. 2018, Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs) came in as the underdog after Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) scored two consecutive victories by way of TKO following his back-to-back losses to Andre Ward. Though the hard-hitting Russian was up on all three judges scorecards controlling the fight with his jab and thunderous right hand, Alvarez sent Kovalev to the canvas three times in the seventh round to score an upset knockout victory as Referee David Fields waved off the fight.
Kovalev’s corner has seen new faces since parting ways with long-time former trainer John David Jackson after his rematch loss against Ward. Amateur trainer Abror Tursunpulatov was in Kovalev’s corner up until his loss to Alvarez but has now been replaced by trainer Buddy McGirt who aims to help Kovalev regain his title.
Though overlooked by boxing fans for most of his professional career, “Storm” Alvarez was a significant enough threat for former WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Adonis “Super Man” Stevenson pay him step-aside money on two separate occasions. Álvarez first sent down Kovalev with a clean right hand; though Kovalev got up, his gaze appeared lost. Instead of attempting to survive the round by clinching or maintaining his distance, Kovalev stayed in short range allowing Alvarez to continue landing his jab followed by a brutal uppercut. Kovalev tasted the canvas again, this time on his side. Though he beat the count once again, Alvarez continued his assault landing another left-right combination which sent the former champion down for a final time.
Whether the rematch will have the same outcome as the first or Kovalev will pull off his revenge, the first fight was competitive enough for the bout to be even more intriguing than the first. With the power that earned Kovalev his nickname “The Krusher,” he could put an end to the bout at any time. Any time before the sixth round, however, as it’s become obvious Kovalev tends to gas out in the middle rounds.
The longer the fight goes, the more of prone Kovalev becomes to receive punishment, which is why Alvarez’s key to victory is to survive the first half of the fight by outboxing Kovalev and capitalizing once his opponent is slowing down on the frequency of punches.
Ironically, Krusher’s boxing ability is often underrated. His magnificent jab goes unnoticed due to his exceptional power, but it’s because he depends on his power for victories that he tends to go for the kill early and tire himself out for the later rounds. Kovalev’s key to success should be to box smart and utilize the jab to set up his devastating punches.
Most fans and boxing analyst will argue that Kovalev was never the same after his back-to-back losses to Ward, while others assume John David Jackson’s trash talk on Kovalev and spilling his weaknesses to the media gave others the blueprint to defeat the once most feared man in the division.
Prior to his first match against Alvarez, Kovalev expressed interest on becoming an undisputed champion once again before retiring. Even if he were to avenge his loss against Alvarez, however, the light-heavyweight division is stacked with fellow countrymen as well as the newly crowned champion, Oleksandr Gvozdyk from Ukraine.
“I have some goals in boxing,” said Kovalev. “I should get these goals and I will be happy and I can stop the fight, but right now, I have a few [unfinished] business in this business… in boxing.”