SATURDAY August 4 sees a welcome dip in temperature. A cold Russian wind will descend upon Atlantic City as we see the return of The Krusher, Sergey Kovalev. The 35-year-old Russian destroyer’s comeback is in full swing as he competes in his third contest since the two defeats to pound-for-pound great Andre Ward.
Kovalev put the comeback wheels in motion in November 2017 with a Krushing two-round blitz of Ukrainian Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, proving without doubt that his punching power, aggression and skill were still a force to be reckoned with. What was much more in question was whether Kovalev still held the desire to compete once a contest had gone past his usual early round destruction. Could he remain disciplined and focused? Had he fixed the stamina issues which had plagued him in both contests with Ward? Kovalev’s next contest was set to answer those lingering questions. Fellow Russian Igor Mikhalkin unfortunately didn’t pose enough of a threat to substantially have our questions answered. Kovalev proceeded to batter his outclassed opponent until he finally wilted after seven rounds. So, while he is 2-0 with two KOs since the Ward saga, we are none the wiser to how much Kovalev really has left. It cannot be disputed, the 35-year-old Kovalev, after two hard fights with Andre Ward is no longer in his prime. Whether he is still the best light-heavyweight in the world however is up for debate.
Kovalev squares off this Saturday against Eleider Alvarez, a Columbian born fighter who is now based out of Canada. He comes into the contest boasting a record of 23-0 and is full of confidence. In his last contest he scored the biggest win of his career defeating the well-known Jean Pascal. While it was his best win on paper, the performance left a lot to be desired, coming away with a majority points decision. Before that fight he demolished the faded Lucien Bute in five rounds. While Alvarez comes into the fight in a good run of form, his last contest was 14 months ago. This is hardly ideal preparation going into a contest with the still very formidable Sergey Kovalev. Alvarez has yet to mix in the truly elite company that Kovalev will greet him with on Saturday, but he had been the WBC mandatory challenger for some time and for one reason or another was paid “step aside” money by WBC kingpin Adonis Stevenson to prolong the possibility of fighting. This is a genuine contender and should hopefully give us the answers to the Kovalev questions.