Sergey Kovalev has now had a little more than a week to digest the tough loss that he suffered at the hands of Eleider Alvarez. Kovalev suffered a technical knockout after he was knocked down three times in the seventh round. Each time that Kovalev hit the canvas was more devastating than the previous knockdown which led to referee David Fields ultimately stopping the bout. The loss was Kovalev’s third of his career, and unlike his two losses to Andre Ward, this defeat has people wondering if he is done as far as being a top fighter.
In Kovalev’s loss to Alvarez, he was winning on all three scorecards, and even though that he was dominating, he was never able to put his opponent away. Kovalev was unable to muster that punching power which has resulted in him recording 28 knockouts as a professional, and by the time that he lost, he appeared to be fatigued. And that fatigue of Kovalev led to Alvarez seeing his opening to put him away.
This wasn’t the first time where Kovalev appeared to tire after being unable to put an opponent away as it brought back memories of the second fight with Ward where the Russian fighter lost via TKO in the eighth round. And now in Kovalev’s last five fights he has tasted defeat three times, while he is no longer the top guy in the light heavyweight division. Kovalev had never lost before he fought Ward, and in each of those bouts he was outboxed. But when Ward abruptly decided to retire last year, Kovalev appeared to take over the light heavyweight division which included him recapturing the WBO Title as that was one of the titles that he lost to Ward.
And following Kovalev’s losses to Ward, he was able to get back on track with a pair of easy victories over Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and Igor Mikhalkin as both of these bouts were glorified sparring sessions with “The Krusher” easily securing wins. But on August 4th, Kovalev got more than he expected from a game Alvarez.
Alvarez’s punching power ruined Kovalev’s party in Atlantic City where the Russian was looking to put on a show in front of a crowd that was mainly comprised of his countrymen. And as boxing is looking to once again become mainstream in Atlantic City, what a better way that seeing an upset like the one that we recently witnessed.
So now Kovalev is once again set to go back to drawing board, but figuring out a winning formula this time around won’t be that easy. The consensus before was that Kovalev wasn’t on the same page with his former trainer John David Jackson. Kovalev and Jackson had success together, but both sides were clashing, and after splitting up following the second loss to Ward, Jackson even used words such as “arrogant” and “racist” in regards to the pugilist. Kovalev would begin working with Abror Tursunpulatov last fall, and all systems were go until this past Saturday.
There was air of invincibility that surrounded Kovalev until he fell to Ward, and as he was attempting to rebuild it, Alvarez may have destroyed it forever. A controversial unanimous decision to Ward in November 2016 has left Kovalev searching for respect that he may never get. Following Kovalev’s first loss to Ward, he has attempted to change up his style as instead of being methodical and waiting for the right opening, he has instead attempted to be a fighter who seeks the early knockout. Yes, Kovalev has 28 knockouts to his credit, but at this stage of his career, as well as the competition that he is facing, quick knockouts are going to be few and far between. At the age of 35, the opportunity is still there for Kovalev to score some victories, and even still win some gold at the light heavyweight division; but only if he improves his boxing skills, while forgetting about attempting to knock each opponent out.
On the surface it may have appeared that Kovalev was simply upset by Alvarez. But Alvarez’s win cracked the foundation in Kovalev’s dominance and changed the current landscape of the light heavyweight division.