Eleider Alvarez stops Sergey Kovalev in stunning upset

August 5, 2018

A fight that was largely expected to be a routine victory for Russia's Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs), turned into a shocking upset, as Eleider Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs) of Montreal, Canada, apparently did not get the memo and scored a seventh round knockout victory before a sellout crowd of 5,642 fans at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino's Etess Arena in Atlantic City.

"I can't describe how I feel," said an elated Alvarez.

Alvarez now becomes the WBO and IBA World Light Heavyweight Champion.

Alvarez found success with his jab early in the fight, snapping Kovalev's head back at times. In the fourth round, Kovalev started finding his range and landed powerful shots to his opponent's head.

In the seventh round, a stunning story unfolded, as Alvarez delivered a beautiful right hand to the head, throwing Kovalev back onto the canvas. Kovalev beat the initial count, but Alvarez knocked him down twice more, and referee David Fields ended the fight at 2:45 of the seventh round.

"I wanted to show him I'm strong, I have a good chin, and I'm ready for big things," said Alvarez.  "We practiced that punch during training camp."

Alvarez, a native of Colombia, had waited on a title shot as the WBC mandatory challenger for three years. When offered, he jumped at the chance to face Kovalev. Now he sits at the top of the division.

"I'm ready for the best in the world," said Alvarez.  "I'm ready for the best in the division. I've been waiting for five years. I'm ready for anybody."

For Kovalev, the manner of the outcome -- a mystique-shattering stoppage loss -- was a sight few could have imagined.  Coupled with his recent knockout loss to the retired Andre Ward, it's fair to say that Kovalev is undergoing a crisis of confidence.  Once one of the most feared fighters in the sport, Kovalev is perhaps starting to age before our eyes.

Speaking on Instagram from the back of an ambulance en route to a local hospital, an upbeat Kovalev reassured fans he was all right.

"I am on my way to the hospital to check my head, check my body . . . I feel OK," said Kovalev.  "Thank you everyone, thank you very much to all the fans around the world for your support. I love you, and I'm fine."


Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs) of Russia showed he belongs with the elite of the division, retaining his WBO World Light Heavyweight Championship belt over rugged Isaac Chilemba (25-6-2, 10 KOs) of Malawi.

The judges scored the bout 120-108, 120-108, and 116-112, all for Bivol.

Bivol came out aggressively, backing up Chilemba with snapping jabs and setting up an array of power shots.

Chilemba remained determined, as he adjusted to Bivol's offense, finding ways to score punches on the young Russian and slow him down in the later rounds. But in the end, Bivol's speed, power, and accuracy were too much for Chilemba.

"Chilemba is a good fighter, and he had champion spirit tonight," said Bivol. "He is a strong fighter. I want to fight more good fighters. I don't know who my next opponent will be.

Chilemba disagreed with the scorecard.

"I believe I won every round from the fifth," said Chilemba.  "I pushed Bivol backwards and made him miss. I deserve a rematch."

Prior to Bivol's win, Meiirim "The Sultan" Nursultanov (8-0, 7 KOs) made it a quick night, needing only two rounds to defeat Jonathan Batista (17-15, 10 KOs) of the Dominican Republic.

Batista's corner called an end to the fight after the second round, following a tremendous headshot by Nursultanov at the end of the round. While it did not cause a knockdown, Batista had already taken enough punishment through both rounds for his team to protect their fighter.

In another undercard bout, Karl Dargan (18-1, 9 KOs) of Philadelphia launched his comeback after three years away from the sport with a unanimous decision in six rounds over Jonathan Perez of Colombia (37-23, 29 KOs). All three judges saw the fight as a shutout for Dargan with scores of 60-54.

Dargan took nearly three years off after his first loss in 2015, pursuing his interests in music and reality TV. Now back training under Naazim Richardson, Dargan thrilled his many fans in the Etess Arena.

In a borough battle, Brooklyn native Frank "Notorious" Galarza (20-2-2, 12 KOs) blasted an overwhelmed Alex Duarte of New York City (13-6-1, 10 KOs) in a junior middleweight contest. The local hero dropped Duarte with a left hook to the body, then sealed the deal with another body shot at 1:57 of round two.

In addition, Bakhram Murtazaliev (13-0, 11 KOs) of Grozny, Russia extended his knockout streak to eight, stopping Fernando Carcamo of Mexico (23-9, 18 KOs) in just 41 seconds of round one for a successful defense of his IBA Junior Middleweight World Title. Murtazaliev came forward with bad intentions at the opening bell, intent on getting the stoppage. Carcamo had little to offer in response.

Madiyar Ashkeyev (10-0, 6 KOs) of Kazakhstan wasted no time in his junior middleweight contest, stopping Eduardo Flores of Ecuador (24-30-4, 14 KOs) after referee Maulana Murdaugh waved off the contest at 50 seconds of the fourth round.

 By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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