New York: Last time in early August Eleider Alvarez was that relatively unknown in boxing. The Colombian native who resides in Montreal got in the ring at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino in Atlantic City and things quickly changed. An upset in boxing will change things fast and Alvarez knows that after his stunning knockout win over then champion Sergey Kovalev for the WBO light heavyweight title.
Alvarez was the last to speak early Saturday evening at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden when it was officially announced he would make his first title defense in a rematch with Kovalev
An unusual position to speak first but in boxing the challenger, this time Kovalev, is first to speak and promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events where Kovalev is contracted seemed a bit uncomfortable in a situation he rarely has been.
Top Rank and ESPN will promote the fight set for Saturday February 2 at the Ford Center in Frisco Texas the practice home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Top Rank and ESPN took on the fight with HBO no longer a televised home for boxing. HBO televised the first fight and Main Events needed a network to step in. Bob Arum, the Hall of Fame promoter of Top Rank was more than happy to take it on.
For Kovalev, this is an opportunity for redemption. Duva hinted there could be a trilogy with the two but for now it’s getting the WBO title back on Kovalev and a chance to possibly meet WBA champion Dmitry Bivol who defended his title successfully two weeks ago at the same Hard Rock Casino.
“I feel happy because I worked for it a lot of years the sacrifice,” Alvarez said through a translator.
“The first time I got a professional fight it was a dream to be a champion.”
Alvarez is dealing with a different environment because the media that had him as a major underdog are now believers. It became more evident that night against Kovalev as to what was to come. He was trailing on all three judges scorecards and knocked down Kovalev three times in the seventh round.
Kovalev had his excuses. He said that it was over training though boxing experts suspect that his two back-to-back losses with Andre Ward, now retired, took a toll.
“The fact that Kovalev said it was a mistake and that I was lucky is motivation for me,” Alvarez said. “He is a sore loser and I will make sure there is a second accident. I expect the best from him the next fight because he won’t underestimate me.”
“I will look to take back my title and put on a great show for the fans,” Kovalev said. “Together with my new trainer, Buddy McGirt, I will be ready for Alvarez.” And this will be one of the many and interesting fights on the agenda in the new year…
LOMA UNIFIES LIGHTWEIGHT TITLES: It took 12-rounds at the Garden Hulu Theater Saturday night for Vasiliy Lomachenko to get the unanimous decision over Jose Pedraza and unify a part of the lightweight titles.
Pedraza, 25-2-12 KO’s of Cidra Puerto Rico, stayed with Lomachenko the WBO. WBA champion who is in that top five pound-for-pound discussion and headed to another possible unification bout with Mikey Garcia.
Pedraza, went down twice in the 11th round with lefts. Lomachenko, 12-1, 10 KO’s, who had a huge contingent of Ukrainian fans in the sold out theater, continued with the left that saw Pedraza survive the round.
And to the credit of Pedraza, he was able to hang in there in the 12th and final round.
“I am happy with my performance tonight,” he said. “ I went 12 rounds with the best fighter in the world. I knew what we were going up against. I thought it was a close fight until the knockdowns. At the end of the day, I am proud of what I did.”
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