Eleider Álvarez is the New WBO World Light Heavyweight Champion
(Atlantic City, New Jersey) – In a stunning turnaround, Eleider Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs) of Montreal, Canada scored a seventh round knockout victory over Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) of Russia before a sellout crowd of 5,642 fans at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Etess Arena. 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 found his range and started strafing Alvarez with pounding head shots from right and left, with body work mixed in. Most other opponents would have withered under the assault, but Alvarez made it out of the round on his feet.
The pair continued to trade punches for several rounds. Two minutes into the seventh round, Alvarez, not previously known as a knockout puncher, delivered perhaps the single hardest punch of his life, a perfectly placed right to the head which threw Kovalev back onto the canvas. Kovalev beat the count, but as the final seconds ticked down, Alvarez knocked Kovalev down twice more, and referee David Fields ended the fight at 2:45 of the seventh round.
“I can’t describe how I feel,” said an elated Alvarez, thanking God and his entire team including trainer Marc Ramsey and promoter Yvon Michel, along with his family and the people of both Quebec and Colombia.
“I wanted to show him I’m strong, I have a good chin, and I’m ready for big things,” said Alvarez. On the knockout blow, Alvarez said “We practiced that punch during training camp, and that’s how it went … I always practiced that punch in training.”
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, earning him tremendous respect. Now he sits at the top of the division. Asked if he’d like to face the winner of the co-main event, Dmitry Bivol, Alvarez said “I’m ready for the best in the world. I’m ready for the best in the division. I’ve been waiting for five years. I’m ready for anybody.”
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. Thank you everyone, thank you very much to all the fans around the world for your support. I love you, and I’m fine.”