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Breakdown: Sergey Kovalev vs. Eleider Alvarez preview and prediction

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This Saturday is the return of one of boxing’s notable names today when Sergey Kovalev (32-2-1; 28 KOs) takes on Eleider Alvarez (23-0; 11 KOs). The fight is for the WBO Light Heavyweight (175 lbs.) title. Ring Magazine ranks Kovalev at #1 in the division, #9 pound for pound, with Alvarez as the #5 Light Heavyweight. The fight takes place this Saturday, August 4 and airs on HBO with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET. Also on the broadcast is WBA Light Heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol vs. Isaac Chilemba.

How do these two stack up?

Kovalev: 35 years old | 6’2” | 72” reach | orthodox stance
Alvarez: 24 years old | 6’0” | 75” reach | orthodox stance

What have these two done recently?

Kovalev: W – Igor Mikhalkin (TKO) | W – Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (TKO) | L – Andre Ward (TKO)
Alvarez: W – Jean Pascal (MD) | W – Lucian Bute (KO) | W – Norbert Dabrowski (KO)

How did these two get here?

Sergey Kovalev is in a very interesting place in his career. Just four fights ago he was arguably the sport’s top pound for pound fighter with a fearsome KO mystique about him. Then he went 0-2 against Andre Ward, though the first loss was a decision many disagreed with, and the second some saw as marred by uncalled Ward low blows. Still, back to back losses. He’s 2-0 since, reclaimed one of his titles, and is the clear #1 Light Heavyweight in the world. Yet he feels oddly irrelevant. The shadow of the Ward losses looms large, and makes everything now feel like a sort of consolation prize. I’m not sure how the Krusher shakes that feeling.

Eleider Alvarez is a legitimate challenger here, and absolutely deserves a shot at Kovalev’s title. The undefeated Colombian fighter has competed almost exclusively in his adopted home of Canada, and he’s done well for himself. Now, he’s coming in off two notable wins over good veterans. His win over Pascal is particularly noteworthy – yes, Pascal is not at the very elite level, but his only prior losses were to Froch, Hopkins, and Kovalev. That’s good company for Alvarez to find himself in. An all-Canada battle between Alvarez and Adonis Stevenson has made sense for a long time now, but, well, it’s Stevenson, so no.

What can fans expect?

Like I said, this is a solid title fight with the division’s top fighter against a very deserved challenger. It’s also, to a degree, a classic puncher vs. boxer type of battle. Kovalev has the obvious power advantage, as he does over virtually everyone in the division. Alvarez is more of a careful boxer, but Kovalev is no slouch in this area himself. Alvarez is capable of putting up a good defensive fight, and that’s what I expect to see out of him here to avoid the Kovalev power. He’ll probably be able to do just that, taking things to the final bell. But will he have the offensive capabilities to win enough rounds along the way? I don’t see it.
Prediction: Sergey Kovalev, UD

Should you watch?

It’s up against a pair of good UFC title fights, plus it has the potential to be a bit of a slow fight, which makes it hard to pick this one. But Kovalev remains an interesting fighter to watch, and with him, the potential for the big KO is always there.

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