By Keith Idec
The Sergey Kovalev-Eleider Alvarez rematch might be headed to an unforeseen venue.
Kathy Duva, Kovalev’s promoter, told BoxingScene.com on Monday night that Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, could be the site of the Kovalev-Alvarez light heavyweight championship rematch February 2. Ford Center at The Star is the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility, just outside Dallas.
Alvarez knocked out Kovalev in the seventh round of their fight for Kovalev’s WBO light heavyweight title August 4 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The Hard Rock’s Etess Arena and The Theater at Madison Square Garden, the sites of Kovalev’s past three fights, aren’t available February 2.
Executives for ESPN, which won the broadcast rights last week to air the Kovalev-Alvarez rematch, want the fight to take place February 2 because they want to televise it the night before Super Bowl LIII, scheduled for the following day at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. ESPN’s viewership typically is high on Super Bowl weekend.
Promoter Bob Arum, whose company negotiated the Kovalev-Alvarez deal for ESPN with Duva and Yvon Michel (Alvarez’s promoter), told ESPN.com on Monday that Ford Center at The Star “probably” will be the site for the second Kovalev-Alvarez bout. Arum has a strong relationship with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who in recent years has tried to make his team’s home, AT&T Stadium, and the newer Ford Center at The Star viable venues for boxing.
Unbeaten IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. helped draw a crowd in excess of 12,000 to Ford Center at The Star for his first-round knockout of mandatory challenger Carlos Ocampo on June 16. The 28-year-old Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) is from nearby DeSoto, Texas, another Dallas suburb.
Russia’s Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) exercised his contractual option recently for an immediate rematch versus Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs), which must take place by February.
The Colombian-born, Quebec-based Alvarez pulled off an upset when he knocked out Kovalev in the seventh round last month.
The 35-year-old Kovalev was beating the Colombian-born, Quebec-based Alvarez on all three scorecards last month – 59-55, 59-55 and 58-56 – when Alvarez clocked Kovalev with a right hand to the side of his head in the seventh round of their scheduled 12-rounder for Kovalev’s WBO 175-pound title. Kovalev got up and tried to fight out of that trouble, but Alvarez dropped him twice more before referee David Fields stopped the action at 2:45 of the seventh round.
ESPN was willing to pay more for the license fee to televise their rematch than HBO, which had televised Kovalev’s previous 14 fights either live on that premium cable network or on pay-per-view. Eddie Hearn – whose promotional company, Matchroom Boxing, has a partnership with Perform Group’s DAZN streaming service – also made a very competitive offer for the rights to the second Kovalev-Alvarez fight.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.