Sergey Kovalev believes the tight turnaround time leading into his 2019 match with Canelo Alvarez was the main reason for his losing that fight.
Kovalev, the former longtime light heavyweight titlist, was asked recently about his thoughts on countryman Dmitry Bivol’s vaunted win over Alvarez last Saturday night in their 12-round light heavyweight title bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Bivol outpointed Alvarez handily, but he won narrowly on all three judges' scorecards, which all reflected a 115-113 score in favor of the Russian.
Unlike Bivol, Kovalev failed to get past Alvarez, succumbing to a series of power shots in the 11th round of their light heavyweight title bout back in November 2019, in what was otherwise a competitive contest; Kovalev was effective in large stretches using his size and lengthy jab to keep Alvarez at bay.
Kovalev believes he could have pulled off the same sort of victory as Bivol had he had more time to rest – one month, to be exact. At the time, Kovalev was coming off a brutal 11th-round technical knockout of Anthony Yarde in Chelyabinsk, Russia, Kovalev’s hometown. The fight took place on Aug. 24. His fight with Alvarez was a little more than two months later, on Nov. 2, which did not leave Kovalev with the kind of break he would have wanted after a grueling fight. But with a career payday at hand, Kovalev was in no position to dictate terms.
“Yes, of course, I watched the [Bivol] fight,” Kovalev said on Ask the Experts with Curran Bhatia. “Believe me, if Canelo gave me one month [more] rest after my previous fight, which I did in my hometown in 2019, August. Then the result should be the same as his fight against Bivol.”
Kovalev (34-4-1, 29 KOs) is set to make his first foray into the ring since the Alvarez loss this Saturday in his debut at cruiserweight against Tervel Pulev (16-0, 13 KOs) in a 10-round headline bout of a Triller Fight Club card at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
Regarding the Alvarez fight, Kovalev made it clear he wanted an extra month only for recuperating purposes. Kovalev also pointed out that adjusting to time zones was another factor that did not exactly help his performance against Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs).
“Not to prepare,” Kovalev said. “Rest. I needed rest. I just had five days’ rest after the fight (against Yarde) and then changed the time zone from Russia to America and started training camp with Canelo. This is a crazy – nine weeks only between the fights. I lost the weight for Anthony Yarde, fight for August, from 200 pounds. Twenty-five pounds I lost for that fight.
“Again, everything happens for a reason. What happened happened. Just now I want to [congratulate] Dmitry Bivol on a great victory. Wish him good luck in the future. If someday Canelo will agree to fight with me, maybe he will want to fight a comeback fight with me – I’m ready. But just let me fight now this Saturday. Let me drop from my body rust.”