By Keith Idec
Eleider Alvarez immediately took exception early in December when he was told following their press conference Sergey Kovalev claimed he over-trained for their fight.
Wait until Alvarez hears what Kovalev said Wednesday. The former champion claimed after an open workout to promote their rematch that Alvarez “got lucky” when he hurt Kovalev with a right hand that completely changed their light heavyweight title fight in the seventh round August 4.
Colombia’s Alvarez dropped Kovalev with that right hand. Russia’s Kovalev got up, but Alvarez floored him twice more before referee David Fields stopped their scheduled 12-rounder at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Kovalev was winning on all three scorecards when Alvarez knocked him out (59-55, 59-55, 58-56).
“The last fight he got lucky,” Kovalev said Wednesday. “He got lucky, of course. “I lost concentration for just a couple of seconds – a lack of attention just for one second. Then I couldn’t get focused after the knockdown.”
The 35-year-old Kovalev believes he trained too hard for his first fight against Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs), who won the WBO light heavyweight title from Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs).
That knockout defeat, the first of his three professional losses Kovalev hasn’t questioned, prompted the former champion to replace trainer Abror Tursunpulatov with Buddy McGirt. Kovalev turned to Tursunpulatov once he and ex-trainer John David Jackson went their separate ways following his controversial, eighth-round TKO loss to Andre Ward in June 2017.
“Maybe I wasn’t ready enough,” Kovalev said of his loss to Alvarez. “I don’t want to use it as excuses, but on Saturday I will prove that I am better than Alvarez. And that is my goal, to get my belts back. That’s my goal right now and it is a big motivation.”
The 34-year-old Alvarez is a slight favorite over Kovalev in a main event Saturday that’ll be streamed by ESPN+ a little after midnight ET/9 p.m. PT.
Kovalev came to the Dallas area trying to remain focused now that a woman who alleged Kovalev caused serious injuries by punching her in the face in June has filed a lawsuit against the former champion. He faces a felony assault charge in that case, but he has done his best to keep his concentration on his immediate rematch with Alvarez.
“My prediction is that I will get back my belt,” Kovalev said. “I don’t know how, but I will get it back at any price or any cost.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.