Mancuso: A Right Punch Changed The Division

Atlantic City-  Eleider Alvarez was the unknown light heavyweight who entered the ring at the Hard Rock Hotel And Casino Saturday night in Atlantic City and left with a portion of the title. A right to Sergey Kovalev in the seventh round also changed the complexion of a division that was almost set to unify the titles.

Except, Kovalev was sent to the hospital for observation and will not be in the mix to get all the belts unless a rematch that reportedly was in the contract is set in stone. This was for the WBO title and his worst defeat, considering that Kovalev could not recover from the first knockdown and went down again twice in the round before the fight was stopped.

And on a night that saw a major boxing card return to the boardwalk, the first since Kovalev took the light heavyweight title from Bernard Hopkins in 2014, this was a stunning defeat and could be considered knockout of the year.

Credit: Yeng Luciano

At the time of the stoppage, Kovalev was ahead on all three judges scorecards ar ringside by a thin margin.

But for the 34- year old Alvarez,  an undefeated and relatively unknown Olympian from Columbia, this stunning win does propel him for more opportunity and a chance at the process of putting the puzzle together towards unification of the titles.  

Credit: Yeng Luciano

Prior to Kovalev dropping his title, Dmitry Bivol of Russia did his part at possibly facing Kovalev in December to unify the titles. Bovol easily won a 12-round unanimous decision over Isaac Chilemba and retained the WBA title.

Credit: Yeng Luciano

But all of that changed with one punch on a historic boxing night in Atlantic City.

So the complexion of a competitive boxing division changed, and the right of Alvarez is something to be reckoned with.  Alvarez said he plans to have a role with unifying the titles even with Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack in the picture.

“As the fight went on I wanted to show that I could stay strong and do good things,”Alvarez said.  “His punches were not as hard as they were in the beginning of the fight.

He said about the final knockdown, “It was a two-punch combination that I have been throwing my whole career, and we worked on it in camp. I have always practiced that in camp, and we thought it would work in this camp.”

And it showed because the left and then the right to the head of Kovalev came unexpected, and so were the other two that led to knockdowns.  The ramifications to this ending now belong to Kathy Duva the promoter and CEO of of Main Events who has promotional control with Kovalev and Bivol.

Duva was disappointed  in the outcome and was more concerned with the well being of Kovalev. Her emphasis is seeking a rematch for the former champion and will have to deal with the promotional dealings and management of a new champion.

“Disappointed, yes,” she said. “Sergey may have tired but I been in boxing 40 years and I have come to expect anything. You can’t stun me.”  And there was reference to 11 knockouts on the Alvarez record.

\Anything but this disappointing outcome that certainly changed the complexion of the light heavyweight division and now Alvarez is in control and said he will take on any of the other champions in the division.

Though Duva said, “Bivol at 26-years of age is the future of the division.

If not Kovalev again, who provided a statement that he was okay, then perhaps Bivol will get the opportunity that was unexpected.

Galarza Looking Ahead After Latest KO:  Frank Galarza the junior middleweight from Brooklyn is a fighter with old school mentality and since his arrival under the Main Events promotional banner the results are showing.

Credit: Yeng Luciano

On the undercard that was not televised on HBO, Galarza 20-2-2, 12 KO’s, twice with brutal blows to the body was able to put Brazilian Alex Duarte on the mat.  The ending of a scheduled eight-rounder came at 1:57 of round two after landing a hard right to the stomach of Duarte, 13-6-1 , 10 KO’s.

Credit: Yeng Luciano

It was his third straight win under Main Events since leaving the promotional banners of the PBC and Lou Dibella. And with this latest win, impressive as it looked, Galarza is looking for more and recognition is certainly deserved.

He would prefer fighting another time  before the year concludes. Main Events plans to stage another promotion at the Hard Rock Casino  in December and Galarza says he is ready, willing, and, able to be ready for the next challenge.

“At 32-years of age it’s not too late,” Galarza said at ringside. He defends himself about starting a professional career at a late age, though in boxing standards youth is still on his side in a division that is competitive.

More so now with Jarrett Hurd, who recently unified the division, the task may be difficult. But with the old school in him, Frank Galarza is ready for a challenge and calling on all comers. Meaning, this is a fighter who deserves an opportunity and also his promoters are not against Galarza being that borrowed fighter to get what he wants.

“Rhythm is there,” he said about the early stoppage. “The confidence is there.”  And it showed with the jab and ability to take control early against an opponent who wasn’t giving Galarza an early opportunity.

However, this opportunity came and so did the TKO.  Now it’s back to the gym in a few days and awaiting the next opportunity with that old school mindset of going after the opponents that will give him a chance.

WELCOME BACK: The sold out and enthused crowd of 5.642 in the Mark G. Etess Arena was a good sign that boxing is back on the boardwalk. In the early stages of sports wagering at the casinos, crowds have returned and that is an incentive for more promoters to showcase their fighters.

In two weeks, Top Rank promotes a televised ESPN card set at another nearby Atlantic City resort casino. So in other words, business is good for the sport in Atlantic City. Venues for years hosted major championship fights including three epic Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward title fights that go down in boxing history as epic battles that were also promoted by Main Events.

“The electricity in this building from the fans,” Duva said, “That describes it all.”

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso. Watch Sports With Rich.All Bases Covered You-Tube

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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