HBO Sergey Kovalev vs Eleider Alvarez and Dmitry Bivol vs Isaac Chilemba
By Kid Hersh
HBO boxing is back in Atlantic City at the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel for the first time in a few years now. Hopefully here to stay!
First up on the broadcast was rising star Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11KO's) vs Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2, 10KO's). In the first round, Bivol had a very good jab to the body for the majority of the round and was catching Chilemba with some good punches. Chlemba was staying back, playing his usual game while Bivol was pressing forward and throwing punches with bad intentions. In the second round, Chilemba started coming forward to try and change the pace of the fight and Bivol was happy to oblige. Bivol was looking to catch Chilemba with hard counters such as left hands. In the third round, Chilemba landed his best punch of the fight; a right hand that cracked home on Bivol and you could hear as about a flush a shot as a guy can land. Bivol did not even blink, however, and came back with power shots of his own. In the fourth round, the fight appeared to be settling into a rhythm although Bivols output was less and he was not throwing the right hand very often. Chilemba was showing that he is a very cagey veteran, since Bivol was not throwing the right hand because whenever he did unload it Chilemba had a counter right of his own that would crack home. Bivol was still just barely outworking Chilemba, however, edging out the rounds due to pressure and a slightly higher work rate. The fight did have a feel of a Chilemba type of fight though - which he is very good at doing. Bivol was not getting off first in the second half of the fight, which was the difference as it was turning into a bit of a lacklustre affair. There was lots of dead time in the coming rounds, with Bivol circling and boxing very well in the ninth when he got on his toes. It appeared more and more that perhaps Bivol had hurt his right hand somewhere earlier in the fight - because he was shaking it next to his waist at times and really not committing to it. He might be winning the fight with only one hand! The fans and media were getting pretty restless with Bivol down the stretch as they were hoping that he would unload the tank and go for a knockout but he would coast to the surprisingly wide UD, which was 120-108 on two cards and 116-112 on the third.
The main event featured Sergey Kovalev (32-2-1, 28KO's) vs Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11KO's). The first round was pretty quiet, minus Kovalev coming out aggressively but only for the first ten seconds as he settled down into a rhythm after rushing out. Kovalev was pressing forward though per his usual style but not unloading much for punches. In the second round, he landed a few but Alvarez was bullying the bully at times - including the end of the round when he bent Kovalev over the ropes in a dirty tactic to no doubt let him know that he came to fight and wasn't going anywhere. In the third round, Kovalev was able to take some initiative back and then he carried that into the fourth round as he was blasting Alvarez with powerful right hands and everything but the kitchen sink. Alvarez was holding his ground and pumping himself up but was taking some very heavy punishment as Kovalev appeared to have zoned in on his movement and defense and found many cracks in the armor.