Eleider Alvarez plans to prove he’s an elite boxer in title fight with Sergey Kovalev
TORONTO — Eleider Alvarez has long been sitting in the No. 1 contender slot, but the title shot never came to fruition.
He outpointed Isaac Chilemba in November 2015 to ascend to the top spot in the WBC’s 175-pound rankings, but rather than face promotional stablemate Adonis Stevenson, Alvarez elected to accept step-aside money on numerous occasions.
While Stevenson beat up on lesser foes, Alvarez improved his stock with victories over popular but faded Canadian countryman like Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute, whom he knocked out in five rounds last year.
Now, he’s on the doorstep of his first title opportunity, and it comes against the light heavyweight division’s top fighter. Alvarez meets Sergey Kovalev on Saturday in Atlantic City (10 p.m. ET, HBO), and the Columbia native is anxious to mix it up with one of the sport’s biggest names.
“I’m so ready, I’ve waited for this for a long time,” Alvarez told The Ring with trainer Marc Ramsay translating from French. “For me, I really think it’s a better fight because Kovalev is more well-known in the U.S. than Stevenson and more respected. When I win, they’re going to respect me more.”
Alvarez (23-0, 11 knockouts) owns a deep well of amateur experience and possesses the boxing skills to trouble Kovalev, who has faced two no-hopers since consecutive defeats to Andre Ward. The 2008 Olympian is well-aware of Kovalev’s incredible power, but he’s confident that his past victories over other guys who own tremendous power will help him in his first foray on HBO.
Alvarez, The Ring’s No. 5 light heavyweight, is certainly unproven to this point, especially against a talent like Kovalev. Alvarez admits that the fighters he faced who packed a big punch — like Edison Miranda and Isidro Prieto — lacked the technique Kovalev boasts.
But now Alvarez is stepping up to the elite level, and it’s sink or swim time.
“I’m a complete fighter … I’m confident that I will win this fight,” Alvarez said. “I’m a classic boxer, I have a ton of amateur experience, I”m good and I’m fast. I’m a threat to anybody in the light heavyweight division and I’m going to prove that against Kovalev.
“It’s the biggest fight of my life. … I know he hits hard and we respect that, but I’m not afraid of that.”
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger