This Saturday, the best light heavyweight in the world is fighting on HBO, you just have to figure out who it is.
What: Sergey Kovalev vs. Eleider "Storm" Alvarez, Light HeavyweightsWhen: Aug. 4
How to Watch: HBO 10 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: Because Sergey Kovalev is still a hard-hitting monster puncher, but now there’s a blueprint to beat him.
Whenever a fighter loses (especially via stoppage) they lose something. Whether it is an internal confidence, an external ability to intimidate opponents, or just an overall aura of invincibility, losing a boxing match has far reaching consequences beyond the zero in your losses column. Sergey Kovalev got outboxed and stopped by Andre Ward, and although Colombia’s Alvarez is not Andre Ward, he is still a capable opponent who does not know what it is like to taste defeat.
Alvarez is 23-0 with 11 knockouts, and has beaten some well-known names like Edison Miranda, Lucian Bute, and Jean Pascal as a pro, following a standout amateur career that saw him win a gold medal at the 2007 Pan American games. He is ranked as the eight best light heavyweight in the world by ESPN. But, above all else he has never been defeated, and that means something. On Saturday night, we’ll find out if it means enough.
What: Dmitry Bivol vs. Isaac Chilemba, Light HeavyweightsWhen: Aug. 4
How to Watch: HBO 10 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: Because the best light heavyweight in the world may be the guy stuck on the undercard of his more famous countryman.
The defending WBO and IBA light heavyweight champion of the world, who has only lost to Andre Ward, including one highly contentious decision many think should have gone his way, and holds a record of 32-2-1 with 28 knockouts is fighting in the main event, and the boxing world is more excited about the other Russian light heavyweight fighting on the undercard. But, such is the power and reputation of Dmitry Bivol, the first man to ever stop Sullivan Barrera. The slick boxer with deceptively hard hands, is 13-0 with 11 knockouts, holds the WBA light heavyweight title, and admits he is being groomed for a unification bout with Kovalev.
His opponent is Isaac Chilemba, the rugged Malawian who has faced the likes of Kovalev, Tony Bellew and Eleider Alvarez, but only didn’t make the final bell in one fight, when he retired with a shoulder injury. Chilemba is unlikely to win this fight, but if he makes the fight ugly he may take some of the polish off of the Dmitry Bivol hype train. Conversely, if Bivol goes out and destroys him, then Bivol will have warranted all the prestigious compliments being thrown his way.
Maybe we’re just tired of Adonis Stevenson beating up on cans while talking about facing Kovalev. Maybe, Kovalev’s possibly racist act has finally grown thin, maybe the new shiny toy always attracts our attention over the tried and true, or maybe, just maybe Bivol really is that good. The only way to know is to tune in on Saturday night.
What: Andre Berto vs. Devon Alexander, WelterweightsWhen: Aug. 4
How to Watch: Fox 7:30 p.m. ET Why You Should Care: Because these guys were once considered the future of the welterweight division, but only one can make a final run at fulfilling their promise.
Andre Berto and Devon Alexander are two fighters who were considered the future kings of the welterweight division. Berto was a Golden Gloves champion, an Olympian (for Haiti), and ESPN’s 2006 prospect of the year. But, after winning the WBC welterweight title and amassing a record of 27-0, Berto began dropping fights to lesser fighters like Victor Ortiz, Robert Guerrero and Jesus Soto Karass. When Floyd Mayweather announced him as a possible opponent in 2015, the fight was considered so lopsided it was called a joke (Mayweather-Berto was once considered a joke, how far we’ve come with May-Mac right?). After a lopsided beating, Berto’s career faltered again, as he became best known for being zero threat to Floyd and the worst practitioner of the shoulder roll in boxing history.
Devon Alexander also had a stellar amateur career, going 300-10 but failing to make the Olympics. Still, he jumped out to a 21-0 record as a pro, with wins over well-known names like Demarcus “Chop Chop” Corley and Junior Witter. He won the WBC light welterweight championship, but soon lost it to Tim Bradley. Alexander bounced back with wins over Marcos Maidana and Lucas Matthysse, but losses to Shawn Porter and Amir Khan soon followed before Alexander was embarrassed in a loss to Aron Martinez, a Mexican brawler a fighter of Alexander’s caliber should never lose to.
And now the two will meet, with career redemption on the line. With a big win on Fox, the winner can work their way up the welterweight ladder for one more shot at fulfilling their potential, the loser will forever be relegated to a perpetual “I thought they would be better” status.
What: Peter Quillin vs. J'Leon Love; Super MiddleweightsWhen: Aug. 4
How to Watch: Fox 7:30 p.m. ET Why You Should Care: Because Peter Quillin recently opened up about his deeply relatable struggles, and that makes him incredibly easy to root for.
Why do you root for a fighter? Do you like their style? Do they come from the same country as you? What is it about a person you’ve never met makes you want to see them do well?
Peter Quillin has never been all that interesting as a fighter. The man who went by the nickname “Kid Chocolate” was very good, having held the WBO middleweight title, and having beaten guys like Gabriel Rosado and Winky Wright, but if you asked most people who Peter Quillin was, they would tell you he’s Starlord from Guardians of the Galaxy.
Until this week. See, Quillin recently gave an incredibly captivating interview with Yahoo’s Kevin Iole where he opened up about how his uncle’s death, his marital problems, and his losing his title to Daniel Jacobs all combined to make him seriously consider suicide, and to seek mental health treatment. He now is using fighting as a way to inspire people going through the dark things he went through, as he explained, “I share my story in the hope that it resonates with someone else and it helps them. If they watch my fight and I can motivate them to keep fighting in their lives, that makes me feel better than anything, better than a championship. That’s what it is about.”
I don’t know if Quillin will beat J’Leon Love, the 30-year-old with a 23-1 pro record, and after all he’s been through I don’t know that it really matters whether or not he does. I just know that I will be rooting for him.
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