WEEKEND BOXING REWIND

Kovalev reinvents himself to reclaim title

Sergey Kovalev lands a right hand against Eleider Alvarez. (Photo courtesy of Top Rank Promotions.)

It was a night of redemption for Sergey Kovalev, as the light heavyweight claimed the World Boxing Organization belt for the third time in his career by defeating Eleider Alvarez by unanimous decision (120-108, 116-112 x2) Saturday in Frisco. SportsMap.com scored the bout 117-111 for Kovalev.

The fight was the first for Kovalev under new trainer Buddy McGirt. From the outset Kovalev (33-3, 28 KO) looked like a completely different fighter from each of his previous career fights. Instead of his usual all pressure style, the heavy handed Russian seemed happy to box with Alvarez (24-1, 12 KO,) landing three and four shot combinations, and getting out of the pocket and back to safety. Alvarez looked puzzled by Kovalev's new tactic throughout the fight. Kovalev outlanded Alvarez in 11 of 12 rounds finishing with 213 landed punches to Alvarez's 111.

The win sets up plenty of interesting potential fights for Kovalev, including the possibility of a unification bout with WBA light-heavyweight champion and fellow Russian countryman Dmitry Bivol. But Kovalev will need to get another win prior to any fight: he is due in court in March on felony assault charges.

LOPEZ PASSES TEST AGAINST MAGDALENO

Diego Magdaleno was supposed to be a big step in in competition for super-lightweight prospect Teofimo Lopez. After the bout ended, it looked like Lopez could have stepped higher. Lopez (12-0, 10 KO) battered Magdaleno throughout the fight before closing the show with a brutal knockout in the seventh round.

The fight was marred by poor officiating and poor work from Magdaleno's corner. Magdaleno (31-2,13 KO) should have never been allowed to leave his corner for round seven; he had been bloodied and badly beaten and appeared to have no chance to stage a comeback. But Magdaleno's corner allowed him to continue and the 32-year old veteran was quickly knocked out after a pair of hooks dropped him to the canvas for good. Magdaleno's corner took exception to Lopez's celebration. Lopez completed a backflip in the center of the ring and home run swing celebration while Magdaleno continued to lay motionless on the canvas.

VALDEZ SHAKES OFF RING RUST IN KO OF TOMMASONE

Featherweight titleist Oscar Valdez made his return to the ring after an 11th month injury layoff, knocking out the overmatched Carmine Tommasone. Valdez (25-0, 20 KO) appeared to be rusty early in the fight, missing badly on looping hook attempts. But Valdez found a home for the power shots by round three, knocking down Tommasone (19-1, 5 KO) three times en route to a knockout victory.

Tommasone looked like a worthy opponent early in the fight, causing Valdez's early troubles with landing power shots. But once Valdez figured Tommasone out the fight was virtually over. Tommasone had no power behind his punches and pressed the issue, overpowering the featherfisted Tommasone.

The night wasn't all bad for Tommasone. Despite being knocked out just minutes prior, the 34 year old Italian national dropped to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend during the post fight interview. She said yes, moving Tommasone's record to 1-1 on the evening.

SportsMap Weekend Boxing Rewind

Manny proves age is just a number

Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions.

Manny Pacquaio outworked, outsmarted and outslugged Keith Thurman on Saturday night in Las Vegas to claim the WBA Welterweight Super Title and re-announce his presence to the rest of the division. Pacquiao looked like his old self, especially early in the fight, to win a clear but competitive decision over Thurman, who entered the ring ten years Pacquiao's younger. Ringside judges scored the fight 114-113 for Thurman and 115-112 (twice) for Pacquiao. SportsMap.com also scored the bout 115-112 in favor of Pacquiao.

Pacquiao, who now splits his time between boxing and senatorial duties in the Philippines, looked like vintage Manny in the early going, landing a right hook near the end of the first round that sent Thurman sprawling to the canvas. Thurman was up quickly and didn't appear to be badly hurt by the knockdown. Pacquiao continued the quick start by landing the harder, more damaging punches throughout the first half of the fight. Pacquiao routinely initiated the action by pressuring Thurman with flurries of combinations. The knockdown, paired with Pacquiao's early success gave him an advantage on the scorecards he would never relinquish.

Thurman began to feel Pacquiao out as the fight moved into the middle rounds, timing Pacquiao's volume combinations with well placed counters. While Thurman snapped Pacquiao's head back at times, he never rose beyond competitive and never seemed to take the fight back over from Pacquiao, who laid claim to it following the knockdown.

If there was any doubt the 40 year old could finish off the victory, it was removed in round ten, when Pacquiao badly hurt Thurman with a body shot. The blow left Thurman covering up to the body and leaving his head vulnerable to combinations for the remainder of the round. Thurman bounced back with a nice round 11 but the damage was done. Entering the final stanza Thurman needed a knockout. But once again it was Pacquiao who landed the heavier work.

Thurman was gracious in defeat, saying he felt the fight was close but acknowledged that he had lost. It was the first defeat in Thurman's career. He expressed interest in making a rematch.

By winning Pacquiao once again has claim to being a top-3 welterweight in the world, along with PBC stablemate Errol Spence as well as Terence Crawford. A unification bout with Spence, the IBF welterweight champion, would be easy to make. However it won't be made in the immediate future. Spence is set to fight WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter in September. Spence would be a heavy favorite over Pacquiao. Because of this fact, paired with Pacquiao's marketability, a fight between the two would likely only be made it what would be Pacquiao's last fight. After Saturday's performance Pacquiao's career doesn't appear to be anywhere close to finish, so I would expect Manny to be back in the ring in the fall against the mandatory challenger for his WBA title.

UGAS DOMINATES FIGUEROA

On the undercard Cuban national Yordenis Ugas has no trouble defeating Omar Figueroa, winning a unanimous decision by scores of 119-107 (three times.) SportsMap.com also scored the fight 119-107 for Ugas.

Ugas won every minute of every round, beating Figueroa at his own game. Figueroa, content to fight on the inside, was a step behind the quicker, more technically skilled Ugas. He was repeatedly countered with uppercuts up the middle, and never made any adjustments that led observers to believe Figueroa could solve Ugas. The fight makes Ugas the mandatory challenger for the WBC welterweight title. Ugas fought Porter for the WBC title earlier in the year and lost a controversial decision.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome