Two-time light heavyweight world champion Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) puts his WBO Light Heavyweight Title on the line against long-time WBC Light Heavyweight number one Contender Eleider "Storm" Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs) at the Etess Arena in the brand new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on Saturday, August 4, 2018.
Kovalev vs. Alvarez will be the first professional boxing event to take place at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, which opens on June 28. Kovalev, 35, of Chelyabinsk, Russia, will be fighting for the fourth time in Atlantic City, including his 2014 victory over future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins, which unified three of the four light heavyweight world titles. The only light heavyweight world title Kovalev has not had the chance to win belongs to WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Adonis "Superman" Stevenson. Kovalev and Stevenson have come close to getting in the ring several times, but "Superman" seems set on avoiding the hard-hitting Russian.
Undefeated Eleider Alvarez also knows a little something about being avoided by Stevenson. Alvarez defeated Isaac Chilemba in 2015 to secure the WBC mandatory position and the opportunity to face Adonis for his piece of the light heavyweight crown. Since then, Alvarez is 4-0 with notable wins over former world champions Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute. After more than two years since becoming the mandatory contender and almost one year since his last fight, Stevenson still has not agreed to fight Alvarez, so Eleider jumped at the opportunity to face Kovalev for the WBO World Title when the offer arrived.
Kovalev explained, "Alvarez has earned his title shot but Chickenson dodged him; just like he dodged me. I want to fight the best in my division. Alvarez took the fight with me without hesitation. I respect that and I am excited to face him in my return to Atlantic City."
According to Alvarez, "I am extremely happy. I said yes as soon as I had the offer! I waited for a long time to get a shot at a world title. I don’t want to hear about Adonis Stevenson anymore: I am focused on Sergey Kovalev! I am really motivated, it is a huge fight against a really high-class opponent. Kovalev is right now the best fighter of the division. I wanted to fight in a world championship bout to show my talent and now I finally have the opportunity. I know it is a really hard fight, but I will work hard to become world champion. This is my dream. I am a boxer who loves challenge and who performs at my best when I am challenged. I now have what I want. Kovalev is an all-around solid fighter, with a good jab, good technique and a hard puncher, but my trainer knows him well! I have no doubt, I will be the next WBO champion."
Eleider is managed by Stéphane Lépine, who explained, "The offer from Kathy Duva arrived and we were really happy. Fighting against Sergey Kovalev, an established and recognized name of the boxing world, on HBO, we couldn’t ask for any better opportunity! For me, it was a no brainer; we had to accept that amazing offer. We were also too tired to wait for Adonis Stevenson."
Marc Ramsay, Eleider’s trainer, has faced Kovalev before as the trainer for Jean Pascal. He said, "’Eleider is an experienced fighter, he has fought in other opponent’s backyard, he also fought in front of huge home crowd. We were waiting for a title shot for so long, he is now very ready to perform. The objective for him when we started together in the pro ranks was to become world championship fight. That is a promise I made him when he arrived in Montreal from Colombia. I am really confident that Eleider have what it takes to become world champion."