Weekend Takeaway: Kovalev & Lopez shine, Cheeseman crumbles

It turns out that rumours of Sergey Kovalev’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated. I liked Kovalev’s body…

It turns out that rumours of Sergey Kovalev’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated. I liked Kovalev’s body shape; he looked like someone who’d been in a proper training camp and having expert coach Buddy McGirt on board would not have done any harm. The Russian’s focused start to the bout helped set the tone. Sergey took centre ring with purpose and looked like someone who was making a statement. Leading off, always keeping the champion in a responsive posture, Alvarez appeared a touch confused for much of the early going. A lot of Kovalev’s work was hitting arms and gloves, but it was enough to keep Alvarez occupied and win the rounds.

One of the great misnomers of Kovalev’s career is that he’s a slugger who can’t box. I’ve seen people claiming this, but I cannot entirely agree with that assertion at all. You don’t run Andre Ward so close by being a one-dimensional puncher. There are nuances to his game – see the Bernard Hopkins fight for further evidence.

In their first meeting, Alvarez showed that he could be a ruthless finisher when presented with the opportunity. In this second encounter, he showed that he was inefficient when it came to creating those opportunities. Tall, imposing, and clearly physically capable, Alvarez needed Kovalev to stand in front of him, which the “Krusher” never did.

It was interesting to see respected American journalists like Lance Pugmire and Mike Coppinger having the fight so close throughout. Coppinger would’ve scored it a draw had Alvarez taken the final session. Those scores seemed wide of the mark from my vantage point. I was struggling to give the Colombian a clear round during the first six, with Kovalev dominating in the most part. One judge awarded every round to Kovalev which was more in line with my thinking than the 116-112 duplicates. Kovalev reclaimed the WBO light-heavyweight strap for his efforts. More importantly, he polished his name and record regarding big unification scraps in the future.

Ted Cheeseman was the latest British hope to come a cropper at European level. In a sport that eulogises world titles to such a degree that it seems not winning one is almost seen as a career failure, fighters sometimes slip on the rungs of a ladder they are climbing too hastily. Cheeseman was being groomed for a grudge match with domestic rival Anthony Fowler. Spain’s Sergio Garcia was supposed to be a stepping stone, but he turned out to be a stumbling block. Ignore the baffling 115-114 scorecard in Garcia’s favour; this fight wasn’t close.

After the fight promoter, Eddie Hearn, spoke of Cheeseman’s heart and desire. Eddie was right that neither could be questioned. The skill disparity between him and Garcia is more worrying, however. Cheeseman simply takes too many shots. This flaw has been highlighted in previous bouts, but nobody had exposed them to such a degree. Hearn needed a Cheeseman win to set up a tasty European title clash, but Ted will have to go back to the drawing board in much the same way Lewis Ritson did when he lost to Francesco Patera last year. The question is: with so many TV stations now involved, demanding a constant stream of fights, fighters, dates, and boundless content, are some fighters being pushed into prime positions too soon?

Teofimo Lopez might be one of the hottest prospects in boxing right now. The heavy-handed New Yorker has been matched well enough to gather a string of highlights reel KOs – and he is delivering the goods. On paper William Silva, Mason Menard and latest victim Diego Magdaleno held good records. Behind the numbers all three possessed soft underbellies, lacking the speed and tenacity to live with someone as enthusiastically ferocious as Lopez. Trained by his abrasive father, clearly instilled with a bit of devilment himself (the roar over Magdaleno’s stricken body was borderline contemptuous), this kid has the tools to go far.

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