Like the French, the boxing community usually take the whole of August off as holiday. It seems that this year some boxers have booked winter escapes and are available to fill the mid-summer sporting void.
Atlantic City – America’s second home for gambling – is hosting boxing oligarch Sergey Kovalev’s spin with unbeaten challenger Eleider Alvarez and doubling down on the championship action with fellow Russian Dmitry Bivol’s defence against solid contender Isaac Chilemba.
Matchroom and Sky follow up last weekend’s heavyweight drama show with a stacked NextGen event in the Welsh capital headlined by Cardiff’s own Joe Cordina and veteran campaigner Sean Dodd battling it out for the Commonwealth lightweight strap.
KOVALEV v ALVAREZ
The light heavyweight titles may be dispersed between four ‘champions’ but with 28 stoppages in 32 wins and having only lost to the great Andre Ward (now retired) ‘Krusher’ Kovalev is undoubtedly the number one in the division.
Alvarez has earned himself a shot at the belt through an unblemished record of solid victories. To beat Kovalev you need to derail his bully-boy tactics by attacking the body and the Colombian is one of the best in the weight class at it.
WBC champion Adonis Stevenson has continuously avoided Alvarez in the long three years he’s been mandatory for that title but that’s left the 34 year old inactive for 14 months.
Common opponents aren’t always the best barometer but both boxers have faced Chilemba and the difference is telling. Kovalev battered and dropped the Malawian and won clearly on points, while Alvarez eked out a mixed decision win.
‘Storm’ Alvarez is a very good fighter but with only one KO win in his last six scraps even his excellent body work won’t be enough to keep the Russian champ at bay. Add to that Alvarez’s ring rust and it’s clear the challenger is in for a hammering.
Kovalev finishes his weaker opponents in the early sessions and breaks down the tougher ones by rounds 7 or 8 – I expect the latter will happen here.
Bet of the bout: Kovalev to win in rounds 7-9
BIVOL v CHILEMBA
The co-feature fight at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino stars another chip off the old Eastern Bloc. Bivol built an amateur record of 268 wins from 283 contests and as a pro the 27-year-old has won 13 from 13, which includes picking up a world title in his 12th outing and 11 KOs.
This weekend the talented Russian takes on the aforementioned Chilemba. Despite those losses he is worthy challenger at this stage of Bivol’s career and he’ll believe he can draw on his vast experience to defeat the champ.
Chilemba has only suffered one stoppage loss in 32 bouts and that was because of injury, but there is a feeling that after three hard losses in his last four fights he’s been softened up.
Bivol will take away Chilemba’s tremendous jab with his own, superior lead left and the challenger doesn’t have enough dynamite to deter Dmitry. Bivol is like Kovalev with speed – not on speed, but who knows with the Russian doping programme – and he can get a better result than his compatriot in this one.
There is already talk of a unification match-up between the Russians and if both perform well this weekend it could be a huge event.
I think Bivol will hold up his end of the bargain and get a late stoppage win.
Bet of the bout: Bivol to win in rounds 7-12
CORDINA v DODD
Over at Cardiff’s Ice Arena Joe Cordina is looking to collect his first professional title against Liverpool’s Sean Dodd. The ‘Welsh Wizard’ is only seven fights deep into his paid career but he’s considered to be special enough for the fast track.
Dodd’s story is poles apart from Cordina’s. When the Cardiff man was deep in the Team GB amateur boxing factory Dodd was up to all sorts out on the streets of Liverpool, and ‘Masher’ only turned to boxing in his twenties.
The Liverpudlian is known for his energy in the ring but that will give Cordina plenty of opportunities to set traps, counter and attack. The home favourite has six KOs in seven wins, while Dodd has lost three times by stoppage including one earlier this year.
Bet of the bout: Cordina to win in rounds 5-8
The two fights to look for on the undercard are Natasha Jonas versus Viviane Obenauf and Jordan Gill against David Berna.
With one more win Jonas can look forward to a title shot and then a potentially huge unification with Ireland’s Katie Taylor, and I expect Jonas to get the knockout result in the middle rounds. Gill can also add to his stoppage count with an early victory against the glass-jawed Berna.