Boxing: Back Alvarez to defend his crown

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BOXING analyst Nick Munday (@NM_Sport) shares his betting thoughts on Saturday night's big bouts on BoxNation.

Eleider Alvarez v Sergey Kovalev | Sunday 3rd February 2019, 05:00 | BoxNation

There’s a terrific world title triple-header taking place in Texas this Saturday night, topped by Eleider Alvarez’s rematch with Sergey Kovalev for the WBO light-heavyweight bauble.

Kovalev (32-3, 28 KOs) was the most feared fighter on the planet just a few years ago, but since consecutive defeats to American great Andre Ward he's lost the aura of invincibility. The first defeat in November 2016 was a controversial decision, but there was no doubt about their second eight months on when he was stopped in eight rounds and looked befuddled.

Ward retired so the belts were relinquished, and Kovalev bounced back to reclaim his old WBO crown in November 2017, but his short second reign was ended last August when Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs) crushed the ‘Krusher’.

At the time of the stoppage, the Russian was ahead on all three cards after applying the jab well, but Alvarez wasn't deterred. He began to fire off quick combinations before landing with a fight-changing overhand right to the temple. The Russian touched the canvas twice, before ’Storm’ blew him away at the end of round seven.

What has Kovalev got left?

Since losing all his belts, Kovalev has changed trainers twice, had drinking problems, and also came close to death after crashing his car. Now he’s being sued by a woman who accused him of assaulting her and her dog in June.

With that court case looming – hardly ideal preparation for a bout of this magnitude – you have to question whether Kovalev's head is in the right place before sharing the ring a man who pummelled him in devastating fashion just six months ago.

We know that Alvarez can take Kovalev’s best shots, after the Russian found some success early on in their first tussle. Also, the 34-year-old knows he can hurt the Russian and could opt to be more aggressive in the second meeting.

Storm is brewing

While Alvarez will now carry the confidence of a world champion, Kovalev hasn’t been the same since the Ward defeats. With Alvarez’s hand speed, this isn’t a good match-up for the challenger stylistically.

Alvarez is in his prime, two years younger and desperate to prove his world title win was no fluke, as his opponent has claimed.

Odds-against quotes were quickly gobbled up last weekend and the bookies now rightly make Alvarez the favourite. There’s an argument he should be slightly shorter against a man with just two victories in his last five outings, so back the champ at 8/11 (SkyBet).

Kovalev’s two stoppage defeats have come in rounds seven and eight. Now he’s the challenger he’ll have to really dominate to catch the judges’ eye, meaning he could get caught again coming forward. History tells us rematches usually go a similar way so it’s worth a play on another knockout for the champion in the second half of the fight.

Oscar Valdez v Carmine Tommasone | Sunday 3rd February 2019, 03:00 | BoxNation

Undefeated world featherweight champion Oscar Valdez defends his WBO belt against Italian Olympian Carmine Tommasone on the undercard.

This is very much a tune-up opponent for Valdez (24-0, 19 KOs) – hence his odds of 1/50 – because he’s been out of action since last March due to a broken jaw sustained against Scott Quigg (UD win).

Prior to that thriller, Valdez had also beaten solid contenders Genesis Servania and Miguel Marriaga on points. The 28-year-old won his world title via second round knockout in July 2016 and is known for his all-action style.

Patient start from Valdez

Admittedly he's a level above Tommasone (19-0, 5 KOs), who's never fought outside of Italy before, so he could probably end this early if he wanted to. As a proud Mexican, Valdez naturally loves a tear-up but for this reason he recently teamed up with new coach Eddy Reynoso, who also trains Canelo Alvarez.

The aim of the move was to tighten up his defence and he says he wants to show off his boxing skills this weekend. So it's likely we'll see a more calculated display to enable him to work on a few new techniques.

Fans are praying for a unification with Josh Warrington in 2019, so Valdez will also need some rounds in the bank before taking on the Leeds Warrior.

With the bookies taking one look at Tommasone’s record and assuming he’ll get put away early, there’s some value in the total rounds market.

You can double your money by backing over five rounds. I think Valdez will be patient during the opening stages as he tries to impress his new trainer and shake off any ringrust, before stepping it up around the halfway mark. For settlement purposes, this bet will win should the fight reach round six.

Best Bets

Eleider Alvarez v Sergey Kovalev – Eleider Alvarez to win (4/6 SkyBet)

Eleider Alvarez v Sergey Kovalev – Eleider Alvarez to win in Rounds 7-12 (7/2 SkyBet)

Oscar Valdez v Carmine Tommasone – Over 5 Rounds (1/1 Ladbrokes)

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