Unbeaten Eleider Alvarez stunned Sergey Kovalev on Saturday, knocking the Russian champion down three times in the seventh round to capture the WBO light heavyweight title.
Alvarez hit Kovalev with a powerful combination that sent him to the canvas for the final knockdown of the fight at 2:45 of the seventh to give the Colombian his first world title.
“I just can’t describe how I feel,” Alvarez said. “I wanted to show him that I am strong, I have a good chin and am ready for big things.”
The 35-year-old Kovalev was trying to re-establish his dominance in the light heavyweight division in his first real boxing test since losing in back-to-back fights to Andre Ward in November 2016 and June 2017.
Kovalev was the more aggressive of the two boxers and was winning the majority of the rounds heading into the seventh.
But then he let his guard down and Alvarez seized the opportunity to land a barrage of heavy punches and go on to win the fight in one of the biggest boxing upsets of the year.
He knocked Kovalev down the first time with an overhand right to the side of the head and the second time with a left hook and a straight right to the forehead.
He then finished him off with a right hook and left uppercut combination and at that point the referee stepped in with 15 seconds before the bell in front of a crowd of 5,600 at the Hard Rock Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Kovalev was taken to hospital after the fight to receive medical treatment.
“I feel OK. Thank you everyone, thank you very much to all the fans around the world for your support,” Kovalev said. “I love you, and I’m fine.”
The result derails plans for a light heavyweight unification bout between Kovalev and Dmitry Bivol, who retained his WBA belt with a unanimous decision over Isaac Chilemba on the same card.
Bivol controlled the early and middle rounds but seemed to tire near the end as Chilemba started to win some rounds. Bivol did enough to win but failed to get the knockout that many had predicted before the fight.