Alvarez makes first title defense in rematch with Kovalev

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Eleider Alvarez has a message for Sergey Kovalev if the Russian thinks a simple mistake cost him his WBO light heavyweight championship belt last summer.

The rematch is Saturday night at team headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys north of Dallas.

“I believe that’s an excuse he is making,” Alvarez said through a translator. “When you lose, you have a lot of excuses. When you win, you have no excuses. He says that was an accident. Well, he’s got to be ready for another accident on Saturday.”

WBO light heavyweight champion Eleider Alvarez, left, of Colombia, and Sergey Kovalev, right, of Russia, pose for photos after their weigh-in in Frisco, Texas, Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Alvarez won in his first shot at the title in Atlantic City New Jersey, last August when he knocked down Kovalev three times in the seventh round. Kovalev was leading on all three scorecards going into the round.

There was talk of a unification bout for Kovalev (32-3-1) in the 175-pound division if he had kept his title against Alvarez. Instead, there were more questions for the 35-year-old following his third loss in five fights.

“This is my goal: get back my belt that I dropped on the way to my big goals,” Kovalev said. “Yes, I made a mistake last time. But this time I will fix it. This Saturday will be the best version of me.”

Half of the undefeated Alvarez’s 24 victories have been knockouts. The 34-year-old Colombian was a replacement in his first match with Kovalev after legal issues nixed a bout with Marcus Browne. Alvarez isn’t the unknown fighter now.

“Things have changed a lot for me,” Alvarez said. “But I’m still the same guy.”

Tags: Alvarez , Dallas Cowboys , Eleider Alvarez , Light Heavyweight Champion , Sergey Kovalev , WBO