The card at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City drew a sell-out crowd of 6,000.
Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KO's), 35, a Russian Federation native residing in Los Angeles, appeared to be done, but referee David Fields allowed him to continue, which was a mistake. But Alvarez, who improved to 24-0 with his 12th knockout, slammed Kovalev with a right hand midway through the seventh, dropping Kovalev on the seat of his trunks.
"I'm happy that we're working together because he has helped me a lot", Kovalev said in an interview with ESPN.
Fighting Alvarez in four months might be took quick of a turnaround for Kovalev coming off such a brutal loss. Main Events' Kathy Duva, whose company promotes Kovalev, told BoxingScene.com early Sunday morning that she'll give Kovalev some time to rest and think about when he'll want to attempt to regain his WBO light heavyweight title.More news: Great white shark breaches below researcher off Cape Cod
"I feel OK. Thank you everyone, thank you very much to all the fans around the world for your support", Kovalev said. Eleider Alvarez has been out of the ring for almost a year, but is the Colombian ready to face off against this confidence-stricken version of Kovalev? Kovalev got up once more, but one punch sent him crashing back to the canvas as the referee called the fight, giving Alvarez the minor upset of a win and titles. Sergey was dominating and Alvarez came back and stopped him.
"I'm ready for all the best fighters in my division and the best in the world", said Alvarez, a virtual unknown until Saturday night. But if Kovalev prevails, as expected, perhaps Kovalev V Stevenson finally happens on the boardwalk, with powerful new star Bivol opening against another premier challenger beyond Chilemba. "I can't stop smiling right now because [on Saturday], the whole world will know who Eleider Alvarez is".
Alvarez initially floored Kovalev with a big, straight right in the seventh.
In Kovalev's first fight back after the Ward debacles, he knocked out Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in the second round in November to win one of the belts Ward had vacated upon his retirement.More news: Ruby Rose cast as lesbian Batwoman for CW
Meanwhile, Bivol successfully defended his WBA light heavyweight belt with a unanimous decision over Isaac Chilemba, who fights out of South Africa.
It wasn't until the fourth round when Kovalev tried to exert his power, landing several hard punches that tested Alvarez's chin.
Adonis Stevenson, the Montreal-based light heavy champ holding the WBC strap evaded him on two occasions, with promoter Yvon Michel figured out a benefit package as compensation for Eleider Alvarez's deferment of the inevitable. But when that fight was delayed time and again, he quickly accepted the fight with Kovalev when it was surprisingly offered.
"I wanted to show that I could stay strong and do good things", Alvarez said.More news: Here's why Elon Musk wants Tesla to go private
Still, Bivol won by shutout scores of 120-108 on scorecards from judges Eugene Grant and Ron McNair, and George Hill scored it 116-112.
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