By Paul Magno | August 06, 2018

How could it not be a good night of boxing when race-conscious “Triple K” Sergey Kovalev gets knocked on his ass and I get proven right about the stupidity of HBO’s matchmaking efforts?

Last week, over at my other gig (, I posted an article about the sheer stupidity of trying to build towards a Kovalev-Bivol light heavyweight “super-fight” in a showcase double-header when both “A-sides” were matched against stylistically difficult spoilers.

Eleider Alvarez and Isaac Chilemba, respectively matched against Kovalev and Bivol, have spent their careers specializing in the art of slowing down and nullifying opponent offense. Even in defeat, I wrote, the two spoilers would likely make the mega-aggressive Russian beasts look bad. If the goal was to work towards whetting the appetite for a coming Kovalev-Bivol war, the HBO Boxing brain trust could not have matched their fighters more poorly. 

I expected things to go bad. I just didn’t see HOW bad they could’ve gone.

Kovalev was, indeed, shut down and nullified, but he was also knocked the fuck out, dropped three times en route to a TKO 7 loss. De-pantsed in his first fight with Andre Ward, then de-fanged in the Ward rematch, and now absolutely destroyed—it’s hard to see a road back to the top for a Krushed Krusher.

And Bivol, who was being given a tongue bath by the HBO announce crew and hard-sold as someone almost otherworldly good, was slowed down, shut down, and made to look “blah” in a bout where he won almost every round. By the end of the 12-round affair, the HBO haircuts with mics were backtracking mightily, talking down Bivol’s lack of shine and now declaring him a green, work in progress to a backdrop of jeers and derisive whistles from the Hard Rock casino audience.

HBO Boxing, which has been doing its best to marginalize itself in recent years with bad business decisions fueled by a general lack of boxing acumen, maybe reached the zenith of its ineptitude on Saturday night. 

The easiest thing in the world would’ve been to grab a couple of game, but overmatched battlers to pit against their 175 lb. beasts and then move on to a big (and marketable) Kovalev-Bivol war of attrition. But, nope, even with the ball teed up to be knocked to the moon, the Ivy League geniuses at HBO managed to mess things up. 

And now, new WBO champ Alvarez, who is an Al Haymon-advised fighter, is free to take his services elsewhere if he likes. Bivol, meanwhile, could very well be left all alone as the sole HBO light heavyweight, somewhat tarnished from this dreary showing and with no big fights available to him on the horizon.

So…yeah…good job with that matchmaking, HBO.

Quick (S)hits:

-- Over on Fox, Andre Berto kept his career alive with a split decision win over Devon Alexander in a pretty entertaining contest. Oddly enough, Alexander looked to be the sharper, all-around better fighter in that bout and was actually winning fairly solidly right up until the middle rounds, even managing to drop Berto in the third round. But Berto kept doggedly pursuing and Alexander took his foot off the gas. I still had Alexander holding on for the close win, but I can’t argue with the decision too much. Now, Berto moves on to maybe another mid-level fight while waiting on one more title shot, one more stab at taking down a division elite. It’s going to be a tough, almost impossible task for the 34-year-old to get back on top, but for the moment, at least, he’s still pushing forward.

-- HBO’s Jim Lampley took some direct shots at WBC light heavyweight champ Adonis Stevenson Saturday night while calling the Kovalev-Alvarez fight. 

“Stevenson does not fight his mandatories,” Lampley said, in reference to Stevenson’s long-time mandatory, Alvarez, fighting Kovalev instead of Stevenson. “[He’s] not interested in supporting the competitive structure of the sport.”

And while it’s true that Stevenson had long-avoided the threat of Alvarez, you could take Lampley’s own words and apply them to HBO sweetheart Gennady Golovkin, who has even a worse track record when it comes to disregarding his mandatories. Last I checked, “Triple G” has only faced one mandatory in eight years and 20 fights as a world champ. 

-- Peter Quillin looked solid in beating a very going-through-the-motions J’Leon Love on Saturday’s Berto-Alexander undercard. Quillin could compete at 168 if he gets sharp and stays active. The UD over Love was only his second fight in 32 months and, at 35, “Kid Chocolate” needs to keep chugging forward. The super middleweight division is starting to get thick with solid talent and it would be fun to see another quality fighter added to the pack.

Got something for Magno? Send it here:

JULY 15, 2019
JULY 14, 2019
JULY 13, 2019