The WBO light heavyweight champion will face Eleider Alvarez at the 6,000-seat Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena. HBO Championship Boxing will broadcast the fight.
Alvarez stepped into the bout last month after the original challenger, Marcus Browne, withdrew due to ongoing legal problems. However, Alvarez may actually be a better opportunity for Kovalev, as he is a higher-ranked opponent.
Major boxing events used to be common in Atlantic City
The last major boxing match in Atlantic City also involved Kovalev. He fought Bernard Hopkins in November 2014 at Boardwalk Hall and won a unanimous decision.
However, high-profile boxing matches are much fewer and farther between than the 1980s or 1990s. The gap is a sign of the hard economic times that have plagued Atlantic City since its heyday.
Some of the more notable fights in Atlantic City history include:
- Tyson – Spinks: Mike Tyson knocked out Michael Spinks in 91 seconds and became the lineal heavyweight champion of the world.
- Barkley – Duran: Roberto Duran captured the WBC middleweight title via split decision.
- Gatti – Ward III: In their rubber match, the two men battered each other as relentlessly as in their previous two fights. Gatti managed to score the unanimous decision victory.
- Foreman – Holyfield: The incumbent champion Evander Holyfield prevailed via unanimous decision in what was Foreman’s only major speed bump in his comeback.
- Mercer – Morrison: Tommy Morrison was regarded as an heir apparent to the heavyweight championship, but ran into “Merciless” Ray Mercer, who delivered one of the most brutal knockouts in boxing history to the up-and-comer.
With luck, the return of big-name fights heralds the resurgence of the Atlantic City economy. However, the fortunes of this fight may now be linked in a different way.
NJ sports betting decision changes everything
The US Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) has created a mess. Even though sports betting is legal federally, each individual state must now decide whether to offer gambling on sporting events.
In New Jersey’s case, its Legislature already passed a bill to authorize sports betting and is likely a couple weeks away from completing its regulatory framework. The ability to directly gamble on events such as this fight will likely drive traffic higher than ever and push legislators to move quickly on NJ sports betting laws.
In the end, success hinges on execution. And right now, things are still up in the air for AC casinos. Let’s hope Hard Rock Atlantic City will do it right.