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Sergey Kovalev ready to fix 'mistake' in Eleider Alvarez rematch

FRISCO, Texas -- Former light heavyweight world titleholder Sergey Kovalev has stuck to his talking points throughout the buildup to his rematch with titlist Eleider "Storm" Alvarez.

Alvarez was trailing on all three scorecards when he rallied to score three knockdowns in the seventh round for an upset knockout victory to take Kovalev's 175-pound world title on Aug. 4 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Kovalev, who quickly exercised his option for an immediate rematch, has consistently said that what happened that night was an "accident." He has steadfastly said that he overtrained and had no energy as he and Alvarez went into the second half of the fight.

Because of that, Kovalev ended his three-fight stint with trainer Abror Tursunpulatov, whom he had raved about, and hired veteran trainer Buddy McGirt, the former two-division world titleholder and newly elected International Boxing Hall of Famer.

"I made a mistake last time, but this time I will fix it. This Saturday, I will fix this situation and be on top again," Kovalev said Thursday at the final prefight news conference at the Ford Center at the Star -- the training facility of the Dallas Cowboys -- where he and Alvarez will meet again Saturday in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card (midnight ET). "If not, I am not the Sergey 'Krusher' Kovalev. Believe me, this Saturday will be the best version of me because I turned everything on to get in the best shape of my boxing career.

"My goal is to collect all four belts, but I dropped this belt on my way to my huge goal. After [the loss], a lot of people thought I should stop my boxing career. No, that's not in my character to stop my career by losing. When I win, I will think, stop or not to stop? But when I lose, it was 100 percent no."

Alvarez, a mild-mannered sort, has grown tired of Kovalev's excuses. He called him a sore loser when they announced the bout at a news conference in December in New York.

On Thursday, Alvarez did not come off as angry or bitter, but he made his feelings well known about what he thinks of Kovalev's reasons for why he lost the fight.

"I believe that's a lot of excuses he's making," Alvarez said through an interpreter. "When you lose, you have a lot of excuses. I had a great game plan with my team. If he says that was an accident, well, then he needs to get ready for another accident."

Alvarez said he expects to win again and continue to make his name in boxing. His life, he said, has already changed a lot because of the victory.

"What has changed is my popularity, but I'm still the same guy," said Alvarez, a popular figure in his native Colombia who fights out of Montreal. "Thanks to God, I'm a mentally strong person. I have come from the bottom, basically, and little by little, I've been getting my stuff. Now I have more, so that's why I think I've been able to handle everything well."

In the fight that will precede the main event, 2018 ESPN prospect of the year Teofimo Lopez (11-0, 9 KOs), a 2016 Olympian fighting out of Las Vegas, will step up in opposition for a 10-round lightweight bout with former world title challenger Diego Magdaleno (31-2, 13 KOs), 32, of Las Vegas.

As usual, the 21-year-old Lopez was brash and confident.

"I'm taking over the show, and it's with all due respect to these fighters out here," Lopez said. "What we came out to do, and what we plan to do, is take over and exceed everybody's expectations. People are talking very highly of me, so I have to back it up. I'm used to it through my father [Teofimo Lopez Sr.], who is my coach, who talks very highly of me already. Come Saturday night, you will see something bigger and better. As the opponents get tougher, we're going to get better.

"I believe the fight with Mason Menard on Dec. 8 [a 44-second knockout] proved to everyone at that point that we are contenders. To me, I already feel like I'm a world champion. To me, the only thing [missing] is a world title."

Magdaleno vowed to give him a true test.

"Everything I've been through is going to [help me]," he said. "Even the losses I've had or whatever only made me stronger. I am here with fuego, and I will bring everything I need to. I've been in the ring, but you haven't been seeing me. My last two fights were in Mexico, but what you haven't seen is who I've been in the ring with. [Jose] Pedraza, I got him ready for [Vasiliy] Lomachenko. [Jorge] Linares, I got him ready for two fights. It's nothing but fire. We are ready to do this."