The Illusionist: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev.
WHEN: Saturday, November 2
WHERE: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
TIME: 10:00 PM ET
WBA middleweight and regular super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (52-1-2, 35KOs) will attempt to move up two weight classes and dethrone WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29KOs) November 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
This fight has quite the back story as it wasn’t the first or second choice by DAZN or Alvarez’s promoter Oscar DeLaHoya. The original expectation was for Canelo to fight in trilogy against his rival Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, however, the then unified champion felt the fight wasn’t deserved as he fought tougher competition (Daniel Jacobs and Rocky Fielding) than his Kazakh rival (Steve Rolls and Sergiy Derevyanchenko) since their last fight.
DAZN attempted to flex their muscle and push the Mexican icon into a rematch with Golovkin to no avail. DAZN also made the head scratching move not to put WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade on their shortlist of opponents for Alvarez which only included Golovkin and Kovalev.
Canelo would choose Kovalev and attempt to win a strap in his fourth weight class.
As for game plans, this match-up is straightforward with the biggest intrigue being how Alvarez handles the new weight and the power of Kovalev.
Keys To Victory: Sergey Kovalev
For the WBO champion, it’s simple but not necessarily easy. He will have a two inch reach advantage and four inch height advantage. Everything starts and ends with Kovalev’s jab and he’s got an excellent one.
He’ll need to keep his jab on Alvarez at all times to control range, score points, and maintain the pace he wants in this fight. In recent fights against Anthony Yarde and Elieder Alvarez, he has shown severe stamina issues. Allowing Canelo to get to close could spell disaster for the WBO champ because he’s at a disadvantage when it comes to hand-speed and combination punching.
Kovalev also has a poor static defense which has been exploited in several of his recent fights. Andre Ward, Elieder Alvarez, and Yarde all troubled him with close range combos.
There’s two causes for this.
First is that Kovalev when forced backwards has a habit of getting disorganized in his footwork so he ends up backing up in straight lines. The second issue is his defense is poor. He doesn’t block punches well and he doesn’t slip punches either.
Even with the flaws mentioned above, Kovalev has what it takes to win. He simply needs to use his jab and 1-2 to control range and rack up points. Second use his step and slide footwork to maintain his position and keep Canelo at bay. If he can do that he wins the fight!
Keys To Victory: Canelo Alvarez
The keys to victory for Canelo are easier said than done but they’re all things we’ve see him execute. First he needs to attack the larger fighter’s jab. Canelo in his last fight with Jacobs has shown he knows how to do this.
In the early rounds of that fight Alvarez stepped to Jacobs very quickly forcing him to take a quick step backwards to adjust to the range. When this happened Alvarez would simply throw a combination and pile up points.
The second tactic he used was the split counter, where he’d step out wide against the jab and fire a right-hand in between the guard. Several fighters have utilized these tactics against the Russian champion to great affect and I expect we’ll see it work in this fight.
Next Alvarez will need to stay busy on the inside, and utilize his hand-speed advantage. Canelo must breakdown Kovalev’s body to secure a victory so he’ll need to capitalize on the inside. If the three division champion executes these keys he’ll win by a solid margin.
This fight has some intriguing intangibles, first is the fact it took Kovalev three attempts to make weight. This could be due to the quick turnaround from the Yarde fight whom he fought on August 24. Second there is a re-hydration clause in the bout.
They’re using the same procedures as the IBF so Kovalev can’t be above 185lbs twelve hours before the fight. Kovalev is used to this since he’s fought in seven IBF title fights.
For Canelo it’ll be interesting to see if his power carries up with him. There’s also the issue of stamina, both fighters have shown weakness in that area. Canelo probably has the advantage due to being younger and not having to cut weight.
I expect this to be a back and forth fight with a lot of excitement. In the end Kovalev may have too many obstacles to overcome. The combination of age, coming off three tough fights, and a short turnaround may prove too much.
I expect a 116-112 type fight in favor of the Mexican superstar. As far as betting odds Alvarez is a 3-1 favorite, and the smart play is to put something on the light heavyweight champion. Kovalev isn’t upside-down in this fight and has the tools to pull off the upset.
By: Corey Cunningham