Many feel Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35KOs) has already achieved a long-lasting legacy inside the boxing ring, but can the excellent small man beat a very good big man?
When Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29KOs) won his first world title at 175lbs against Welshman Nathan Cleverly back in August 2013, a month later at the catch weight of 153lbs the Mexican hero lost for the very first time in his career against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
It would have been hard to fathom Canelo taking on the then destructive Kovalev at Light-Heavyweight six-years-ago but fast forward to 2019 and that’s exactly what the 29-year-old is doing.
There is no doubt that the size difference will be significant, especially because there was no rehydration clause in the contract so no weight check on the day of the fight either. Chances are Kovalev will step into the ring around the 190lb mark, giving the Russian a 10lb + advantage on fight night.
Many have dared to be great but very few are successful. Legends of the sport like Sugar Ray Leonard, Michael Spinks, Roberto Duran, Bernard Hopkins, Henry Armstrong and Roy Jones Jr all had successes well over their natural weight limit which is the very reason why they are now considered as greats.
If Canelo wants to follow in the footsteps of greatness and write a new chapter into boxing history, he will need to use all his attributes to be successful.
Canelo has a wealth of skills at his disposal that will assist him against Kovalev. He is a more accomplished boxer, a masterful counter puncher and currently one of the best inside fighters in the world today.
His lateral movement is world class, and this will be a key ingredient for when he does get on Kovalev’s chest. He will need to target that body with left-hooks and get out before suffering any damage.
Canelo is also a terrific combination puncher who can expertly put his shots together in one movement in a variety of ways. If the challenger is to be victorious, he will need to implement all his assets to overcome the threat of Kovalev.
Kovalev’s Key to victory
‘Krusher’ will look to keep the fight at range by working off that jab and keeping Canelo on the back foot. The WBO Champion has one of the stiffest jabs in the business and it will be a vital ingredient to his game plan. The aim will be to fire in a strong jab to keep Canelo off balance, out of range and needing to re-set.
Kovalev’s right-hand is also a force of nature, he needs to disguise it and use it often which will keep Canelo guessing. Throwing punches regularly, moving well and staying busy to upset Canelo’s rhythm will be pivotal, especially when the Mexican retreats to the ropes which he often does in fights against the classier operators.
Path to victory….
For Canelo to become a three-weight world champion he must not allow Kovalev to dictate the pace of the fight with his jab, he has to try and take the centre of the ring and slip those jabs coming in and work the body. This will take Kovalev’s his legs away and play a huge barring into the second half of the fight.
Kovalev will be cautious of the body attacks so may leave himself exposed to the looping right-hand to the chin.
Kovalev will try to lean on Canelo’s smaller frame in hope of wearing him down when in the clinch. But he will need to be careful as that bigger frame can be exploited and could force the 36-year-old to retreat if Canelo gets a hand free to pepper his lower half.
Canelo may lack the power but he will make up for that with his speed and precision so combating Kovalev’s work simultaneously will send Kovalev onto the back foot and out of danger.
Elephant in the room…
There are so many different scenarios in which this fight plays out and the victor should be the guy who implements their game plan better then the other. But we would be naive to think that this fight will be won solely on what happens in the ring.
We cannot hide from the fact that boxing has a dark side where business comes first and it wouldn’t be good business if the money making machine of Team Canelo lose this fight. The only way Kovalev wins this fight is by knockout, anything less – no matter how well he performs – will not be good enough to retain his title.
So on that note, I can only see one man winning and that man is Canelo by a dubious unanimous decision. A judge or two may hand in a lopsided score card that will be questionable and the Mexican idol will make history at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
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