Canelo a big favorite, could creaky Kovalev shock him?
By John J. Raspanti
This Saturday night, light heavyweight champion, Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev, a favorite for most of his career, will enter the ring against middleweight titleholder Canelo Alvarez as the designated underdog.
Not a slight one either. (Canelo is favored 4-1)
Kovalev accepts the challenge.
“The end will show who’s the best,” Kovalev said a few weeks ago during a media conference call. “Canelo is a very talented boxer and really experienced. We will show to the boxing world that Krusher is here. Krusher is back.”
Hall of Fame trainer, Buddy McGirt, who’s hiring last year likely prolonged Kovalev’s career, thinks that Canelo made a big mistake in choosing Kovalev as his next opponent.
“I just think that they picked the wrong veteran to mess with when they picked Sergey," McGirt said. “They should have found somebody else. The world will see on November second that Sergey Kovalev is the real deal.”
Kovalev, 36, is enjoying something of a late career revival. His knockout loss to Elder Alvarez last year signaled to many that Kovalev was shot. The so-called experts told him to retire. Instead, he said he wasn’t in proper shape, hired McGirt, and asked for a rematch.
The changes paid dividends in the sequel. Kovalev boxed smartly, outworking Alvarez, who was knockout crazy in every round. Kovalev won the fight by unanimous decision.
He followed up that victory up by stopping Anthony Yarde a few months ago in Russia. The fight was rocky at times for Kovalev. He was buzzed in round eight, but, after McGirt threatened to stop it, rebounded to knock out Yarde.
Soon after, his fight with Alvarez, rumored for months, was officially announced.
Alvarez edged Danny Jacobs last May. The decision wasn’t controversial, but points decisions over Gennady Golovkin, Austin Trout, and Erislandy Lara, were. Some believe Alvarez can’t lose by decision.
Does Kovalev feel like he’ll have to knock out Alvarez to win?
“Yes, but that’s not my goal. My goal is to get the victory, by any costs. By knockout is very well. Yes, of course.
Alvarez, 29, the WBC, and RING middleweight champion, moved up a division in 2018 and brought Rocky Fielding to his knees in less than three rounds. The fight was called a mismatch when it was announced. The news wasn’t fake. Canelo did what he wanted, putting away the towering Fielding with body shots.
Will Canelo be targeting Kovalev’s body Nov.2?
"Without a doubt, (going to the body against Kovalev) is one of the most important punches for any fighter,” Alvarez said. “But of course, that is a weakness that he has, so we will attack the body."
McGirt knew going into the fight that Kovalev’s belly would have a big X on it.
“I mean, it’s obvious that’s his game plan, because that’s one of his biggest tools, is body punching,” McGirt said. “And for the record, nobody likes to get hit in the body. I don’t give a shit who you are.”
Can the bigger Kovalev pull off the upset?
Sure, he can, but it’s unlikely.
It’s not a coincidence that Alvarez waited for Kovalev to get older before challenging him. He did the same thing with Gennady Golovkin. Still it’s a risky fight for Alvarez.
Kovalev’s still got some game, but likely not enough. His jab is beyond solid. The blow knocked out Yarde in his last bout. Power is the last thing to go with older fighters.
Alvarez is younger and faster. Speed kills. His chin is solid. These attributes should pave the way to victory Saturday night in Sin City.