By Tré Berry III | 10/31/2019
On Saturday night, the world will tune in, as two familiar Box-Office attractions in the world of boxing will square off in the center of the ring, that being RING/WBA/WBC“Franchise” Middleweight Champion 🇲🇽Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (52-1-2, 35KO👊) moving up to take on WBO Light-Heavyweight Titlist 🇷🇺Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (34-3-1, 29KO👊) in pursuit of Kovalev’s Title. There is plenty of uncertainties surrounding this match-up due to its uniqueness of widely differing styles and approaches to the ring so the curiosity of this one makes the pre-fight build-up and wait compelling in a sense. Because it is complex due to reasons stated above, I will take a deep look at what lies beneath the surface.
A POINT TO MAKE – Before I start, I will get this out of the way, upon hearing of this fight being inked, I personally didn’t like it, from the standpoint that there is unfinished business to be had at their respective weights, especially in Canelo Alvarez’s case. Delving into that a little bit, there is a mass amount of talent at the top of the 🎫ticket in the Middleweight division that is available and has expressed open willingness to accept the challenge towards fighting him, with all those in the picture mixing it up to get closer to solving the Undisputed picture.
Canelo in particular signed the 💲co-venture deal, pairing Golden-Boy & DAZN’s platform together in deal with stipulations put in place to make opportunities easy toward the route to becoming Undisputed Champion, through the means of stiff competition. With Canelo not electing to fight 🇺🇦Sergiy Derevyanchenko as his mandatory for his IBF belts sake, and turning a blind eye to WBO Champ 🇺🇸Demetrius Andrade and a 3rd 🥈🇰🇿Gennadiy Golovkin fight (Golovkin both for monetary gain & for widespread critical validation) automatically states that he had an immediate change of plans once the inked was signed on the mega-deal, deviating from his Undisputed aspirations that he was vocal about achieving just a year prior.
ON THE FLIP SIDE – Now what I DO like about the fight are of couple of things, one of them being the actual breakdown of the different styles itself and how they will mesh together on Saturday. Though I shared my concerns earlier regarding the Middleweight scenario, it’s a good look for Canelo to take on any form of major Titlist in a weight division that he hasn’t officially fought in yet for his first official assignment, as I feel that it is permissible to take on lesser opposition for a first fight in a weight class just to get your footing, and in getting used to the differences that the new weight class provides. Now that’s out the way, let’s look into what makes both Canelo Alvarez & Sergey Kovalev the fighters that they are.
ANALYSIS 🤔 Kovalev when you view boxing in its totality is probably the last of a dying breed in terms of being that prototypical stand up Russian boxer that used to be the norm in decades past, which was also stereotyped in some ways by Ivan Drago’s epic depiction in the movie 🎬🎥“Rocky 4”. From there, you can see from the onset that Kovalev has the typical strengths exuded from that style, and also the expected weaknesses that come from it as well.
First and foremost, he is nicknamed “Krusher” for a reason, that reason being that he has been one of the hardest hitters in recent time, and is one of the most prolific knockout artists for this 2010-2019 decade, especially in his best years. He has a jab that still rivals some of the best in the sport today, and he has a very long reach, which makes him extremely difficult to deal with when he’s fighting on the outside.
His weaknesses come in the form of having no inside game whatsoever on the offensive side of the ledger, and he does not have good punch resistance to the body. Kovalev has also had a bit of a stamina problem throughout his career, though his new 🗣️Head-Trainer Buddy McGirt seems to have improved him in that area – however with Kovalev being the power-puncher type at the age of 36 to pair with his past woes, stamina will continue to be something to pay attention to, as it may surface once again.
Now Canelo Alvarez has a wide 💰bag of tricks, that is known throughout boxing. His best attribute is his counter-punching, which in my view he is the second best counter-puncher in all of boxing behind ♛🇺🇸Terence “Bud” Crawford, so Canelo is always one who looks for any little mistake that you make, so opportunities can create itself for him to make you pay with a high success rate. He also possess one of the best chins in boxing, as it’s hard to put a dent in the redhead, who has never been down in his pro career, and the only times he has been hurt was by 🇵🇷Jose Miguel Cotto (Miguel Cotto’s brother), and Golovkin on multiple occasions in their 2 bouts.
Alvaez’s build is deceptive being that he looks like he’s built for just power, but his speed is MUCH faster than what his build would indicate, and in his fight against Kovalev, there will be a seismic difference between the two in that area. Canelo is an elite defender, mostly predicated on his upper body movement, and he is a good body puncher. Where Canelo’s weaknesses come into play will be challenging for this particular fight.
Alvarez, as sharp as he is tends to fight in spurts, or in chunks of a round instead of giving you full activity from start to finish through the rounds, which gives opponents opportunities to re-establish, and re-calculate their methods after he gets off a good string of an offensive attack. That segway’s well into his low punch output, which leaves room for a high end boxer with a high motor to tack on the points. He too has had a bit of a stamina problem, citing some of his biggest fights where he appeared to lose some gas along the way once he would get to the last third of a fight. With both boxers strengths and weaknesses laid out, let’s take a look at how they blend together and see what comes of it.
THE BREAKDOWN – Kovalev’s major chance in this fight is to get his power jab working and keep Canelo outside all fight, to nullify his action, and to land the vaunted power to try and get him out of there. Canelo is by far the more versatile 🗡️weapon, though he is the smaller man – however I wouldn’t be concerned about ⚖️weight for Alvarez in this contest. Typically Canelo in his career, at weights of 154, 155 (I had to) and 160, he tends to show up on fight night as some sort of Cruiserweight, given his routine insane amount of weight gain after his weigh-ins. For the most part, he could stick to his regular training regiment, and just start his re-hydration process a day early and come into the ring around let’s say 180 lbs, retain his speed and try to do what he normally does.
Considering that Canelo is very economic with the punch output, his chance at winning the fight will dramatically increase if he steps outside of his comfort zone – but that’s something he will have to internally commit to, and aggressively dart inside to attack the body of Kovalev. Canelo’s power at 160 and 168 gets too much recognition,and is more of a sharp, stinging puncher instead of a devastating hitter at those weights, only inflicting real damage on a vulnerable mid-level fighter such as 🇬🇧Rocky Fielding during his run at those weights.
Now with that point being made, Kovalev arguably has the weakest body resistance of any Championship level fighter going in today’s sport, so that bodes well for Canelo, drastically enhancing the optics of his power as for JUST this match-up at Light-Heavyweight ONLY, his power may come into play big time if he can get to the Russians ribs and do extensive damage. Kovalev has to stay defensively responsible downstairs, and he has to use his reach to paw and measure to keep the smaller man at his mercy, and jab, jab, jab away.
If Kovalev fails to implement the jab the way he needs to, Canelo’s defensive prowess and upperbody movement could create some nightmare scenarios for the Krusher, so everything is dependent upon establishing himself as the bigger man in the form of outside punching. While both have ❓question marks about the stamina, the advantage goes to the younger man who could still put it together in spurts, so I feel like Kovalev will be at his most dangerous through the first 3 – 4 rounds, and maybe in the last third of the fight if it gets there, with Canelo being at his optimal form in those middle rounds.
For Sergey’s sake, he cannot let this one get to the scorecards, considering there has been at least one funky score in most of Canelo’s biggest fights. For Alvarez, he has a mission, and that’s to break the taller man down to his size, and try to make him as short as possible by putting him to the canvas. We will see how it all pans out come Sunday morning, but here is my personal prediction for this bout.
🥁|| PREDICTION – Kovalev’s jab will be a problem early, and the power will be felt by Alvarez early as well, perhaps stunning the redhead to a certain degree, but Canelo will regroup. Understanding what he has to do, I see him fighting with extra aggression to get inside Kovalev’s long reach, to where Kovalev won’t have any answers for the speed and body-shots as Canelo uses his shiftiness upstairs defensively to get around the vaunted jab, and the big right cross. Kovalev may begin to weaken during the middle rounds, but he will keep his focus on trying to 💣bomb Saul out, but Canelo by then will have him figured out enough to find ways to implement his superior overall attack to get the Russian out of there en route to hoisting the WBO Light-Heavyweight Title.