By Tré Berry III🖋️
If you were still awake after an ambiguous 1:18 A.M. EST start to this main event (more on that later), you seen a contest devoid of much entertainment throughout, but finished up with a bang, as ♛🇲🇽Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (53-1-2, 35KO👊) became the new WBO Light-Heavyweight Titlist by sledgehammering 🇷🇺Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (34-4-1, 29KO👊) and putting him down and out, with Sergey’s head propped up and hanging on one of the middle ropes as he was put out of commission. Alvarez exited the MGM grand as a simultaneous 2-division Champion, pairing the WBO Light-Heavyweight Title with his ♛RING/WBA/WBC “Franchise” Middleweight World Title belts in his trophy mantle as his active hardware.
To start off, it was a rather odd decision for 💻DAZN to make a conscious effort to delay the start time for the main event, to try and get as many of the watchers of MMA’s main event to convert over so that they can see the totality of that show, and catch the main event here in boxing with no interference between the two sports. For one, the fight started extremely late (or early if you will, depending on what part of the world you are watching from), and from boxing’s standpoint, it is not a good look to hang on the whim of whatever the other rivaling sport is doing which led up to the delaying of the fight card. I’m not entirely sure if the people in attendance at the MGM Grand was fully aware of their decision, considering that many fans started to grow restless, booing and chanting out random obscenities. Shortly after ⏰1 EST, the 3 National Anthems (Russia, Mexico, United States) were sung, and the afterthought of a fight was finally underway.
The first few rounds were very lethargic, with Kovalev taking the outside position to heavily pepper with the jab, using it as a range finder in spots, and in other instances, throwing it out there just to touch Canelo to throw his rhythm off. It look a little while for Canelo to find his distance, and opportunities to counter-punch, though he landed a couple of big body-punches early that didn’t do the damage in the moment, but Canelo was trying to put 💵money in the 🏦bank to make a deposit later in the fight. Canelo’s activity was very low through the first 5, however him getting used to Sergey’s attack a little bit, he improved upon his defensive positioning and started to block a higher percentage of jabs than in earlier rounds, though Sergey was still getting a good enough barrage of them in. Canelo started to slowly get in his range by slipping the jab and began to land some nice counter right hands over the top, as well as some substantive power shots to the body, both with the left and right handed attack.
A slow fight began to become an interesting one right around the 8th round, with Kovalev stepping up his work rate and 📌tacking on points, while Canelo appeared to be moving through the ⚙️gears in mid-round to try and figure out what the best method would be next to try to damage the Russian. In the 10th round, with the feeling of the fight ⚖️evening out, Canelo knew that he had to get more aggressive and take more chances, so he did and started to find better pockets of success landing to the head and to the body, looking more like the Alvarez that we know. Kovalev throughout the fight didn’t exactly discourage him from coming in, being that for some reason, Kovalev 97% of the way did not commit fully to his power shots. Yes I know he was very conscious about what would be fired in return if he relied on the power too heavy, since it takes longer to get your hands back in defensive position the harder you fire your punches out there, but what I expected and what should’ve been done more by Kovalev was to use a variation between hard and soft shots, peppering the jab, firing a thudding one every once in a while, short right hands, power cross in differing sequences to keep Alvarez off-balanced mentally.
The 11th round, Saul really turned it up, and he eventually found what he was looking for, firing a left hook, right hook combination while Kovalev was by the ropes, then following with a chopping straight right hand masked by Canelo bracing his elbow on Kovalev’s left shoulder that wobbled Kovalev slightly, starting the 📉downfall for his night. You could tell he was hurt, and a bit discombobulated with his equilibrium thrown off from the temple shot. Kovalev was REALLY discombobulated when a big left hook landed on the jaw, so Canelo threw one final right hand that landed on the sweet spot of the chin and Kovalev corkscrewed down to the canvas, yet his head never got there as his head was dangling on the middle rope, completely out of his gourd for the knockout victory.
THE UNCUT TRUTH – Kovalev’s Head-Trainer 🗣️James “Buddy” McGirt drew up an outstanding gameplan when you put it under the microscope from an X & O standpoint, but from the fighters point of view, it was perplexing to not see any snap on Kovalev’s punches at all through the 11 rounds. Kovalev never had fast hands in his career, but you used to routinely see the snap on his punches that he committed to when the power was on display, just something to note as we see Kovalev in this advanced stage in his career. As for Canelo, this was the 3rd division that he has won a major World Title in, always an excellent accomplishment, one to put in the books, and a highlight knockout to put on the highlight reel for Alvarez. With that being stated, widespread throughout, people are mistakenly counting his secondary Title claim in the Super-Middleweight division, winning a secondary WBA World Title while ♛🇬🇧Callum Smith is the legitimate official WBA Champ, as well as Thee Ring-Champion of the division. To make a point of what’s being addressed here, what made 🇵🇭Manny Pacquiao’s win against 🇺🇸Keith Thurman more special was that with Pacquiao being secondary WBA Champion, and Keith holding the real WBA Title, Pacquiao post-fight could legitimately call himself the WBA Champion en route to officially becoming the oldest Welterweight Titlist in history, only being acknowledged once he won the version of the WBA that truly counts. For what the 4 organizations are individually, only 4 Titlists from those sanctioning bodies at the top of the heap should be recognized, therefore Canelo’s real claims at Titles are through his lengthy run at Super-Welterweight, at Middleweight & now Light-Heavyweight as a new Triple-Crown Winner & not a 4-division Titlist like what has been shoved down your throat at every turn.
WHAT NOW? – 🤔 For Canelo, the beauty of it all is that at the very least, holding a Title at Light-Heavyweight broadens his range of options, and with him being the 💲#1 money man in the sport, there are certain fights (not all of them) he can look at in the Light-Heavyweight division as viable challenges, as well as the lot at 160 and 168 who has been lined up trying to get a piece of the pie, and to take on the challenge against the Ginger. For Kovalev, long term plans shouldn’t be addressed right now, taking into consideration the nastiness of the knockout and how he was left to hang on the ropes, I’m sure he’s gong to the hospital to get checked out to make sure he is okay, and that everything is working out properly. An interesting fight to score while it lasted, we will throw up what the official Judges scorecards were, as well as some fight stats just for academic purposes.
FINAL PUNCH-STATS 🥊🥊
🤜 Canelo Alvarez = 133/345, 38.6% Landed.
🤜 Sergey Kovalev = 115/745, 15.4% Landed.
OFFICIAL SCORECARDS ✎🗒️
✎ Don Trella = 95 – 95 for a DRAW
✎ Julie Lederman = 96 – 94 for CANELO ALVAREZ
✎ Dave Moretti = 96 – 94 for CANELO ALVAREZ
PROJECT COMBAT SCORECARDS ✎🗒️
✎ Tré Berry = 96 – 94 for SERGEY KOVALEV