Alvarez has been listed as around a 4-1 favorite by some outlets, which is substantial by boxing standards.
Is Alvarez really too good for the 175-pound titleholder? Is Kovalev really faded. And if so, how much of his ability has he retained? These questions and others will be answered inside the ring at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
For now, we can only give our hypotheses on what we expect. Here is The Case for Alvarez, The Case for Kovalev and The Reality, as I suspect it will play out.
Will the ability of Canelo Alvarez (right) to land punishing body shots be the difference in his fight with Sergey Kovalev? Ethan Miller / Getty Images
THE CASE FOR ALVAREZ
Moving up two divisions – from 160 pounds to 175 – to face a fighter of Kovalev’s ability is a significant challenge. No way around it. That said, there is a reason Canelo is the prohibitive favorite.
One, as good as Kovalev is, Canelo is better – perhaps much better. And I learned long ago that the more talented fighter usually wins regardless of other factors, including size. Alvarez has evolved into an excellent all-around boxer, particularly on defense. He’s difficult to hit cleanly. He can hurt you with either hand to any part of the body. And he’s durable. When’s the last time you saw Alvarez hurt by a punch?
He’s proved all of the above over and over again against some of the biggest names in boxing.
Two, Kovalev appears to be in decline to some degree. Former two-time opponent Andre Ward believes that the 36-year-old is about 70 percent of what he was in his prime. That seems about right. And consensus is that the Russian is vulnerable to the body, which we saw in the rematch with Ward and against crude, but strong Anthony Yarde in August. Alvarez’s specialty? Punishing body work. (Sigh.)
If all of the above is true, the weight difference won’t amount to much. Alvarez is just too good for this version of Kovalev. He’ll probably will outbox the champion, break him down with an increasing number of body blows as the fight progresses and win going away.
Sergey Kovalev was tested by Anthony Yarde in his last fight but emerged victorious. AP Photo / Anton Basanayev
THE CASE FOR KOVALEV
Maybe Kovalev hasn’t declined as much as people think.
The three-time 175-pound titleholder has looked good in his last two fights under new trainer Buddy McGirt, who seems to have lit a fire under his protégé. Kovalev rebounded from a stunning knockout loss to Eleider Alvarez by thoroughly outboxing the Colombian in the rematch. And while he had a few harrowing moments against Yarde in his last fight – specifically, he was hurt badly in Round 8 – he led on all cards when he stopped the Englishman in the 11 th round.
Perhaps more emphasis should be placed on Kovalev’s ability to overcome difficult moments than the punches that got him there.
His perceived weak midsection? Kovalev seems to be baffled by that notion. And McGirt pointed out that all fighters are vulnerable to the body if the right punches land there. That said, you can bet they did a lot of work on strengthening his abs and devising a strategy to protect them.
And, finally, what happened to the adage that “a good big man beats a good little man?” Kovalev is naturally much bigger than Canelo, he’s an underrated boxer with a good, heavy jab and he has been known as a big puncher. Even at 70 percent of what he was, he certainly remains “good.”
Can Alvarez get inside that jab? Can he handle Kovalev’s punching power? Can he hurt Kovalev? These are legitimate questions. I can see Kovalev making it close or even stopping Alvarez if he lands the right punch or combination of punches. Alvarez probably will celebrate once again on Saturday night. AP Photo / John Locher
I think it’s Alvarez’s fight to lose. He’s the better, younger, fresher, more durable (at least at middleweight) fighter. To me, that adds up to a victory for the gifted Mexican.
I think Kovalev will try to keep Alvarez at the end of his jab and land enough power shots to keep it close going into the late rounds or possibly hurt the smaller man. Kovalev might also try to get Alvarez out before he gets rolling, at which time it might be too late to get much done.
I just don’t think Kovalev will succeed, at least not consistently. Alvarez is an unusually clever, adaptable boxer. He’ll find ways to get inside and do damage. His refined defensive skills will make him an elusive target. And when (if?) he does get hit, his sturdy chin probably will serve him well.
Alvarez will bide his time, box, land the punches that are open to him, test Kovalev’s body whenever he can and eventually wear down the bigger man. I don’t see Kovalev surviving 12 rounds of that. I think he gets stopped in the 10 th or 11 th round.
It’s a truly monstrous night for combat sports on the evening of Saturday, November 2nd. Not only do you have UFC 244 in New York, you have Canelo Alvarez’s move up to light heavyweight, as he takes on WBO champion Sergey Kovalev. Alvarez is the world’s #1 middleweight, but now he’s jumping two weight classes up against a longtime force at 175 lbs.
This year could’ve been the year for a trilogy with Gennadiy Golovkin, but Canelo (52-1-2, 35 KOs) seems uninterested in that matchup. He has pursued a bout with Kovalev throughout the summer and Golden Boy Promotions was finally able to deliver. For the Mexican superstar, he’s coming off a unanimous decision win over Daniel Jacobs, which briefly unified two of the four major titles at middleweight, only for Alvarez to be stripped of his IBF belt for not fighting mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko. He wasn’t “ducking” Sergiy, rather he had his eyes on bigger names, and Derevyanchenko didn’t fit the bill.
At this time last year, Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) had been dethroned as WBO champion in a shocking KO loss to Eleider Alvarez. He avenged that defeat this past February in a clear-cut decision. Against mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde, Kovalev was in serious trouble and nearly knocked out by the Englishman thanks to a barrage of body shots, which opened up those power punches upstairs. Kovalev survived the onslaught, Yarde faded, and for the most part Sergey had soundly outboxed him, ultimately knocking him out with a jab. It’s early days, but his relationship with new trainer Buddy McGirt appears to be paying off, and now he stands to make a career-high payday.
Yes, this fight is the same night as Jorge Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz. DAZN wanted this November 2nd date and they stuck to it even after Masvidal vs. Diaz was announced. There’s nothing stopping you from watching both, although it’ll be hard to watch them both live with your undivided attention.
Early betting odds have Canelo as more than a 4-to-1 favorite, even though he’s never competed at 175 lbs and Kovalev is a destructive puncher. It feels like a weird fight to make, but it is compelling enough that it should draw a big audience at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Bloody Elbow will have full fight week coverage of Canelo vs. Kovalev, including play-by-play, analysis, highlights, and much more. The DAZN main card begins at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT. Expect the main event to begin at midnight ET/9 PM PT.