Story by: Chris Williams (CBoxingInfo.com)
So let’s start with the champion…. Ahh, caught you sleeping! They are BOTH champions.
So let’s begin with Saul Alvarez, 52-1-2, 35 KOs. He’s the WBA Super and WBC ‘franchise’ middleweight champion. He’s coming off of an extremely close win over Daniel Jacobs (115-113 on two official cards) that took place in May.
The first key for Saul Alvarez is to cut off the ring. He wants to get to Kovalev and when he does, he has to not only cut the ring off, but get inside, and then get off. Canelo is at a reach disadvantage. His reach is 70 ½ inches to Kovalev’s 72 ½ inches, unofficially for both. Canelo’s challenge is to get and do work once he’s in there.
Canelo must close the gap and get inside where he’ll have a huge advantage over Kovalev. He has a good jab, but not one as well as Sergey. Therefore, he must double his jab up and triple it at times, as well as throw his jab to the head and chest area to find success. Once inside, Alvarez should rough Kovalev up because Sergey doesn’t have a clue most of the time on the inside.
He should try to get Sergey to reach. By doing so, he may create counter-shot opportunities. If he can counter Sergey, it will negate Sergey’s reach and speed of his jab.
The second thing Alvarez must do is stay busy. He likes to take rounds off because he runs out of steam a bit during moments in fights. He fades and looks for breaks. When he goes through these stretches where he’s just moving and trying to get out of the way, he doesn’t throw punches.
In this fight, if Alvarez hasn’t gotten his second wind and Kovalev has, it could be a key. Alvarez is on a streak where he’s really been aggressive. He was the aggressor in the second fight with Golovkin, he spotted Khan a few rounds then started to attack, he was aggressive against Junior, and he attacked Fielding from the start and got him out of there early. Before that it was Liam Smith and James Kirkland. Had some of those fights gone further, I think Alvarez would’ve gassed.
I believe Sergey knows this, so Canelo needs to not be too aggressive early unless he feels he can score the knockout. If not, he needs to be wise with his attack. Be patient. Kovalev is 36 years old and he will give Canelo opportunities to score. He is no longer the elite fighter he was a few years ago. Canelo is in his prime. Patience with killer instinct in mind may bode well.
And speaking of attack, the third thing Alvarez needs to do is invest in body work. Hit Kovalev in the bread basket as early and often as possible. Kovalev will be on his toes and Alvarez needs to get inside to work the body and wear Krusher down. Alvarez is a superb body puncher and you will need to be effective with it in this fight. He should punch to the body when he has opportunities, including the jab down low. Finally, if all else fails, go to Plan B. Plan B is to stay outside, use his speed and elusiveness to counter and potshot his way to an unpopular victory. It’s a style that will surprise many people who think Canelo’s only shot is on the inside.
Let’s look at the other champion. Sergey Kovalev is 34-3-1, 29 KOs. He’s the WBO World light heavyweight champion. He’s coming off a thrilling win over previously undefeated Anthony Yarde in August. It was the 17th straight title fight Sergey was in.
The first key for Sergey is to box- meaning box from the outside with a little movement. Sergey has height and reach advantages. He should use them. Kovalev has a Top 3 jab in boxing and should keep his jab on Alvarez. He should double and triple it and move. Every once in a while, he should hold his ground and let a big shot go to keep Alvarez thinking. He should not get into a trade with him, but keep the fight at a distance… HIS distance.
Another reason he should keep distance and use some movement is because there have been rumors about Alvarez’s knee. The knee is alleged to be causing problems and isn’t in the best shape. Sergey should test it out and move a little bit after scoring from distance.
Sergey’s power is legitimate, and I think he’s at his best when he boxes instead of looking for immediate knockouts. He usually catches opponents on the end of his punches with length (think Tommy Hearns). Decent hand speed and power is his game. Saul Alvarez cannot cut the ring off like Gennady Golovkin. I think Sergey is faster, whereas Canelo may be quicker. Or maybe it’s vice-versa.
Secondly, Sergey should keep Canelo at the end of his punches. He needs to stay active. He should not move just to move and waste energy. He is the boss at this weight class. He should show Canelo he means business. Sergey should use his jab to set the table. It is his bread and butter. He throws it well and lands it to the head and body. It has given every opponent he’s faced trouble and as well as Canelo’s jab is, it won’t offset Kovalev’s jab.
When Sergey moves, the key is not to square up. If Alvarez begins to see Sergey’s shots coming, then he should do to him what Alvarez is going to do to Sergey… invest in the body. Sergey should try to take the gas out of him as he’s going to do to Sergey. Sergey’s IQ will carry him early, but as the fight progresses, Alvarez will see chances to strike back.
Another way to keep Canelo at the end of punches is for Sergey to throw lead right hands. He should use his second jab of his double jab to blind Canelo while throwing his big right. He should also try it from a couple different angles. Test to see how much speed Alvarez maintains while carrying additional weight. The old man should take his time in there, have fun, and mix it up.
Lastly, Kovalev needs to understand his weaknesses, follow the script, and steal rounds. Kovalev has to check his ego at the door. Yes, he fights at the bigger weight class. Yes he may be the hardest puncher Alvarez has faced. Ego says he should try to teach the kid a lesson. However, Alvarez is world class and gets better it seems with almost every fight.
Although many thought he lost both fights to Golovkin, he proved he can go 24 rounds and improve while doing so. Kovalev must also understand that while he’s the perceived bigger man, he can’t battle inside with Alvarez. He should box at distance and try to win early rounds. Steal as much as he can early on.
Sergey needs to also follow the script. After being knocked out by Eleider Alvarez, Kovalev appeared to be finished. He signed up with James “Buddy” McGirt and the results have been indescribable. For Kovalev, at 36 (let alone at any age), to get brutally stopped by Alvarez and come back to box his ears off in the very next stop is beyond words. It just doesn’t happen in boxing.
Then McGirt had him fight brilliantly against Yarde, but his moment as a trainer came after Kovalev was badly hurt after the 8th round against Yarde. The instructions between rounds allowed Kovalev to survive and eventually stop Yarde late. Not many people believed Kovalev could score a late stoppage against a young lion like Yarde before the right. Certainly less thought it would occur after what transpired in the 8th. It all happened because he listened to his corner and stuck to the script. He believes in McGirt and the relationship will have to stay strong if he’s to win.
Canelo vs. Kovalev is a 12-round fight for the WBO Light Heavyweight World Title presented by Golden Boy, Main Events and Krusher Promotions. The event is sponsored by Tecate, “THE OFFICIAL BEER OF BOXING,” Hennessy “Never Stop. Never Settle” and Brand-New Grapefruit Crush, Knockout Flavor. The event will take place Saturday, Nov. 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will be streamed live exclusively on DAZN. The title clash is one of several highlights this fight season on DAZN – an entire fall featuring boxing’s biggest matchups in one of the best schedules in boxing history. Tickets for Canelo vs. Kovalev are on sale and are priced at $1,754, $1,254, $854, $654, $404 and $204, not including applicable service charges and taxes. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call 888-9-AXS-TIX (888-929-7849). Tickets also will be available for purchase at http://www.axs.com.
For more information, visit http://www.goldenboypromotions.com, http://www.MainEvents.com and DAZN.com. Follow on Twitter @GoldenBoyBoxing, @Canelo, @Main_Events, @KrusherKovalev and @DAZN_USA. Become a fan on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GoldenBoyBoxing, http://www.facebook.com/SaulCaneloAlvarez, http://www.facebook.com/thekrusher/, http://www.facebook.com/MainEventsBoxing and http://www.facebook.com/DAZNUSA/. Follow on Instagram @GoldenBoy, @Canelo, @Main_Events, @SergeyKrusherKovalev, and @DAZN_USA. Follow the conversation using #CaneloKovalev.