Stock In Canelo Victory over Kovalev

By Jason Gonzalez: Contributor Bronx Chronicle Sports

Now that we are more than 72 hours from being removed from witnessing Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of Guadalajara, Mexico capture his fourth world title in as many divisions, we now have had some time to process what transpired. It’s hard to fathom that a man who initially campaigned at 140 pounds to commence his career, is now a champion in the light heavyweight division [175]. 

But anything is possible when you are as talented as Canelo and you the right opponent across from you.   

It took Canelo 11 rounds to dispose of Sergey Kovalev of Russia. A vicious, left-right combination knocked Kovalev out cold in their scheduled 12-round encounter. The 36-year-old Kovalev, who has tasted defeat three times before [two of which were by way of knockout] went down to his knees and fell slumped in between the ropes, prompting the referee Russell Mora to stop the fight.

While watching from the comfort of my seat at the AMC Bay Plaza 13 movie theater, The Bronx Chronicle had the fight scored 96-94 for Kovalev before the stoppage. As impressive and as unfortunate as that may sound, the scores were very misleading. Kovalev didn’t do much outside of using his jab. 

And for the duration of the contest, Kovalev’s jab was simply touching Canelo’s high guard. Kovalev’s right hand was absent, nor did he try to rough up the significantly smaller Canelo by clinching and pushing his weight on him at any point in the fight. The official judges [Julie Lederman] and [Dave Moretti] had Canelo up 96-94, while the last observer [Don Trella] had it even at 95 a piece.

With the victory, the 29-year-old Canelo improved his resume to 53-1-2, (36) while snatching the WBO light heavyweight title in the process. With all due respect to Kovalev, this was supposed to happen. The outcome was inevitable. Canelo went off at almost a 5-1 favorite on fight night. Canelo opened-up as the favorite when the fight was announced, and a lot of late money went on Canelo as well. 

The other three divisions that Canelo has won championships in were junior middleweight [154], middleweight [160], and super middleweight [168].

“The plan overall was patience,” Canelo would say to DAZN’s Chris Mannix during the post-fight interview. “That was basically it, to have patience. We knew that it was going to be five or six rounds, and that it was going to take some time for me to get him. But obviously, he’s a great fighter. But again, I’m new in this weight, I’m new in this division. And much credit to him, he’s a great fighter. But we stuck to our game plan, basically. And basically, it was delayed a little bit. But overall, it was successful.”

With the loss, Kovalev’s ledger dropped to 34-4-1, (29). Kovalev, who was clearly on the back end of his career heading into last Saturday’s showdown, demonstrated signs of these claims in his previous fight with Anthony Yarde. Kovalev had some rocky moments against Yarde. Although Kovalev may have lost to Canelo, he didn’t lose completely. Kovalev’s silver lining was that he secured a career-high payday of $12.5 million.

“It’s okay,” Kovalev said after the defeat to Mannix. “It’s a good experience for me. Canelo is really a great champion. And a little bit right now, I didn’t recover from my last fight. But it’s okay. Thanks for the fight. Canelo, big respect with him. He makes history, you know?”

Question? Just out of curiosity, how would have the shorter and much smaller Canelo done against the Kovalev that fought Andre Ward for the first time three years ago? You said it right, Canelo would have been beaten. Not to discredit Canelo’s victory over Kovalev, but Kovalev is not the puncher nor the boxer that he once was. 

Although, props are merited, fight fans can’t get too caught up with happened. Canelo wrote his name in the boxing history books, but careful matchmaking played a factor. Canelo beat a Kovalev that was a shell of what he once was.   

When Mannix asked Kovalev, where was the right hand, he replied that he was simply following the instruction of his trainer. According to Kovalev, [trainer] James “Buddy” McGirt’s advice was to jab as much as possible.

“It’s okay,” Kovalev said. “I’ll be back. I’ll be back much stronger.”

So, here is the $64,000 question. Where does Canelo go from here? He currently has 8 fights left to fulfill on his $365 million contract with DAZN. Form the outside looking in Canelo does have a lot of options of possible opponents that range from 160-175 [middleweight to light heavyweight].

In the past, Canelo has expressed that he is open to fighting anyone except Gennadiy Golovkin. Canelo and Golovkin’s first two bouts ended in a controversial draw and then a Canelo victory in the rematch. On multiple occasions, Canelo has stated that he has no desire to entertain a rubber match with Golovkin due to feeling that he has beaten him twice already. Canelo looks at it as what’s left to prove. 

Judging by Golovkin’s past performance against Sergiy Derevyanchenko, a third fight with Canelo doesn’t seem that it would be competitive. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think or say that Canelo would stop Golovkin.

Canelo will most likely return to the ring on Cinco de Mayo weekend, and on Mexican Independence Day weekend next year. There are three potential fights that Canelo should consider. These fights make a lot of sense financially, are good for the sport of boxing and will add to Canelo’s legacy. Obviously, Canelo will only fight twice in 2020. So, he is sort of picking two out of three per say.  

The three possible opponents are Demetrius Andrade, Callum Smith, and Jaime Munguia. A scrap between Canelo and the current WBO middleweight champion is an intriguing one to say the least. Plus, it is an easy one to make. Andrade of Rhode Island fights exclusively on DAZN. Has been yearning for a big fight for quite some time and has been knocking on Canelo’s door. Canelo’s never held the WBO strap at 160 either. A Canelo-Andrade contest represents the classic bull versus matador type of bout that real fight fans love. 

Smith is second on the list for a few reasons. Canelo has previously mentioned building his brand in the United Kingdom. A Canelo-Smith fight would probably take place in London, England. Smith has fought on DAZN before, therefore making it another easy fight to make. Smith brings with him an undefeated record, alongside his WBA [Super] supermiddleweight [168] title. Canelo-Smith is a very good fight. You would be hard pressed to find people that would disagree. 

Lastly, a Canelo-Munguia fight would be an explosive encounter for however long it lasts. Canelo has also discussed of the possibility of fighting in Mexico. This fight can take place at a soccer stadium in Mexico on either Cinco de Mayo or in September. Can you imagine the turn out? The numbers would be huge. 

 of fighting on DAZN, Munguia is a stablemate of Canelo at Golden Boy Promotions. Canelo-Munguia is probably the least competitive of the three prospective fights mentioned, but it is the easiest of the three fights to make. If the scuffle were to take place in Mexico, Canelo-Munguia would produce the best numbers by far in terms of viewership and ticket sales.

It’s no secret that there are some very big names at the light heavyweight division for Canelo to consider waging war with. But after how he looked in his 175-pound debut, against an old and very worn and torn fighter, it may not be in Canelo’s best interest to do so. 

WBA champion Dmitry Bivol and unified WBC/IBF champion Artur Beterbiev are at the top of the list at light heavyweight. Bivol, another DAZN fighter called out Canelo after his victory on Twitter. Bivol issued a challenge of his own via social media. With all things considered, a Canelo-Bivol matchup doesn’t seem likely at this point and time. As for Beterbiev, he could be described as bad for Canelo’s health. Beterbiev is too big and too strong for the 5’9- 160 to 165-pound Canelo. Beterbiev fights in very stalking predatorial way. The pressure that he applies would ultimately force Canelo to give in. 

Canelo is a great fighter and a future hall-of-famer. So, there is no shame in him not being able to hang with the “top dawgs” of the division. They are much bigger than him. What would be the point of him staying there? 

Canelo should come back down to either 160 or 168. Please leave the light heavyweight division alone. He is essentially biting more off than he can chew.