On Saturday, November 2, 2019, live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, WBC Franchise/WBA and Lineal Middleweight superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (53-1-2 (36KOs) of Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico moved up two weight divisions to challenge WBO Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in a scheduled 12-round fight for Kovalev’s WBO world championship.
Alvarez dramatically stopped Kovalev in the 11th round with a crunching right-hand bomb after 10 rounds of closely contested action.
Alvarez set up the knockout blow over the course of the fight by investing in hard counter body shots to the midsection of the Russian and glancing hooks and right hands until he found the range to land with increased regularity.
Alvarez initiated the final exchange by landing a precise jab down the middle and followed it up with a right hand to the body that forced Kovalev’s entire body to tremble, followed by another right across the chin that finished the job.
Both fighters started tentatively, trying to feel the other out–posturing and feinting with Kovalev trying to establish his range by pumping his jab, while Alvarez looked for opportunities to counter, attempting a wide hook before rounds end.
Alvarez increased his output in the second, countering the long jab of Kovalev with hooks over the top and body shots up the middle to the mid section.
Through the third and fourth, Alvarez succeeded in closing the distance, inching closer and closer to Kovalev and well within range to counter, but Kovalev remained busy resetting his range with his jab and making Alvarez miss.
The middle rounds produced more of the same with Alvarez reaching to find his target (and occasionally finding it downstairs with the right hand or over the top with his left hook) as Kovalev stuck to the script and tripled up his jab and followed up with the right hand to keep him at bay.
Kovalev stayed busy with his jab, throwing the occasional right hand behind it and even going downstairs with his left hook.
Alvarez continued to land grazing shots against his opponent, working to find the proper range and catching Kovalev with straight right hands and counter hooks upstairs and down. But the narrative of the fight was being won by the bigger man who refused to allow Alvarez the opportunity to mix it up for extended periods of time.
Coming into the eighth round, Kovalev seemed in control, fighting the right fight and forcing Canelo Alvarez into a long range boxing match where he could keep him from landing the big counter shots and punish him with straight punches.
However, many of Kovalev’s blows seemed to be losing steam as the rounds progressed, with his jab in particular going from an ever-present snap, to a pawing range finder.
Alvarez on the other hand slowly went from the hunted to the hunter, controlling the center of the ring and pushing Kovalev backwards.
As Alvarez continued to step forward and become the aggressor in the final stanza of the fight, Kovalev began to give more ground to the smaller challenger and found himself on the receiving end of multiple flush punches.
Alvarez began to land his right hand with much greater regularity, while the Krusher began to show signs of not only fatigue, but anguish as he looked to tie up Alvarez immediately after any substantial punches from the red-haired Mexican.
Heading into the 11th round, Alvarez perhaps sensing the change in the momentum of the fight came out stalking Kovalev behind big power shots.
Kovalev attempted to circle away from Alvarez’s power punches and was instead greeted by a piercing jab down the middle and a quick left hook behind it that blinded the Russian to a big right hand to the midsection that visually rocked him to his core .
Kovalev attempted to back his opponent off with a quick flurry of punches, but Alvarez slipped past them to unload a sudden stinging right across the chin of Kovalev that put him down for the count.
With the big knockout, Alvarez successfully cemented another piece in his legacy as he became a four division champion and the new WBO Light Heavyweight champion of the world.
In his interview and at the post-fight press conference, Alvarez commended the strength and skill of his opponent and described the adjustments to his game plan he had to make when presented with the difficulty he faced in trying to work his way inside and force a close-range battle.
“The plan overall was patience, that was basically it – to have patience,” said Canelo. “We knew it was going to be five, six rounds and it was going to take some time for me to get him. But honestly he’s a great fighter. I’m new at this weight, new in this division. Much credit to him, he’s a great fighter, but we stuck to our game plan. It was delayed a little bit but overall it was successful.”
Alvarez made no specific plans and called no one out directly, and spoke only of his desire to continue making history in the biggest fights available to him.
“I’m very thankful,” said Canelo. “This is just a step in my career, in my history, and all I ask of you, is to be patient because Canelo will make history. That’s a guarantee.”