On Saturday night, unified Middleweight world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) will jump up two weight classes and look to secure a title in a fourth weight division, as he’s scheduled to challenge WBO Light Heavyweight titlist Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs).
The bout will take place from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada and stream live on DAZN.
Alvarez, boxing’s biggest star, will be taking on quite a challenge in this bout, as he’s never competed at 175 pounds before this.
Holding a 52-1-2 professional record at just 29 years old, he made a name for himself competing at 154 pounds where he beat notable names like Shane Mosley, Joseito Lopez, Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara.
Canelo eventually moved up to the Middleweight limit of 160 pounds where he was first crowned champion after scoring a decision victory over Miguel Cotto in 2015.
The cinnamon-haired Mexican then went on to twice compete against Gennadiy Golovkin in a pair of instant classics. The first fight, which took place in September 2017, ended in a highly controversial split-draw that many felt Golovkin had deserved to win.
The rematch then took place one year later and while some once again felt as if “GGG” deserved the nod, it was a much closer bout that Alvarez ultimately won via majority decision. With the victory, Canelo became a unified Middleweight titleholder.
Most recently, Alvarez began his partnership with DAZN by moving up to Super Middleweight to quickly finish an overmatched Rocky Fielding last December before dropping back down to Middleweight and defending his titles against the always game Daniel Jacobs.
Stylistically, the Mexican, who’s widely considered to be amongst the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, is quite a versatile fighter, as he can both and box and punch given his speed and athleticism along with his power.
In addition, Canelo has shown, specifically in the fights against Golovkin, that he can both counterpunch or pressure opponents. He’s also become known for his vicious body attack, which will likely be a part of his game plan in this bout.
Defensively, it’s important to note that Canelo has typically implemented high-level head movement, while also often showing an iron chin.
Moving onto to Kovalev, the 36-year-old defending champion is a natural Light Heavyweight who has spent his career competing at 175 pounds. To date, he’s amassed a professional record of 34-3-1 with 29 of those victories coming by way of T/KO.
Known as the “Krusher”, Kovalev began to rise to prominence around 2013 when he first won the WBO Light Heavyweight strap with a fourth-round stoppage victory over Nathan Cleverly.
In the years following that bout, the Russian picked up victories over notable names like Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal, which set him up with a mega-fight with all-time great Andre Ward, who was moving up from Super Middleweight.
In the first fight between the two in 2016, Kovalev dropped Ward early on but ended up losing a unanimous decision. Then in the rematch, Ward actually finished him with a brutal body attack that followed a huge right hand, though some have argued that Ward’s shots were low.
Since the consecutive losses to Ward, Kovalev has gone 4-1 and he avenged the only loss in that stretch when he beat Eleider Alvarez in their rematch this past February. Most recently, Krusher battled back after being hit with some big shots to finish Anthony Yarde in August.
Stylistically, there’s no question that Kovalev is a bit passed his prime. He’s simply not the same fighter he was just a few years ago.
With that being said, however, he remains a high-level fighter, with his best weapon likely being his stinging jab, who can both box and punch while possessing tremendous power. What’s important to note though is that some have questioned his defense, specifically to body attacks.
In terms of how this fight will play out, it’s a bit difficult to predict. On one hand, it’s likely true that Kovalev will be the most physically imposing fighter that Canelo has faced.
Kovalev will also be the larger fighter, as he stands 6’0” with a 72.5” reach, which will give him an advantage in both of those categories over Canelo.
On the other hand, it’s also true that Kovalev has deteriorated a bit. I’d argue that Canelo is the more skilled and more well-rounded fighter at this point. He’s also the faster fighter and his vicious body attack could very well prove to be a problem for Kovalev.
Ultimately, I expect this to be a close fight, especially early on. In the end, however, I think Canelo’s speed, body attack, and game plan will be enough to overcome the Russian.
I’m not sure we’ll see a finish but expect Canelo to win a belt in yet another weight class.