On Saturday, November 2, 2019, live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Mexican superstar Saul Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) will move up two weight classes to 175 pounds to take on WBO champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs).
The bout presents an interesting matchup as the natural counterpuncher Canelo meets the tactically aggressive Kovalev.
Alvarez aims to join his esteemed countrymen Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Jorge Arce in becoming the fourth Mexican to hold world titles in four divisions as well as the first fighter since Henry Armstrong to simultaneously hold world titles in three weight divisions.
Despite being the smaller man walking into the proverbial lions den in stepping up to challenge Kovalev with various physical disadvantages (size,height,weight and reach), Alvarez remains the favorite.
But make no mistake about it, Kovalev remains dangerous, having nothing to lose and everything to gain.
1.Negate the Jab and Close the Distance
At his very best, Sergy Kovalev is a well-seasoned boxer puncher with a vaunted right hand. But as most can attest (especially his last opponent Anthony Yarde), his most effective punch is the jab.
It remains Kovalev’s most effective weapon which he uses to set traps and pick apart his opponents (and even as a power punch) apart before closing the show with a right hand bomb.
In order to win this fight, Canelo Alvarez must negate the jab of Kovalev by closing distance with his own double jab and forcing an inside confrontation.
Once Inside Alvarez can outwork and break down the larger Kovalev with his superior hand speed, body shots, and combination counterpunching.
2. Earn Respect Early to Set the Pace and Keep Kovalev Tentative.
Canelo Alvarez must make Sergey Kovalev respect his power through precise volume counterpunching, he must make Kovalev pay for his mistakes and keep him tentative.
Being peppered consistently with hard counter power shots that he is not expecting will force the bigger man to keep his hands at home and stay on the defensive.
Forcing Kovalev to overthink his output out of fear of being tagged will not only allow Canelo’s counterpunching opportunities to flourish, but allow Alvarez to control the tempo of the bout.
Kovalev, like most punchers, has been known to gas out in the later rounds.
Controlling the pace and tempo will allow Canelo to force the fight at his leisure, which could lead to Kovalev tiring out even quicker, providing the moment for Alvarez to end the fight early with a well-timed blow.
3. Be the Aggressor and Remain Defensively Aware
Canelo Alvarez must establish himself as the aggressor and back Sergey Kovalev up. He must use his advantages in hand speed and counterpunching to make Kovalev think twice about coming forward and walking him down.
Alvarez should take a page from the book of Andre Ward and look to take the fight to close quarters, where Kovalev is uncomfortable. Once there he can avoid being caught at the end of Kovalevs power shots and invest in double hooks to the head and body and take control of exchanges with his hand speed and combination punching.
He must remain the aggressor throughout and cannot afford to take breaks. Canelo will have to avoid unnecessary exchanges with the stronger Kovalev through tight head and waist movement.
Alvarez has shown exceptional defense along the ropes in the past, but against Kovalev he should look to avoid having his back to the ropes and keep the fight in the center of the ring, change angles up close and turning his opponent to reset his offense.
Alvarez has shown lapses in stamina at points in the past and can take breaks in the later rounds. Against Kovalev, Alvarez cannot afford to allow a window for the larger man to find a sitting target and rally to let his hands go in desperation.