Last week in an unprecedented move, it was announced that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) would be going up two weight classes to challenge current WBO Light Heavyweight champion, Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs).
Alvarez is the current lineal Middleweight champion and holds the WBA Middleweight title.
A victory for Alvarez would make him just the fourth world champion from Mexico to win titles in four weight classes, joining the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales and Jorge Arce.
Much to the delight of all boxing fans, the bout with Kovalev will be fought at the Light Heavyweight limit of 175 pounds–with no catch weight put in place.
The 175-pound weight limit will be the highest weight Alvarez will have fought at in his career thus far with only two fights above Middleweight.
In May 2017, Alvarez faced off against Mexican rival Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at a catch weight of 164.5 pounds, winning almost every round in a one-sided affair.
This past December, making his Super Middleweight debut, Alvarez challenged the United Kingdom’s Rocky Fielding for a version of the WBA Super Middleweight title.
Alvarez dominated Fielding, putting on a brutal display of body punching and stopping the British fighter in the third round at Madison Square Garden.
Alvarez is known as the premier body puncher currently in the sport of boxing, and for this reason, many fans and pundits have already placed him as the favorite against Kovalev.
Kovalev’s controversial bouts with Andre Ward in 2016 and 2017 have left observers with the impression that the Russian power puncher isn’t durable with an evident weakness in taking punches to the body.
The second fight with Ward in 2017 saw Kovalev hurt several times to the body and ultimately stopped in the eighth round. Although it must be stated that many of the punches landed on Kovalev were below the waistline.
Following his losses to Ward, Kovalev rebounded and won the WBO Light Heavyweight title against Vyacheslav Shabranskyy.
After making one successful title defense, Kovalev faced off against Eleider Alvarez.
The Colombian Alvarez surprisingly stopped Kovalev in seven rounds, dropping him three times in the process.
The fight with Eleider Alvarez left many with the impression that Kovalev was damaged goods and no longer the fighter he once was in his prime.
However, Kovalev did not allow the public perception of him to deter him as he came back to win a wide unanimous decision over Alvarez to win back the WBO Light Heavyweight title.
The victory made him just the third fighter to win a Light Heavyweight title three times, joining Chad Dawson and Bernard Hopkins.
In Kovalev’s previous bout he stopped undefeated Light Heavyweight prospect Anthony Yarde in 11 rounds in his home country of Russia.
For Kovalev, a fight with Canelo Alvarez is an opportunity to secure a financial future for his family.
A fight with Kovalev for Canelo is another opportunity to further cement himself as one of the greatest fighters from Mexico.
An anticipated third fight with Gennadiy Golovkin has been tabled for the time being.
There have been plenty of elite Middleweight champions in the past who have moved up in weight to take on fighters at Light Heavyweight.
In the 1980s, Thomas Hearns became the first fighter in boxing history to win titles in four and five weight classes.
In early 1987, Hearns moved up to the Light Heavyweight division from Super Welterweight to defeat Dennis Andries by 10th-round technical knockout to win the WBC Light Heavyweight championship.
The man known as “The Hitman,” would continue to move up and down the scale for the rest of his career, fighting at Middleweight and Super Welterweight, respectively.
However, Hearns’ last significant victory came against Virgil Hill in 1991 to win the WBA Light Heavyweight title.
In the following years in the 1990s and 2000s, fighters such as James Toney, Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins made a move from Middleweight to Light Heavyweight with great success in the case of Hopkins and Jones Jr.
Hopkins, who is a partner with Alvarez’s promoter Golden Boy, may have a vested interest in seeing the fighter he promotes defeat a man who soundly defeated him in Kovalev.
While many in the boxing world see an easy task in front of Alvarez in facing Kovalev, the Russian power puncher has one of the best jabs in the sport.
In Alvarez’s two bouts with Golovkin, the Kazakh’s jab may have been the most effective weapon in those fights.
Kovalev, standing at an even six feet with a reach advantage, can utilize his jab with varying success to offset attempts from Alvarez mitigating a planned body attack.
While the other champions at Light Heavyweight such as Dmitry Bivol and Oleksandr Gvozdyk have less wear and tear than Kovalev, they do not have the resume or experience of Kovalev.
Alvarez should be given credit whether he succeeds or fails against Kovalev. At this stage of his career, Alvarez’s fights are more than just about legacy–they are events.
A victory for Alvarez will be no easy task against Kovalev.
Canelo-Kovalev will stream live on the DAZN streaming app on November 2, 2019 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.