By: Hans Themistode
Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) is on his way to making history. He will look to win another world title in his fourth weight division when he moves up 15 pounds to challenge WBO Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs).
It’s a big risk for Canelo, but a calculated one. Kovalev was once considered the boogeyman of the division. He didn’t just beat whomever was placed in front, he knocked them out. His cloak of invincibility has since been removed thanks to Andre Ward in back to back victories. The latter resulting in a stoppage win.
Photo Credit: Golden Boy Promotions Twitter Account
Still, Kovalev is a dangerous opponent for anyone.
Canelo is a fast, slick and powerful boxer. His foray into the Light Heavyweight division is an unexpected one, but it is a choice that many believe he can do successfully.
If you have taken a close look at Canelo lately, you will notice that he looks considerably bigger than normal. With the Mexican born super star needing to make up the weight difference between himself and his adversary this Saturday night, he has decided to bulk up to help in his efforts.
“I will be on weight at 175 pounds. That’s what I’m going to weigh, 175 pounds. God willing, that’s what we’re working on,” said Canelo. “I’m lifting more weights. I hadn’t lifted that much previously. A lot of reps but not that much weight. So I’m lifting more weights, eating more carbs, eating protein.”
The move to put on more mass seems like a logical one. Canelo will already be at a disadvantage in terms of height and reach. If he can come in around at least the same weight as Kovalev on fight night, than that could negate some of the advantages the Light Heavyweight champion will already possess.
Although it does make sense, count the former consensus pound for pound best fighter in the world, and two time Sergey Kovalev conqueror Andre Ward amongst those who believes that Canelo is making a mistake in adding so much mass.
“If I had to choose, I’m going to go with Canelo late, or by a decision,” said Ward when asked to give his prediction on the fight. “But here’s the thing about Canelo: I’m hearing a lot about Canelo bulking and building. That’s the wrong thing to do. He’s gassing at his regular weight. So, I made that mistake in my first fight with Kovalev.”
The words of Ward does have a considerable amount of merit to them. Not only was he able to look better than he did in his first encounter with Kovalev the second time around, but he was also able to stop the one time unified champion when they met that aforementioned rematch.
“Putting on too much mass, and making the mistake of thinking I had to look the part instead of being myself. In the second fight, I went back to my roots, and said I’m going to look the way I look, and my weight is going to fall where it’s going to fall. And I was a lot faster and a lot stronger, and I got my spring back.”
Although Ward does lean towards Canelo to pull off the victory, he does seem to go back and forth as he can see both sides having plenty of success.
“I think Canelo is making a mistake. He looks real wide, and he’s already a thick dude and he’s looking real wide. I don’t think that’s a good idea. So if he comes in there looking like that, then he’s probably going to get hit more than he normally does. I’m giving you a lot of back and forth, but that’s how it’s playing out in my head. There’s a lot of things that can happen. One minute I can see Canelo late, and then the next minute I can see Canelo fading and Kovalev doing better than you thought he was going to do down the stretch,”
Echoing the sentiments of Ward is the current trainer and father of former two division world champion Danny Garcia, Angel.
“He’s looking a little sluggish with too much muscle. You’re talking 178, but these guys come in at 190 and 195,” said Angel. “They’re like heavyweights. Those are big guys. What is he going to come at? 190 at his height? Remember, he’s going to weigh in at 178. He’s going to eat that night, recover, and he’s going to be at 190, bro. For his size, will he be able to handle that weight? Pushing that weight around.”
For Angel, it isn’t just a matter of Canelo putting on too much weight, but he is also concerned with the toll this sort of fight could take on Canelo’s life after boxing.
“I like Canelo, and like him as a fighter, I don’t know what they’re trying to do to him. Is he going to have a life after this? Kovalev is a big guy. He’s comfortable there. I’m not saying Canelo can’t be comfortable. I’m just saying, why? He’s got all the belts. Why does he need more belts? Is it going to make him better? How about your mind and your brain?”
Both Ward and Angel make valid points. Will Canelo have the same spring in his step that he normally does? And will he be able to withstand the sort of punishment that is certainly heading his way Saturday night?
Canelo Alvarez is the favorite to get his hand raised come fight night and for good reason, but will that victory come with a heavy price?