By: Hans Themistode
The entire world of boxing is patiently waiting the Light Heavyweight showdown between WBO belt holder Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) and current Middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs). It is arguably the biggest fight of the year. The contest will be taking place on November 2nd, at the MGM arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This will certainly be a great fight, but something just doesn’t make any sense. The consensus around this fight is that Kovalev doesn’t have a chance. Sure, there are a few who believe the Russian born fighter has what it takes to pull off the upset but many aren’t expecting it. Why is that?
Well, Kovalev is 36 years of age compared to just 29 for Canelo. He also has been in his fair share of wars recently. Canelo might have more fights under his belt but there is no doubt that Kovalev has been in the more grueling matchups throughout his career. The Light Heavyweight champion’s inability to fight on the inside while also being soft to the body is viewed as a detriment in this contest.
Let’s also be honest. Kovalev isn’t the fighter he once was. His former trainer, John David Jackson views this as Kovalev’s “cashing out” fight. Meaning once he loses he’ll take the career high payday and fade away from the sport of boxing. These words that have been echoed by Jackson have been spewed by others, but just how true are they? Is the WBO Light Heavyweight champions chances of winning as microscopic as they are making it seem?
Kovalev has spent his entire ten year career at the Light Heavyweight division so of course he will be the naturally bigger man in this contest. He also won’t be intimidated by the moment. Canelo Alvarez is by far the biggest name in the sport of boxing today. Dealing with his skill inside the ring can be a difficult task but simply dealing with the occasion can be an arduous one as well.
Unlike many of Canelo’s opponents, Kovalev has been involved in plenty of big fights. Back to back fights against former champion Jean Pascal in his hometown of Montreal saw Kovalev come out victorious via stoppage both times. He also managed to beat future hall of famer Bernard Hopkins decisively when they matched up in 2014.
Of course Kovalev is most known for his consecutive defeats at the hands of all-time great fighter Andre Ward. Speaking of those losses to Ward, they were both highly controversial. In their first matchup Kovalev scored a second round knockdown and seemed to outbox Ward throughout the duration of the contest. Unfortunately for Kovalev, he wasn’t given the decision.
The second matchup once again saw Kovalev out boxing Ward until he was stopped due to body punches. In all fairness to Kovalev it seemed like an unfair stoppage as Ward’s punches appeared to be low. Still, the loss isn’t the important part, it was the occasion. Kovalev fought the best fighter at the moment and was not overwhelmed.
For those who are saying Kovalev hasn’t been the same since those losses might want to rethink that notion.
In 2018, Kovalev was brutally knocked out against Eleider Alvarez. Six months later, Kovalev won the immediate rematch. How about his last contest? He faced a much younger and fresher fighter in Anthony Yarde. It was ostensible that Kovalev was dominating the contest. In round eight however, Kovalev was badly hurt. He some how found a way to make it out of the round and subsequently stopped Yarde in the eleventh.
So what does all of this mean? That’s simple. Kovalev isn’t coming into this contest to collect a check and lay down.
“I don’t get in the ring to lose,” said Kovalev. “Why come to the ring if you are going to lose? My mental is not ready for this.”
Doubt Kovalev if you want but he has shown time and time again that he can and will raise his game to the highest levels.