On Nov. 2, at the Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, unified middleweight Canelo Alverez put his career on the line against light heavyweight WBO champion Sergey Kovalev. Tackling two divisions above his usual weight class, Canelo’s undeniable speed, technicality, and endurance led to Kovalev eventually hitting the canvas; or in this case, falling through the ropes. Creating history, Canelo has become the only active boxer to hold world titles in three divisions on top of being the fourth Mexican boxer to achieve titles in four different divisions.
Leading up to the fight, the weigh-in made some fans worried about the two boxers. Moving up two weight classes, Canelo weighed in at around 174.5 pounds, almost 15 over his ordinary weight. Initially overweight for the class, Kovalev weighed in at 175.25 pounds. As a result, Kovalev had only an hour to cut down on weight or else his belt would be stripped from him and the fight would be canceled. After a short bathroom break from Kovalev, he re-stepped onto the scale and was ruled as good to go at 175 pounds.
Despite Canelo’s new weight, he stated that it did not affect him: “I feel very well, I feel very strong,” he said through an interpreter after stepping off the scale. “We will see at the fight how my body really is, but I believe in my physical strength and my physical capabilities.”
Going into the fight, Kovalev had a 72 1/2 inch reach advantage over Canelo’s 70 1/2 inch reach.
As the crowd erupted with excitement to kick off the match, Canelo displayed what essentially gave him the title of unified: his powerful speed. While Kovalev was throwing power punches to give Canelo a taste of the light heavyweight class, Canelo grazed pass many of the strikes and answered back quickly, stunning Kovalev in the process. Although Canelo took the first three rounds on the judge’s scorecards, Kovalev stood his ground and utilized his longer reach to jab at the middleweight champion for the next three rounds. Seeming to be a newly found issue for the unified middleweight, Canelo missed a plentiful amount of head-targeted jabs in the early rounds, which was most likely due to Kovalev’s taller stature. Furthermore, Canelo had to play the role of a counter puncher to have a chance against Kovalev’s reach.
Going according to Canelo’s plan, Kovalev, as a result of strenuous missed jabs, opened himself up to too many body strikes which would inevitably cause him to lean down and expose his head. Seeing an opportunity in front of him, Canelo did not hesitate to take advantage and land some scary hooks to Kovalev’s head. Then, when Kovalev leaned up as a response to the possible knockout blows to the head, he was met with a flurry of body punches, especially to the left side of his abdomen. Throughout the fight, the blows to his body would eventually catch up to Kovalev to about the 11th round where the most electrifying moment of the night occurred: a TKO.
Leaving the crowd in awe, Canelo connected an explosive left hook to Kovalev’s ear after a rib breaking right-hook to his body, leaving Kovalev staggering. Canelo then sent the once WBO light heavyweight champion through the ropes with a vicious right hook to the head, ending the fight as a TKO.
Upon the conclusion of the fight, Ryan Garcia—a popular upcoming boxer who views Canelo as a mentor—cheered with Canelo.
“The plan overall was patience, that was basically it—to have patience,” Alvarez said. “We knew it was going to be five, six rounds and it was going to take some time for me to get him. But honestly, he’s a great fighter. I’m new at this weight, new in this division. Much credit to him, he’s a great fighter, but we stuck to our game plan. It was delayed a little bit but overall it was successful.”
In addition to the Super Middleweight title Canelo earned a year ago, Canelo has now added a Light Heavyweight title to his record of 53-1-2 and 36 KOs.