Since unifying most middleweight titles in his pair of great and hotly debated fights with Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) went up in weight to take a supermiddleweight title off of Rocky Fielding and defended his middleweight titles against Daniel Jacobs. He’ll go up in weight once again this week end, this time to light heavyweight where a much stiffer challenge awaits him in WBO champion Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs).
Any time a fighter jumps up two weight classes to face a legitimate top fighter is a risky move, but it is a calculated risk for Canelo. If Kovalev is still one of the best light heavyweights in the world, he’s clearly seen better days and I doubt you would find too many people willing to argue him as THE best light heavyweight around over someone like newly unified champion Artur Beterbiev.
Kovalev is still a devastating puncher, as Anthony Yarde found out when Kovalev put him down with a jab in his last fight. The jab and right straight are the cornerstones of his game, which he uses to set each other up at distance very well by varying power and targets.
We have already seen Canelo handle himself very well against a bigger orthodox boxer in Daniel Jacobs. That fight ended up being very close but most of Jacobs’ success came once he switched to southpaw, something Kovalev has never shown before and is unlikely to develop at this stage of his career.
Canelo also has very good body work and Kovalev has shown a vulnerability to body shots recently. Canelo’s excellent head movement should allow him to neutralize Kovalev’s jab and get past his reach. While Canelo is a powerful puncher himself, I don’t expect his power to carry up enough to stop Kovalev and thus I’m picking him by decision.
It remains to be seen what would be next for Canelo if he were to pick up a belt in a fourth weight division. It is doubtful that he would remain in the division to face the likes of Artur Beterbiev or Oleksandr Gvozdyk and I’d expect him to go back down at least to middleweight but I also wouldn’t have expected him to fight Kovalev at the start of 2019 so who knows?
Anyway, the biggest star in the sport going up in weight to face a champion and former pound-for-pound talent makes this the biggest fight in an excellent end of the year stretch for boxing.
In the co-main event prospect Ryan Garcia (18-0, 15 KOs) has a chance to make a name for himself on his biggest stage yet against Romero Duno (21-1, 16 KOs). On the preliminary card, UFC veteran Clay Collard (4-1-3, 1 KO) will have to show some serious MMA angles to avoid getting KO’d against 2016 Olympic silver medalist Bektemir Melikuziev (2-0, 2 KOs). Evan Holyfield, the son of the legendary Evander Holyfield, will also be making his pro debut on the card.
Canelo vs Kovalev airs on DAZN on Saturday November 2nd, with the main card starting at 9:00pm ET / 6:00pm PT and the preliminary card at 6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT. The main event will start AFTER the UFC 244 main event between Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz.
Canelo Álvarez vs. Sergey Kovalev
Ryan Garcia vs. Romero Duno
Seniesa Estrada vs. Marlen Esparza
Blair Cobbs vs. Carlos Ortiz Cervantes
Evan Holyfield vs. Nick Winstead
Meiirim Nursultanov vs. Cristian Olivas
Tristan Kalkreuth vs. Chris Minor
Bakhram Murtazaliev vs. Jorge Fortea
Bektemir Melikuziev vs Clay Collard