LAS VEGAS, Nevada, November 2, 2019 – Patience paid off for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on Saturday in Las Vegas.
After a lengthy delay waiting on the conclusion of a UFC fight in New York, and after boxing smart for 11 rounds, Alvarez delivered an impressive one-two knockout of Sergey Kovalev, first wobbling him with a left hook, then tossing him to the ground with a right to the head, ending their championship fight in stunning, spectacular fashion at 2:15 of Round 11.
Alvarez (53-1-2, 35 KOs), age 29, becomes only the second light heavyweight champion from Mexico, and just the fourth to win titles in four divisions. Even against an age-diminished version of Kovalev who was performing extremely well and was close on the scorecards, Alvarez successfully navigated around a veteran with plenty of tricks left up his sleeve in Kovalev. The Russian was behind one round on two cards and two rounds on the third card, but still performed well up to the moment of the knockout. It’s not hard to understand Alvarez deriving great satisfaction out of the fight, more than a third fight with his nemesis, Gennadiy Golovkin.
“I’m very thankful to everyone. This is just a step in my career, in my history. All I ask of you is to be patient. Canelo will make history. That is my guarantee,” said Alvarez after the fight.
“The plan was patience, to have patience. We knew there would be five or six rounds and time to get him. I’m new in this weight, I’m new in this division. Credit to him, he delayed me a little bit,” said Alvarez.
“It was a very close fight because he was defensive, he was closing up his guard. All he was doing was trying to establish points, but we knew what was coming. Inevitably it would come, and everything came out the way we had planned,” explained Alvarez.
Alvarez: ‘The plan was patience’
“The plan overall was patience, that was basically it – to have patience. 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.”
Kovalev worked with determination behind his jab, and through the first third of the fight landed double the punches of Alvarez, though Alvarez was far more economical. Alvarez showed no concern, showing Kovalev plenty of respect early, content to strike within limits while sizing Kovalev up.
By the sixth round, Alvarez was edging ever closer, his superior speed and defensive movement giving him the confidence to test a closer range safely. For the first time, Alvarez began whipping left hooks to the body, though none were a stand-alone game changer. But it gave Kovalev something to think about. Still, neither deviated from his game plan. It was a solid tactical approach. More than anything, it resembled the one loss dealt to Alvarez in 2013 by Floyd Mayweather. Taking the fight against Mayweather has paid off in many ways for Alvarez through the lessons learned.
Kovalev resigned and respectful in defeat
Kovalev needed several minutes to recover after the knockout. “I was tired after round six, because I had my last fight very close to this one, but it’s okay, it’s a new experience for me,” said Kovalev. “Canelo is really a great champion. A little bit right now, I didn’t recover from my last fight. But it’s okay. Thanks for the fight Canelo, I have big respect for him. He made history.”
What would Kovalev have done differently in retrospect? “To open my body less, I had to use more jabs, (play it) more safe,” per instructions from his trainer, Buddy McGirt. But Kovalev vowed it’s not the end of the road for him. “I’ll be back. I’ll be back much stronger. I know that I can be a unified champion, let’s make a unification fight. But nobody wants to fight me in my division.”
After the fight, Main Events promoter Kathy Duva reported she and manager Egis Klimas insisted Kovalev be examined at a Las Vegas area hospital in an abundance of caution. Duva said Kovalev is determined to continue boxing.
Future plans for Alvarez don’t include Golovkin – right now
Will Alvarez stick around at light heavyweight? He said the original plan was to drop back to middleweight or super middleweight after Saturday’s bout. But he held out the option to take another fight at 175 pounds.
“We have to see what happens. We have to do what’s best for us. We have to look for the best fights, the big fights, but obviously give the victories to Mexico,” said Alvarez, also recognizing the Day of the Dead and honoring departed family and friends to great applause from the Mexican and Mexican-American fans among the 14,490 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The inevitable question about the prospect of a third fight with Gennadiy Golovkin had to be asked, and answered. “I mentioned it before, he’s really not a challenge for me. We fought 24 rounds. But if it represents business, why not?” said Alvarez.
Saturday’s results are not likely to change the minds of those who are Canelo fans, nor those who are Canelo haters. But it is undeniable by any measure that Alvarez is determined to continue creating a legacy that one day will speak louder than any single fight in the ring.
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