By Mark Elezaj
LAS VEGAS – Canelo Alvarez, who moved up two weight classes to fight Sergey Kovalev, continued to make history on Saturday night, although this time it was much tougher.
The fight was delayed for more than an hour while waiting for the conclusion of UFC 244 in New York, which was being shown inside the arena on the big screens.
Once the fighters finally entered the ring, it was business as usual for both men.
Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) won the WBO light heavyweight championship, becoming a world champion in his fourth weight class, by knocking Kovalev out in the eleventh round with a perfectly placed straight right hand.
“The plan overall was patience,” Alvarez told Chris Mannix in the ring after the fight.
“That was basically it, to have patience. We knew that it was gonna be five or six rounds, and that it was gonna take some time for me to get him. But obviously, he’s a great fighter. But again, I’m new in this weight, I’m new in this division. And much credit to him – he’s a great fighter. But we stuck to our game plan, basically. And basically, it was delayed a little bit. But overall, it was successful.”
From the opening bell, Alvarez, seemed to have a hard time dealing with Kovalev’s size and jab. As the fight went on, Kovalev seemed to control the action but was showing signs of being tired, even saying he was fatigued in the middle rounds.
“I was tired after Round 6 because I had my last fight very close to this one,” said Kovalev.
“But it’s OK. It’s a new experience for me. Canelo is really a great champion. I didn’t recover from my last fight. But it’s OK. Thanks for the fight, Canelo. I have big respect for him. He made history.”
Although he seemed tired, Kovalev continued to have success, working off of his jab. In the ninth round, he landed a beautiful 1-2 punch that got Canelo’s attention.
Kovalev continued to control the 10th round working off of his jab. Although Canelo was able to land hard shots throughout the fight, Kovalev continued to work off of the jab, keeping Canelo away. It seemed as if Alvarez has no response.
In the 11th round, Canelo landed a beautiful left hook around Kovalev’s guard and staggered him. Canelo followed with a perfectly placed right hand.
Kovalev collapsed to the canvas, and the referee didn’t even bother to count. It was not necessary, Kovalev was out cold.
At the time of stoppage, two judges at ringside had Canelo ahead 96-94 while a third judge had it 95-95.
The Fighting Voice had it 96-94 for Kovalev at the time of the stoppage.
“I’m very thankful,” Alvarez said.
“This is just a step in my career, in my history, and all I ask of you is to be patient because Canelo will make history. That’s a guarantee.”
With this victory, Alvarez became the third junior middleweight titleholder to also win a belt at light heavyweight, joining the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Mike McCallum.
“It was a very close fight because he was defensive, he was closing up his guard. All he was doing was try to establish points, but we knew what was coming. Inevitably it would come, and everything came out the way we had planned.”
After the fight, Kovalev said he plans to continue with his career.
“I’ll be back. I’ll be back much stronger,” Kovalev said.
“I know that I can be a unified champion. Nobody wants to fight me in my division. This guy (Alvarez) is more fresh. He came into my division more fresh. He has more stamina, but it’s OK. It’s a good experience for me.”
So what’s next for Canelo Alvarez, who owns titles at light heavyweight and middleweight, and a secondary title at super middleweight?
“(After this) the plan was to go down to 160, 165, but why not — maybe 175 again,” he said. “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.”
Of course, the question about the possibility of third match with Golovkin was asked.
“It’s really not a challenge to me. We’ve fought 24 rounds and I beat him,” Alvarez said. “It’s really not a challenge for me, but if it represents business, why not?”
Whatever is next, rest assured we will be watching!
~ The Fighting Voice ~