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Canelo Alvarez vs Kovalev: Why Russian is the BEST choice for Team Canelo

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Canelo Alvarez will seek to earn a world title in a 4th weight class when he faces IBF Light Heavyweight Champion Sergey Kovalev in November.

Canelo's team will insist Kovalev was chosen because Sergey is rated by most as the best in the division and is, undoubtedly, the most accomplished and most popular champion from super middleweight to cruiserweight.

But the fact remains, Kovalev, stylistically, is considered by Team Alvarez as the easiest champion to topple, from middleweight to light heavyweight.

He's a bit methodical, doesn't boast blazing hand speed, won't be hard to find in the ring, has shown susceptibility to body shots and has been knocked out twice.

canelo new250x425 47 1556604430Canelo Alvarez

52-1-2, 35 KO
RING Magazine / WBA/WBA Middleweight Champion
Age: 29
Height: 173cm/5'8"
Reach: 179cm/70"
Stance: Orthodox

Canelo could use his middleweight speed to outbox Kovalev and his power to keep the Russian at bay or knockout him out. Conversely, Sergey could go the same to Canelo.

And let's not forget, Kovalev is 36, has a lot of wear and tear from extensive amateur and pro careers and have many believing he's seen better days.

But yes, he is still the highest rated, most revered world champion from super middleweight to cruiserweight.

And let's also keep Canelo's mammoth contract with DAZN in mind. Alvarez, in his first bout with his new network, was given a showcase against Rocky Fielding. Going forward, DAZN will require him to face legitimately elite opponents. After all, they are paying him upwards of $30 Million per fight.

... And even better for DAZN if it's an opponent who'll stand his ground and engage Alvarez in a fan-friendly affair.

gggmain 49 1557464860

Gennady Golovkin
39-1-1, 35 KO
Division: Middleweight
Age: 37
Height: 179cm / 5'10"
Reach: 178cm / 70"
Stance: Orthodox

Although no longer, officially, a middleweight champion, many consider GGG the 'People's Champion' in that division. Sure, Canelo defeated Golovkin in their rematch last year but the verdict was controversial. And while their first bout in 2017 was ruled a draw, an overwhelming majority of fans believed Golovkin earned a clear victory.

Canelo vs GGG 3 would be huge and there's no reason not to make the fight unless unless one camp believes there's a better risk vs reward option for its fighter.

And at this moment, Team Canelo would rather vault two divisions to light heavyweight than to challenge Golovkin again at middleweight.

GGG is an aggressive and monstrous puncher who is durable and well-defended, technically awesome, and boasts an impeccable sense of range and timing and a high ring IQ to boot.

What are the odds of Canelo, or anyone south of cruiserweight, winning back-to-back decisions against this guy? If you manage or promote Canelo and DAZN is proposing Canelo vs GGG 3, you're going to ask yourself, "Can we get away with facing someone else for now?"

I had Canelo Alvarez narrowly winning the rematch but have Gennady winning most of the 24 rounds they've fought. And let's not forget, we know based on Round 10 of their return affair that Golovkin can hurt Canelo, but have yet to see Canelo hurt Gennady Golovkin.

Canelo Alvarez and Co think Kovalev, although bigger and rangier than GGG, is slower, less defensive and more susceptible to a body attack from a quicker, well-skilled opponent like Canelo who is a sharp puncher and adept in finding opportunities to land power shots.

So, why isn't Canelo facing undefeated WBO Middleweight Champion Demetrius Andrade?

200px DemetriusAndrade1 64 1550438270

Demetrius Andrade
28-0, 17 KO
WBO Middleweight Champion
age: 31
height 6'1" / 185cm
reach 73½? / 187cm

Answer: Andrade is not only a rangy southpaw, he's a slick fighter who moves very well. Erislandy Lara anyone?

In 2014, Canelo struggled against the Cuban who is also a technical, rangy shouthpaw who won't engage unless he thinks he has an opponent hurt. Even Alvarez's most recent opponent, righty Daniel Jacobs, wasn't an easy puzzle to solve despite standing and trading on some occasions.

Simply put, the slippery Andrade would be hard to find for any middleweight. And should Andrade be successful in making it a technical affair, Alvarez is not going to outbox Andrade. And should Canelo win based on aggression and hard punching, he probably won't look good in the process.

200px DmitryBivol 65 1551088024

Dmitry Bivol
16-0, 11 KO
WBA Light Heavyweight Champion
age: 28
height: 6'0" / 183cm
reach: 181-184??

A slick and dangerous technical boxer, the WBA Light Heavyweight Champion might pose the greatest stylististic threat to Canelo in that division. Not only is he naturally bigger, he boasts fast hands and feet and can move around the ring well. Quick and explosive, he still likes to sit on his shots and can punch with devastating effect.

Of note, Bivol could, conceivably, outbrawl and outbox Canelo.

200px Artur Beterbiev21 26 1550516486

Artur Beterbiev
14-0, 14 KO
IBF Light Heavyweight Champion
age: 34
height 5' 11½" / 182cm
reach 73"/ 185cm

Russia's IBF Light Heavyweight Champion, Artur Beterbiev, is not as rangy as some of the other fighters on this list. And Unlike Andrade and Bivol, he wouldn't be hard for Canelo to find. No problem there.

But, Beterbiev boasts a 100 percent KO ratio and his punching power is scary. In fact, he might be the hardest punching light heavyweight champion in history.

Moreover, aside from being naturally larger than Canelo, he's technically brilliant, makes few mistakes and, thus far, seems to have an iron chin.

Yes, he has skills and even defeated Kovalev twice as an amateur. Moreover, he's aggressive and hungry and, in my opinion, the most underrated champion today. Beterbiev would be a poor choice for Canelo's light heavyweight debut.

Oleksandr Gvozdyk 90 1555706135

Oleksandr Gvozdyk
17-0, 13 KO
WBC Light Heavyweight Champion
Height: 6'2" / 188cm
Reach 75½" / 192cm

The current WBC Light Heavyweight Champion nearly killed Adonis Stevenson in the ring last year. Say what you will about the latter being 40, he was a big, strong natural light heavyweight on an eight year, 16 fight no-loss streak.

At 6'2", Gvozdyk is the entire package. He's a 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist who is well-schooled and can punch. And at 32, he might very well be in his prime. Couple Gvozdyk's tools with his 6" height and 5½? reach advantage over Alvarez and Canelo vs Gvozdyk wouldn't be a great idea at the moment.

What about Canelo vs a super middleweight champion?

Alvarez's already has already won a super middleweight world title by blasting the division's then WBA regular Champion, Rocky Fielding, in three last December. Nevertheless, stylistically, this division's top champions would seemingly be riskier than Kovalev, too.

200px CallumMundoSmith 51 1550609912

Callum Smith
WBA Light Heavyweight Champion
Age: 29
Height: 191cm/6'3"
Reach: 198cm/78"
Stance: Orthodox

The 6'3" Callum Smith would tower over Alvarez and boast and 8 inch adavnatage in reach. Not to mention, Smith is arguably one of the 10 top fighters in boxing, pound for pound.

This guy is a monster who, in addition to freakish size for the division, brings the entire package, including solid power, decent speed, and a strong amateur pedigree.

He'd be too big and too skilled for Canelo to outbox over 12 rounds.

200px Billy Joe Saunders 89 1550609865

Billy Joe Saunders
WBO Super Middleweight Champion
Age:  30
Height:  180cm/5'11" 
Stance:  Southpaw 

At 5'11, the newly crown WBO Super Middleweight Champion would present a similar look to Andrade. Saunders is a slick, hit-and-move southpaw who wouldn't be easy to find and can make anyone look bad.

Sure, Canelo would be favored over the tactical Saunders but would risk being outboxed by the Brit. And even in victory, Canelo would surely have difficulty looking good against this guy.

Best of the rest
WBA Super Middleweight Champion Fedor Chudinov doesn't have the juice to face Canelo who already received a showcase opponent in Rocky Fielding in the Alvarez's DAZN debut.

And while Canelo vs Caleb Plant, the IBF Super Middleweight Champion, would be interesting, the latter still lacks the name recognition or resume of Kovalev, Bivol, Beterbiev, Saunders, Smith or Gvozdyk to appease DAZN. He looks good so far and has the style, the charisma and an inspiring storyline to sell a big fight when or if he enhances his ledger.

So yes, Canelo vs Kovalev makes sense. The latter is an accomplished, big name champion who has shown vulnerabilities in the ring as has a style that is amenable to Alvarez's.


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