Going into last night’s risky gamble of a fight with light-heavyweight belt-holder Sergey Kovalev, Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez claimed he was the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport; ahead of guys like Vasyl Lomachenko, adding that he has “done more.” Now, in light of his quite spectacular 11th round KO of Kovalev, more than a few fans will be inclined to agree with the flame-haired warrior.
Now a champion at four different weights, Canelo made boxing history. Joining a select few Mexican greats to have captured as many titles in as many weights, Canelo also added his name to the short list of former 154 pound champions who made the succesful move up to 175 pound world championship level – Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike McCallum being the other three greats to have done it.)
Great? Does Canelo deserve the lofty tag now? It could be argued that he does indeed. It is also likely Canelo’s handiwork will earn him a great shot (pardon the pun) of picking up the 2019 KO of the Year award. A left hook followed by a crushing right hand did the man called “Krusher” in, leaving him draped over the ropes as the third man waved the fight off.
But seeing the ending doesn’t tell the full story, Canelo was made to fight, he was made to bide his time and he had to take a few shots from the bigger, taller man. Canelo was never noticeably hurt and the fight was no action affair. What it was was engrossing, tactical and quite enjoyable to watch. And it was close: one judge having it all even at 95-95 after ten rounds, the other two officials having Canelo up by a margin of 96-94. The brutal ending is what everyone will be talking about, though – with Ring Magazine’s website comparing Canelo’s KO to the epic knockout the immortal Rocky Marciano scored over Jersey Joe Walcott back in the golden era that was the 1950s.
So what next for Canelo, 53-1-2(36)? Having packed on so much weight and muscle for the Kovalev challenge, it could prove incredibly hard for Canelo to drop back down to 168, never mind 160 pounds. Who knows whether or not he will try and do so. Further big fights at 175 could be a real possibility, with Canelo saying so himself after winning the WBO strap last night. Canelo Vs. Artur Beterbiev would be the ultimate fight in the division – and the ultimate challenge for Canelo.
As for the beaten Kovalev, the Russian has had a fine career but now could be the time for him to call it quits. Kovalev, if he has indeed boxed his last fight, goes out with his head held high, and with a 34-4-1(29) ledger.