Saul Canelo Alvarez says he rates WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev as the best fighter in the 175-pound division today. Canelo (52-1-2, 35 KOs) wants to beat Kovalev to become a four division world champion.
The Golden Boy Promotions star feels that capturing another division world title will help validate him in the eyes of the boxing public cement his legacy.
It would mean a lot more if Canelo were challenging one of the better light heavyweight champions like Dmitry Bivol, Artur Beterbiev or Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Canelo didn’t pick one of them for some reason. Was it fear? A lot of boxing fans think those champions would obliterate Canelo, especially Beterbiev, who has an excellent inside game. He would be bad news for Canelo.
Canelo wants that fourth division world title more than anything. However, he’s been receiving quite a bit of criticism from boxing fans for his choice of the 36-year-old Kovalev as the champion that he’s challenging at 175 than than one of the three other world champions in that weight class.
Kovalev was considered by some as the #1 fighter in the division, but that was many years ago. Now he’s old, fading, and not even considered anywhere near the top at light heavyweight. He’s firmly behind Artur Beterbiev, Dmitry Bivol and Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
If Kovalev loses to Canelo, then he’ll drop even further. At this point you, Kovalev might not be able to beat some of the contenders in the division like Gilberto Ramirez, Jessie Hart and Marcus Browne. He almost lost his last fight against Anthony Yarde, who is nothing special.
Canelo won his division world title against the following fighters:
- Matthew Hatton – junior middleweight title [catchweight fight at 150]
- Miguel Cotto – middleweight [*catchweight fight at 155]
- Rocky Fielding – super middleweight
“It’s important to be a four-division world champion,” Canelo said to Fightnews.com. You need to take risks to build a legacy. This is a challenge for my legacy. Kovalev is the best at his division. He has fought a lot of great fighters. I thought Kovalev surprised Andre Ward in that first fight.”
Canelo didn’t elaborate on what he means by saying Kovalev “surprised” Andre Ward in their fight in 2016. Kovalev lost that fight, as well as the rematch. The first fight was close, but the judges gave it to Ward. That’s all you can say about that. Close isn’t good enough in boxing when it comes to the judges. They have the final say so.
If Canelo beats Kovalev, it’ll be an accomplishment, but hardly a real shockingly great victory. The reason for that is Kovalev has lost three times since 2016. That’s not good. It tells you that he’s not the guy he used to be, and he’s not going to be able to hang onto his world title for too much longer.
Even if Kovalev beats Canelo, which is highly possible, he’s not going to last too much as the WBO champion. Someone is going to take his title from him. There’s a lot of pressure on Kovale to face one of the other light heavyweight champions in a unification fight. You’d like to think that Kovalev could potentially beat one of them, but it’s not likely. Beterbiev, Gvozdyk and Bivol are fighting at a much higher level than Kovalev at this point in his late career.