Sergey Kovalev says he can handle body shots

WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev says his upcoming title defense against Saul Canelo Alvarez on November 2 will answer all the questions that boxing fans have about him. Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) denies that he has a problem taking shots to the body, and he says he doesn’t know how he got that reputation.

Earlier today, Kovalev and his trainer Buddy McGirt took part in an international media conference call to discuss his fight against superstar Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) on DAZN on November 2 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Kovalev denies he can’t take body shots

“Why does everyone think I can’t handle body shots,” said Kovalev on Tuesday. “I was never attacked by body shots. I don’t know from where this opinion. The second fight [with Andre Ward] was from low blows. I said it already after the fight, it was a low blow. November 2 will be the fight, and everything we will see,” said Kovalev.

Kovalev brings up a VERY good point in saying that his body shot stoppage loss to Andre Ward was a product of him getting hit with 3 consecutive low blows. The referee Tony Weeks insisted that he saw the shots being landed, and they were above the belt line. However in slow motion replay, it appeared that Ward hit Kovalev with 3 consecutive shots BELOW the belt. In other words, the referee blew it, and failed to make the right call.

We still don’t know if Kovalev would have won the fight, but at least it would have been better if the fight ended without controversy. In the first Kovalev-Ward fight, Kovalev lost by a controversial 12 round decision in 2016. Since then, Kovalev hasn’t had problems taking body shots. Anthony Yarde hit Kovalev with some body shots in their match last August, but he wasn’t hurt by them. The incident where Kovalev was hurt was from a hard punch to the head.

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McGirt expects Canelo to attack Kovalev’s body

“It’s obvious it’s his game plan, because it’s one of his biggest tools, his body punching,” said Kovalev’s trainer Buddy McGirt about Canelo Alvarez. “For the record, nobody likes to get hit to the body.

“I don’t give a s–t who you are. What we did was order some triple X shorts for Sergey, and we’re going to pull them up to his chest, and then we’ll be OK,” said McGirt.

The whole world knows what Canelo’s game plan is going to be for the Kovalev fight. The much shorter 5’8″ Canelo needs to go to the body of the taller 6’0″ Kovalev for him to have a shot at winning. If Kovalev is able to keep the fight on the outside, he’ll embarrass Canelo by jabbing him to pieces.

Kovalev won’t allow Canelo to get comfortable

“The main thing is to avoid those type of incidents where we allow Canelo to feel comfortable,” said McGirt. “I mean, no matter what he tries to do, the kid has to make him uncomfortable with anything he tries to do.” It’s only happened one time, and that was the Mayweather fight,” said McGirt about how Floyd Mayweather Jr. made Canelo Alvarez uncomfortable with his jabbing. “And he really couldn’t get into his groove. After that, he became a better fighter, and he was able to dominate everybody. But realistically, who did he really fight? I’m not saying it’s a bad resume, but after the Mayweather fight, give me four guys that you said that were great,” said McGirt.

McGirt has tipped his hand in revealing what the game plan will be for Kovalev against Canelo by him mentioning the Floyd Mayweather fight that the Mexican star lost. Mayweather Jr. used his jab, and stayed on the outside the entire night. Unlike Gennady Golovkin, Mayweather didn’t attempt to hit Canelo with power shots, and that prevented him from landing his judge-please counter punches. Mayweather also did a good job of backing up each time Canelo would come forward to try and get in punching range. Golovkin didn’t do that. He mostly stood his ground, and allowed Canelo to get in punching range to tag him with occasional shots. Kovalev will likely use his feet to avoid Canelo when he tries to walk him down, because that’s the only we the Golden Boy star can win the fight. He’s got to walk Kovalev down to get in range to land his body shots.

McGirt doesn’t need to remind Kovalev to use jab

“Since the [Eleider] Alvarez fight, I’ve never had to remind Sergey again [about using his jab]. Since the Alvarez fight, I’ve never had to remind him again about the jab,” said McGirt.

Kovalev learned from his 7th round knockout loss to Eleider Alvarez in August 2018. In their rematch last February, Kovalev made it a point to constantly hit Eleider with jabs, and he was able to win an easy one-sided 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 120-108, 116-112 and 116-112.

Kovalev will try to throw his jabs harder against Canelo

“I never have to throw my jab hard,” said Kovalev. “When I throw my jab, it’s such a heavy punch. Yes, it was with a jab, but I didn’t throw it hard like a punch,” said Kovalev about his last fight against Anthony Yarde. “Maybe in the fight against Canelo, I’ll be able to make it more harder, and we’ll see. The fight will show everything. Who’s the best,” said Kovalev.

Kovalev might need to throw his jabs harder and faster if he wants to keep Canelo off of him. The ‘Krusher’ can’t afford to throw a slow, lazy jab like the one that Amir Khan tried throwing against Canelo in the 6th round in their fight in May 2016. Canelo countered Khan’s jab with a hard right hand, and knocked him unconscious. The way for Kovalev to keep Canelo off of him is to jab hard and fast, and move frequently.

If Canelo is able to get in punching range often enough against Kovalev, he’s very likely going to wear him down, and score a stoppage. That’s what Canelo is obviously banking on being able to do. If he didn’t think he could do, he wouldn’t have taken the fight with Kovalev.

Caleb Plant: I definitely see Canelo fight happening this year