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Canelo vs Kovalev: Staff predictions and picks

Canelo Alvarez moves up in weight once again against Sergey Kovalev. Is he going too far, or is he doing this at the right time?

Canelo Alvarez v Sergey Kovalev - Final News Conference Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Tomorrow night streaming live on DAZN, Canelo Alvarez faces Sergey Kovalev in the 175-pound main event, while Ryan Garcia takes on Romero Duno in the 135-pound co-feature.

Our staffers make their picks.

Ryan Garcia vs Romero Duno

Scott Christ

Duno is a true fighter, a real warrior, and he’s very limited. If Jose Rodriguez can give Duno legitimate problems, Ryan Garcia — if he’s even 70% of what he’s meant to be — should dice the Filipino up in this one.

There is the chance that Garcia is ill-prepared, as he spent most of his summer haggling with Golden Boy, but he was set to fight in September, so there’s also the chance he’s over-trained. These are the things that potentially give Duno a shot, but if Garcia and Co. weren’t confident of beating the brawler, they wouldn’t have taken the fight. I think Garcia goes the distance and flags a bit at times, but gets the solid W. Garcia UD-12

Wil Esco

The will he, won’t he of Garcia-Duno seems to finally be a thing of the past as Garcia has now agreed to take on the Filipino fighter. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing Garcia get his comeuppance because he comes across as a super arrogant and entitled prospect, but I’m not sure Duno is quite the man for the job.

Garcia might have all the makings to be a star in boxing, but I think his actual craft in the ring still needs a lot of refinement. From what I’ve seen, Garcia is still a headhunter who I’m looking to show signs of improvement now that he’s working with Canelo’s trainers. That said, I think Duno is at least a step in the right direction. Garcia is going to need to be in against some tough, determined, and capable opponents if he aspires to do more than pluck an opportunistic title shot down the line. I think Duno makes Garcia work for it but I don’t think Duno is dynamic enough to carry the day. I expect Garcia to land the flashier shots that will give him a leg up on the scorecards. Garcia UD-12

Patrick L. Stumberg

I always love it when young prospects with complementary weaknesses go at it. As far as I can tell, Garcia’s biggest issue besides incompetent trash-talking is his habit of backing straight into the ropes when pressured, a weakness the hard-charging Duno looks primed to exploit. At the same time, Duno overcommits so badly to his punches that he’s ripe for the high-speed combinations that are Garcia’s bread and butter.

If you were to shove Duno in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber for a few days during training camp, he’d be a nightmare for Garcia to deal with at this stage. As is, he’s just way too easy to pick off, too wild with his favored right hand, and too liable to gas himself on missed punches to capitalize on the opportunities Garcia gives him. The height and reach disadvantages don’t help, either. “Kingry” survives a rough start to take Duno apart with combinations in the later rounds. Garcia UD-12

Lewis Watson

This fight is definitely a step up for Garcia. “The Flash” has strolled through every challenge he has been spoon-fed so far by Golden Boy, but in Duno, Garcia has an opponent who can potentially rough him up a little.

If Duno can sit on Garcia’s chest in the early exchanges and bring the heat to the 21-year-old, it’ll be a good test of how malleable Garcia is when he’s put under pressure – pressure he hasn’t yet experienced as a pro. Duno probably can’t do this over the 12 round distance though, so when Garcia starts to find his range, using his length to his advantage, the fight should become fairly one-sided.

I’d like to see Garcia take a couple of licks in this one. With Lopez, Haney and Stevenson making moves in recent months, Garcia needs to keep up with the “prospects”.

I dunno if Duno will get stopped though, d’you know what I mean?! Garcia UD-12

And the staff winner is...

Ryan Garcia v Romero Duno - Media Day Photo by Sye Williams/Getty Images

Ryan Garcia (4-0)!

Canelo Alvarez vs Sergey Kovalev

Scott Christ

Here’s the bottom line: Canelo, Golden Boy, and Canelo’s team (the Reynosos) would not have taken this fight, let alone hand-picked it, if they didn’t think Alvarez could pick Kovalev apart. They think they’ll win. Usually when a move like this is made, it’s because the smaller side are rightly confident they’re fighting the right guy at the right time.

We saw something kinda similar when Alvarez fought Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Rocky Fielding at 164 and 168, respectively. Neither of those guys were ever good enough to make up for Canelo’s size disadvantage. Kovalev is, in theory, but he’s ripe for the picking at 175, too. Anthony Yarde had some minor successes — Anthony Yarde, whose best attributes were action figure muscularity and a win over, uh, Tony Averlant? — and Canelo will be ready to bust the body and test the older man’s gas tank. Alvarez assaults the midsection and beats Kovalev in impressive fashion. It’ll be a very good win that comes from tactics and execution, but yes, Canelo is fighting the right credible guy at the right time. I don’t know that he’ll get him out, because I don’t know that Alvarez will be willing to take the risk to sell out enough to do so if he’s winning the fight otherwise. Canelo UD-12

Wil Esco

There’s a general sentiment that Sergey Kovalev is ripe for the picking as a light heavyweight titleholder. Kovalev, while still pretty formidable, certainly isn’t the fighter he was a few years ago. The biggest weakness in Kovalev’s game is that he’s got that tenderoni torso. Obviously body shots can have an effect on anybody, but Kovalev at least appears to be a little more vulnerable downstairs than others, and curiously bad at defending against those punches. And guess what Canelo Alvarez is plenty proficient at: throwing sharp body shots as leads and counters.

One of the biggest knocks against Canelo in recent years is that he’s been very carefully managed and matched. He waited out Gennadiy Golovkin for a couple years until there was clear signs of decline from GGG, picked his spot to earn a 168-pound title fight against an overmatched opponent, and he always seems to get the benefit on the scorecards. Canelo has, however, proved to be a legitimate talent nonetheless, who really is a good all-around fighter.

There’s a reason Canelo sought out this particular fight against Kovalev, and it’s because he clearly sees a path to victory against a bigger opponent than he’s ever faced before. I’m with him on that. Canelo is physically peaking while Kovalev is physically declining and I think it shows on Saturday. I’m going to take Canelo by late disembowelment. Canelo TKO-10

Patrick L. Stumberg

Going into this week, I was all puffed up about my Kovalev pick. I was going to ramble about how people forget what a skilled boxer he is and how his power is on another level from anything Canelo’s faced before. Then I remembered how deep the Russian had to dig to get past a muscled-up greenhorn in Anthony Yarde, and I realized how long it’s been since Kovalev has really been “The Krusher.”

The 2016 incarnation of Kovalev, the one that threw 80+ knockout punches a round and deserved a win over the greatest super middleweight of the modern era, would smash Canelo. That killer jab and jaw-dropping firepower would have been way, way too much. The current incarnation, still rebuilding after his disastrous loss to Eleider Alvarez, just seems to have too much mileage on him. I do think that this will be extremely competitive for the first six rounds or so, but after that, Canelo’s body assault will start to pay dividends and turn the 36-year-old Kovalev into a stationary target. There’s a reason Canelo picked him out of all the light heavyweight champs. Canelo TKO-10

Lewis Watson

This is a superfight! Or is it?! I really don’t know. It feels like it should be.

In one corner you have the “face of boxing” moving up a couple of weight classes, and in the other, you’ve got one of the best modern-day light heavyweights with a vicious KO record to boot; it’s a recipe for one of the best fights of all time, right?!

As much as I twist my own arm, I’m still not getting the real pump for this fight. Maybe it’s due to the amount of mesmerising 50/50s we’ve enjoyed over the last two months, or perhaps it’s just because I just can’t envisage Kovalev winning this fight. “A good biggun always beats a good littlun,” sure, but we’re dealing with Canelo here — he exceeds “good” in every category.

At 36, Kovalev is clearly on the slide. He was unconvincing against Yarde when nobody gave the Briton a chance, and with Canelo’s ability to pepper the body with ferocity, the questionable solar plexus of “Krusher” will take a pounding from the opening bell. Kovalev has huge power, yes, but Canelo has proved his whiskers stand up to serious heat. Can Kovalev box to a decision? In Vegas? Hell no.

I want to be wrong. Having to stay up until 5 am for these Vegas fights you want a return on your commitment with a competitive fight, but I can’t see anything but a comfortable night for the “challenger”. I’m just hoping this jump up in weight and size disparity asks a few more questions of Canelo than we have seen asked recently.

Ok. I’m a little more pumped now than I was 267 words ago. Canelo TKO-10

And the staff winner is...

Canelo Alvarez v Sergey Kovalev - Final News Conference Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Canelo Alvarez (4-0)!

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