For 10 rounds, it was a tactical affair. Bad Left Hook’s two scorecards had Canelo Alvarez up 96-94 on one, and Sergey Kovalev 96-94 on the other. There were plenty of people who thought that Kovalev’s jab had things relatively in control.
Then, just over two minutes into the 11th round, Canelo popped Kovalev with a left hook and gave him the stanky leg, and then finished things off with a vicious, clean, undefended right hand to the jaw, and we had a new WBO light heavyweight titleholder.
Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KO) absolutely blasted Kovalev (34-4-1, 29 KO) out with that right hand, and while it may be assuming too much to say that the master plan of Canelo and the Reynosos went entirely according to plan, he did the job with no controversy here, and in a fight where it looked like we were probably headed for at least a little.
At the time of the stoppage, Canelo led 96-94 on two official cards, and the third was even, 95-95.
Kovalev pumped his jab all night, often not with a whole lot of intent, but it kept him busier than Alvarez, and in many rounds where Alvarez didn’t do a whole lot himself, that made it viable to give Kovalev the edge on the card.
But Canelo was generally the one throwing with more bad intentions, and in the end, that paid off. He found the spot, got a bit more aggressive, and laid down the hammer, finishing Kovalev off in pretty spectacular fashion.
“We stuck to our game plan, and it was delayed a little bit, but overall it was successful,” Alvarez said after the fight. “It was a close fight because he was defensive, he was closing up his guard. All he was doing was trying to get points, but we knew it would come. Everything came out the way we had planned.”
The win opens up what’s next for Alvarez, of course, and we’ll get into that more on Sunday. Probably the biggest fight out there for Canelo, 29, is still the third fight with Gennadiy Golovkin, which Canelo doesn’t sound excited about, but he’s not closing the door on it, either.
“He’s not really a challenge for me,” Alvarez said. “I’ve fought him 24 rounds and he’s not a challenge for me, but if it represents business, why not?”
Kovalev gave credit to his opponent after the fight.
“Canelo is a really great champion,” Kovalev said. “Big respect for him. He makes history.”
Kovalev, 36, indicated he does plan to fight on.