The Big Question: Canelo vs Kovalev - who wins?

Boxing Monthly
31/10/2019 11:40pm

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

This weekend Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez moves to light heavyweight to challenge Sergey Kovalev. James Lupton, Lee Gormley, James Oddy, Paul Zanon, Mark Butcher and Luke G. Williams are here with their big fight predictions...

This is a super fight. I am surprised there hasn’t been more excitement around it, maybe that’s because people deem Kovalev past it or it could be due to Canelo’s previous failure in drug testing. With the Mexican beefing up multiple weight divisions this fight has the feel of Leonard vs Lalonde about it. Make no mistake about it there is a lot at stake for Alvarez who is the bookies' favourite. The question is: does the Russian hit harder than Golovkin? If he doesn’t Canelo will have an easier night than expected. For me Kovalev is rightly labelled the underdog and Canelo should grind out a late stoppage. - James Lupton

If I was simply asked to make a fight pick between arguably the best middleweight in the world and a top three light-heavyweight in the world, I'd be picking the latter for sure. But the fact the middleweight in question here is Canelo changes everything. There's no doubt this will be a tough fight for the Mexican, despite Kovalev being past his prime. But it's unlikely to play out in the same manner as Garcia vs Spence Jr or Rigondeaux vs Lomachenko, when fighters making big jumps up in weight were humbled. Canelo may have the best chin in the sport and is very hard to hit clean, but he's also yet to prove he can stop an elite level fighter above light-middleweight. So I can only see this going the distance and in that instance there's more than likely only going to be one winner. I can see Kovalev boxing well early on and using his jab effectively but Alvarez will eventually get to work on the Russian's body and catch the eye later on in a very close fight. Canelo by unanimous decision for me, with some typically one-sided cards coming after a very tight fight. - Lee Gormley

Is this the first time Kovqlev has headed into a fight as an underdog with a huge swathe of support? Perhaps he did against Ward to a certain extent but i can't remember a fighter making such a dramatic 'face turn' after being a career 'bad guy'. But that's by the by, I suppose. This fight is way more intriguing than it has any right to be. The Russian isn't the same supreme boxer-pucher he was a few years ago. Canelo is in his prime at the moment and the establishment man. But Kov is a natural light-heavy who showed real heart and drive to quell the youthful exuberance of Anthony Yarde last time out. Canelo is used to being a bully in the ring. What will happen when he isn't in that spot anymore? I expect Kovalev to come out looking sharper than he has in some time, buoyed by this being his last shot 'super fight'. He'll put it on the Mexican; but i expect Canelo to weather the storm and ride it out, coming back with his own trademark combinations and hurting the Russia. It'll ultimately end as a points win for Las Vegas new 'golden boy'. - James Oddy

The sensible choice is Canelo, based on his recent form. Although Rocky Fielding is not in the same league as Kovalev, in that fight Canelo was able to show how he could shorten the height and reach advantage, by clever footwork and bobbing and weaving. Once he's in close, he's hard to get off. Also he can really take a punch. However, never underestimate Kovalev. Although he's coming to the end of his career, in his last couple of fights, under Buddy McGirt, he has shown some of the best footwork of his career, fired from great angles and out hustled very strong opponents. If he's able to keep Canelo at the end of his jab...who knows? Also - Kovalev has one-punch knockout power. It will be interesting to see, if he connects clean, how Canelo reacts. I'll go Canelo on points, but if the best Kovalev turns up, we could be in for an upset. This is a 60/40 fight in Canelo's favour in my opinion. - Paul Zanon

Canelo on points. My psychic told me there will be a hugely unpopular scorecard. - Mark Butcher

Logic and the Vegas judges' past history of liking Canelo's work both point to a decision victory for the Mexican. But I get the feeling we are due an upset before the year is out, and Kovalev just may spring one by winning on the cards or securing a draw. - Luke G. Williams

Final tally: Canelo 5 Kovalev 1