Undisputed Middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez was looking for something to excite him.
He looked around his 160-pound division and didn’t see what he wanted. He looked at 168 pounds and his network, streaming app DAZN, pitched Undisputed Super Middleweight champ Callum Smith. Solid fighter, but not yet a big enough name in Canelo’s mind.
Then it was the unthinkable, let’s look at 175 pounds.
It was at light heavyweight that Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) found what he was searching for this Saturday in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. WBO Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev will defend his title against the Mexican superstar in Canelo’s attempt to win his fourth world title in a different division.
When rumors of this fight made the rounds, some sportsbooks offshore and in England opened Canelo as a huge favorite, numbers as high as -900 to -1000 were out there. Once the fight was officially made the line came out at major books all over the world this time the betting line was between -400 and -500.
A lot of this discrepancy came from the idea that Kovalev’s best days are behind him at 36 years old. However, Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) still has power and as George Foreman taught us in 1994 when he won the Heavyweight championship at age 42, power is the last thing to go.
A jump from 160 to 175 is a massive change. But one thing is certain when it comes to boxing ability, Canelo is on another level than Kovalev.
Right now, -440 can be found at Caesars and CG Technology for those who like Canelo, while the takeback on Kovalev is +375 at the Westgate SuperBook.
Props haven’t lit up in Vegas yet, but it looks like Canelo will be between -110 to -130 to win by decision, he will be +175 to +220 to win by knockout. Kovalev by decision is anywhere from +700 to +900, the Krusher by KO is +500 to +600.
Much of this comes down to the fact that Canelo has been in the ring with smart fighters, guys who have had power but have never been able to crack that solid defense that he brings to every fight.
The one wild card here is this is a fight Canelo could be winning so easily that he takes the Michael Moorer route, winning every round convincingly but decides the knockout becomes more important than winning the fight.
Moorer had the best boxing performance of his career pummeling Foreman over and over back in 1994, piling up points round after round. But something inside him had to have the knockout, Moorer craved the glory of being the first fighter since Muhammad Ali to stop Big George.
Fight fans from the ‘90s know the rest of this story. Moorer was flat on his back staring at the lights, the knockout he wanted, resulted in his own demise.
The point of all of this is Canelo can box circles around Kovalev. The 29-year old can stick and move, make it a defensive masterclass in which Kovalev grows tired of chasing him around and starts lunging from the outside. Kovalev’s frustration will open offensive opportunities making it easy for Canelo to land punches that matter, wowing the crowd and the judges.
If Canelo fights smart, he gets out of Las Vegas with an easy win and new world championship to call his own. If Canelo gets greedy and doesn’t take Kovalev’s power as a true threat, it’s feasible something wild happens in Las Vegas.
The more aggressive Canelo fights offensively, the more Kovalev has a shot. When making bets the idea is to go with the thing you find to be the most likely ending. For me, it’s Canelo by decision, but maybe the old man has one more big punch left in the tank. CANELO BY DECISION