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Virgil Hunter cautions Canelo about “dangerous Kovalev”

Canelo Alvarez, Sergey Kovalev boxing photo

By Mark Eisner: Trainer Virgil Hunter questions why Saul Canelo Alvarez is considering moving up to 175 to take on WBO champion Sergey Kovalev in November. Hunter sees that as a “dangerous situation” for Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) to be putting himself in. Canelo doesn’t need to fight at light heavyweight, because he’s got plenty of fighters to choose from at 154, 160 and 168.

Hunter surmises that Canelo sees something in Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) that he feels he can exploit; otherwise he wouldn’t be looking to take that fight. The general belief that hardcore boxing fans have is that Canelo is picking the most vulnerable of the 175-lb champions in Kovalev, who clearly is no longer in his prime. Canelo isn’t targeting the other light heavyweight champions Artur Beterbiev, Dmitry Bivol and Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Those fighter are all in their prime, and fighting at a higher level than Kovalev. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that Canelo isn’t speaking about wanting to fight any of those guys.

Hunter: Why does Canelo want to fight Kovalev?

“It’s a fight that you would want to ask yourself why would he want to take that fight?” said trainer Virgil Hunter to Fighthype about Canelo looking to face Kovalev next. “You’ve got to give him credit for daring to be great. It’s obvious he [Canelo] sees something he feels he can exploit. All I can do is give him credit for taking a fight of that magnitude in jumping up two weight classes to put himself in a dangerous situation like that.

Win or lose, he’s going to get credit even if he loses, because he’s got an out. He dared to be great. With his fan base, he’s not going to be ridiculed, put down or talked about. He’s going to be put more on a pedestal by daring to be great. Other fighters are going to be challenged to make a same move,” said Hunter.

Canelo is chasing glory in going up to 175 to take on Sergey Kovalev for his WBO title, because he stands to gain a lot of he wins. The credit that Canelo will receive from the boxing world for beating Kovalev is much more than he would receive in defeating Gennady Golovkin a second time. There’s no one else at 160 that Canelo can fight where he would be praised worldwide for beating them.

Golovkin is only dangerous guy Canelo has fought in moving up says Hunter

“He [Canelo] moved up in weight for the [Gennady] Golovkin fight,” said Hunter. “Outside of the Golovkin fight, he strategically moved up in weight. And, outside of the Golovkin fight, that was really the only dangerous fight. I think he fought [Erislandy] Lara at 154. Since he moved up in weight, he only fought Golovkin at 160. And, he didn’t fight anyone else at 160, I don’t think. He did fight him [Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.], but he put him in a bad predicament by putting a lot of weight clauses on Chavez.

He was definitely going to be a limited Chavez Jr. in getting him down to a weight he hadn’t fought in a while. To take that kind of weight off; it was a weight that he wasn’t going to perform best at. Again, he [Canelo] has the advantage of a catch-weight fight. And if you have the advantage of a catch-weight fight, and you’re the A-side, those advantages are going to be in your court. It’s not going to be in the other guy’s court. It’s going to be in your court,” said Hunter.

Hunter might have forgotten about Canelo’s recent victory over IBF middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs last May. That fight took place at 160, albeit with a rehydration clause. Canelo won the fight, and looked good. It was a bad situation with the 164 1/2 pound catch-weight that Canelo used in his fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. The catch-weight wasn’t needed for Canelo to beat Chavez Jr., because the former Mexican star was too heavy at the start of his camp. Chavez Jr. reportedly started camp at 235 pounds, and had to lose a massive amount of weight to get down to 164.5 pounds for the catch-weight.

Hunter say Canelo wouldn’t agree to weight concessions for Khan fight

“In the [Amir] Khan fight, we asked for weight concessions to make it a more even fight [against Canelo], that he could only put on a certain amount of weight, and he balked at it,” said Hunter. “So all the advantages were in his [Canelo] court. I had absolutely no margin of error nowhere. And in a fight of that magnitude, you do want a margin of error somewhere along the performance line. Khan had none. So he [Canelo] put it on Chavez, and he got him at the right time [heavy and a badly out of shape], and he got [James] Kirkland at the right time. He’d been off for a year and a half, and not fighting. It’s very predictable,” said Hunter.

Hunter didn’t elaborate about what type of weight concessions he was trying to get from Canelo for the Khan fight, but probably wouldn’t have mattered. Even if Khan got the concessions, he was always going to have problems with Canelo’s power. That was a mismatch the moment the fight was put together, and it shouldn’t have been made.

Hunter says Canelo should defend WBC Franchise title like normal belts

“But you can’t take anything away from him,” said Hunter about Canelo. “Back then, if you compared his record to some of the others, you definitely have to put him there. And if he’s in that position to call the shots, then so be it. The person taking the fight has to understand that, and do the best they can under those circumstances. You wonder and scratch your head at that move,” said Hunter about the World Boxing Council appointing Canelo their WBC Franchise champion. “I don’t know if [WBC president Mauricio] Sulaiman explained it, their reason for it. Of course, it would have to do with sanctioning fees, and it would have to do with money. But it would also have to do with him [Canelo] being in a situation where again a protection umbrella is put over him, because the WBC is not going to call for him to fight his mandatory’s.

But the IBF, they stood up strong, and said, ‘what the WBC is putting down, we’re not going to put down. If you don’t fight the #1 contender, we’re going to strip you of the belt. So I applaud the IBF for making the correct stance. I mean, that’s a little too much. That’s taking away somebody else’s opportunity. And then to say if you lose, the Franchise title doesn’t go to somebody else. On the night of the fight don’t announce it for the Franchise title. It’s not going to go to anybody else [if you lose]. Just announce it as a ghost title, and it’s something you just put out there. But don’t announce it, ‘this is for the WBC Franchise title,'” said Hunter.

The WBC is the one that started the Franchise tag situation, and Canelo has gone along with it.

Canelo’s Franchise tag bothers Hunter

“If the fighter he’s competing against wins, he can’t win [the belt],” sad Hunter. “Is Sulaiman appeasing Canelo Alvarez? Hey, it’s great to be Canelo Alvarez. What’s good for one should be good for the other,” said Hunter when asked if the WBC should give heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder the Franchise tag. “You can’t leave him out there alone. If you look at his performance rates, Deontay Wilder has outperformed Canelo in terms of how he’s gone about getting his victories. He is the WBC heavyweight champ. So if they want to put that on him, I don’t think anybody would go against that choice based on Canelo getting that choice or any other dominant WBC title holder if they choose to do.

So I think Sulaiman is doing that to save face from the criticism he’s been getting on that move. The sad part is nobody has challenged it. Nobody has disputed it. As long as Canelo is the cash cow and is bringing money to the networks, and the fighters that fight him are getting paid. I just think that if you beat him, you should get the belt; otherwise why is he going to fight for the belt, if he loses and doesn’t have to give it up. When is he going to legitimately fight and defend that Franchise title?” said Hunter.




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