Bernard Hopkins: Sergey Kovalev could KO Canelo Alvarez
By Barry Holbrook: Bernard Hopkins says fans won’t be surprised if Sergey ‘The Krusher’ Kovalev defeats the smaller Saul Canelo Alvarez by knockout in their fight on November 2 on DAZN at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The combination of size and raw punching power of the six-foot Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) could prove to be too much for the 5’8″ Canelo in this fight. Even though Kovalev is clearly on the downside of his career, his punching power is good now as it ever was.
Canelo (52-1-2, 35 KOs) is moving up two weight classes to make history by challenging Kovalev for his WBO light heavyweight title. This is an opportunity for Canelo to try and capture his fourth division world title, but he’s facing a serious risk in taking on ‘The Krusher.’ This is a fighter that walks around at 200 pounds, says Hopkins, and has one-punch power. Canelo won’t be able to compete against the taller Kovalev if he stays on the outside the way Floyd Mayweather Jr. did in beating the Mexican star.
— Golden Boy (@GoldenBoyBoxing) September 19, 2019
Canelo has never fought anyone the size of Kovalev
Saul Alvarez has never fought anyone nearly as big as Kovalev. Although Canelo recently beat the 5’11” Daniel Jacobs, but he’s not as big or as powerful as Kovalev. Canelo just barely edged Jacobs. That fight was decided on Canelo’s quick start in the first six rounds, as Jacobs gave away the first half of the fight. Canelo faded in the second part of the fight, and Jacobs was able to rally to make it close.
Kovalev has power to bail him out with one punch
“Is it a risk? Yes,” said Hopkins about Canelo moving up two divisions to face Kovalev at 175. “Has it been done often? No. Who done it last? Me, Bernard Hopkins. He’s paying attention to history. Every athlete has an opportunity to make history, and he’s [Canelo Alvarez] is doing that. He’s the Evil Knievel of boxing. To me, all risks are calculated until you achieve it. The ‘Krusher’ has one thing that most fighters are not born with; he can always bail himself out if he hits that sweet spot with that big punch. And, he was named ‘The Krusher’ not by his promoter. He was named ‘The Krusher’ by the bodies he left in the trail of him in becoming who he is.
“This fight reminds me of George Foreman getting his a– kicked by Michael Moorer for 90 percent of the fight, and then the power from the old goat…when you’ve got a fighter who has been at 170 pounds the majority of his career, and this young guy is coming up, what do you think Kovalev is going to do? He [Kovalev] has the chance to revive his career to where it was less than a year or two ago, and he just did it in a shootout with his last opponent [Anthony Yarde]. He had to dig down and knock that guy out in the 11th round. This is going to be an exciting fight,” said Hopkins.
Canelo is taking a risk in fighting the 36-year-old Kovalev, but one can hardly describe him as the “Evil Knievel” of boxing, as Hopkins refers to him. For Canelo to be viewed as the ultimate daredevil in boxing, he would need to face one of the following light heavyweights:
- Artur Beterbiev
- Dmitry Bivol
- Oleksandr Gvozdyk
Hopkins: Fans won’t be surprised if Kovalev knocks out Canelo
“I don’t think too many people will be surprised if Canelo loses this fight,” said Hopkins. “Would they be surprised if Canelo gets knocked out? You know what they’re going to say? ‘No, it’s a dangerous fight. The conversation isn’t about how Kovalev is going to win. It’s about how Canelo is going to win and can he win. That’s why we’re here. It’s going to make it very interesting,” said Hopkins.
With Kovalev’s huge size and power, fans won’t be surprised if he stops Canelo. There will still be a lot of fans that be shocked by Canelo getting knocked out, because he’s proven to have a good chin during his 14-year pro career. However, Canelo was hurt a couple of times in his rematch with Gennady Golovkin last year in September. That fight showed that Canelo is human, and is vulnerable when he’s hit cleanly.
All the head and upper body movement that Canelo used in both Golovkin fights made it difficult for GGG to land his shots cleanly. More than anything, that’s true reason why Canelo wasn’t knocked out in both fights. If Canelo just stood in front of Golovkin and traded shots with him, it would have ended badly for him.
Golovkin was the bigger puncher, and more capable of winning a war of attrition. Kovalev’s best chance of knocking out Canelo is pick him off with his power jabs from the outside. Once Kovalev has Canelo timed, he’ll start dropping bombs to his chin and body.
Hopkins predicts Canelo win by 11th round knockout over Kovalev
“I wasn’t surprised [Canelo chose to fight Kovalev], because I remember the [Daniel] Jacobs fight,” said Hopkins. “When he got through that fight by decision, he said, ‘I want to fight Sergey Kovalev].’ Eric Gomez, the CEO of Golden Boy, said, ‘What do you think?’ Obviously, I know something about Kovalev. I said, ‘Really?’ ‘Yeah, wouldn’t that be a good fight? He wants to fight him.’ I said to Eric Gomez, ‘If anyone has a chance, Canelo, because of his matrix type of defense, and he’s getting better and one guy [Kovalev] is still the same, let’s go.’ After the GGG fight, he now has confidence that he can take one if he has to.
“With the youth and experience, I give it to Canelo by knockout in the 11th round after both guys might hit the deck early on, because of the power, and the danger ‘The Krusher’ presents. I think anyone with a chin can hit the deck, and he’s [Canelo] fighting a bigger guy. If it was a bigger guy that didn’t have a punch, and was just way bigger, I’d say, ‘it’s just how long he chops the tree before we get out of here,'” said Hopkins.
Canelo is viewed as the favorite to beat Kovalev, and he’s aware of the champion’s vulnerability in taking body shots. Kovalev has lost three times in the last three years to Andre Ward and Eleider Alvarez. He almost lost his last fight to Anthony Yarde. A knockout win for Canelo isn’t that hard to see happening, because Kovalev is on the downside of his career at 36.
Kovalev will be dangerous at all times
“In this case, you’ve got to chop a tree, and you have to be aware that this guy can hit you one time; we’re talking light heavyweight,” said Hopkins about the danger Kovalev presents to Canelo. “And, we’re not talking GGG, and we’re not talking about Daniel Jacobs, or anyone that fights at 160 to 168. We’re talking about a light heavyweight that comes down to fight at 175, that walks around at 200 pounds,” said Hopkins.
If Canelo gets sloppy in trying to stop Kovalev, he could run into something and get knocked out. Kovalev will need to stay off the ropes if he wants to win the fight. In Kovalev’s knockout loss to Ward, he backed up against the ropes, and was taken out with several low blows. Canelo doesn’t throw a lot of low blows, but he’s an excellent body puncher. He’ll have an excellent chance of stopping Kovalev if he fights off the ropes like he did in his rematch with Ward.