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McGirt says Kovalev’s hand speed will surprise Canelo

Canelo Alvarez Sergey Kovalev Canelo vs. Kovalev DAZN

By Sean Jones: Trainer Buddy McGirt says the hand speed of WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev will surprise Saul Canelo Alvarez when they face each other on November 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. McGirt thinks Canelo and his trainers are sleeping on everything in overlooking the threat that Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) poses.


Most people expect Kovalev to stay on the outside and try and use his jab all night against Canelo. Kovalev could have a few surprises up his sleeves in him targeting Canelo’s wide body. You can’t miss with shots aimed at Canelo’s tank-like upper body, because he’s built like a short wrestler rather than a boxer.

Team Canelo picked Kovalev out of all the light heavyweight champions, and it’s believed that he sees him as easiest of the bunch. That in itself has to bother Kovalev and McGirt, because he clearly sees him as a guy that he can beat. If he didn’t think he could beat him, he would be off his list.


McGirt wants to keep Canelo from getting inside on Kovalev

“Camp is great because we’re not looking at Canelo like the smaller guy,” said Kovalev’s trainer McGirt to The Ring Digital. “We’re not looking at going into this fight as the bigger, stronger guy. The goal is to be the better fighter that night, and the smarter and better fighter. We’re doing everything we need to do to avoid that situation, and have a counter attack for it,” said McGirt about Kovalev training to keep Canelo from getting inside.

“That’s a good point,” said McGirt in response to the comment Kovalev made recently in asking what will Canelo do when he hits him to the body. “Nobody likes it to the body. I don’t care who you are. If you get hit with a good body shot, then what are you going to do? And most guys that go to the body, really hate it to the body,” said McGirt.

McGirt needs to understand what Kovalev is dealing with in Canelo. Being smart is nice for Kovalev, but he’s got to understand that he might need a knockout to win. The only fighter that has beaten Canelo by a decision is Floyd Mayweather Jr., and he easily could have four losses on his record. Both fights against Gennady Golovkin could have been defeats for Canelo. There’s also Canelo’s fights against Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara. Those arguably should have been defeats as well. Kovalev is fighting Canelo in Las Vegas, and that’s a city where he doesn’t lose.

Canelo vs. Kovalev similar to Jones vs. Tarver 2

“I’m excited because it’s a great fight for boxing,” said McGirt. “Even though one guy is bigger than the other, I believe it’s going to be one of the best fights of the year. You got two guys with something to prove more than what people think. They have a lot riding on this. Tarver-Jones 2,” said McGirt when asked what this fight reminds him of.

“I don’t have to psych him [Kovalev] up. He’s been doing this too long. I told Kovalev, ‘We got to put it altogether that night,’ and he said, ‘I know, coach.’ ‘You’ve got to be running on all cylinders that night.’ He knows it. I’m not going to sit and give him an hours speech. He’s been doing this too long,” said McGirt.

Canelo vs. Kovalev is NOTHING like the Roy Jones Jr. vs. Antonio Tarver 2 fight. Jones Jr. was a speed guy that was coming down from heavyweight when he fought Tarver for the second time, and it was a completely different fight than Canelo-Kovalev. McGirt needs to forget about the past, and focus on the task at hand for Kovalev.

Canelo does have weaknesses in terms of his inability to handle fast pace fights, and the fact that he tires in the second half of his bouts. When Canelo’s opponents throw more than two punches at a time, he doesn’t do well. He counters well on single shots, but not when his opponents throw combinations of more than 2 punches. If Kovalev puts it on Canelo with 4 punch combinations, he has a good chance of taking him out.

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Canelo will be surprised by Kovalev’s hand speed

Kovalev’s hand speed,” said McGirt when asked what will surprise Canelo the most on November 2. “Yeah, they’re sleeping on everything. I can’t tell what they’re thinking, but when you’ve got a guy that can punch like Sergey, they think he’s going to come and look for that one shot.

“Nah, he’s going to come and put it together. Like I said, we’ve got to put it all together that night. Not perfect, but near perfect. Both guys have to be on point. Yeah, of course. He wants to box, and take him to the late rounds, and then step on the gas. So when he steps on the gas, we got to step on our gas harder,” said McGirt.

Canelo will likely have the speed advantage in the fight, but Kovalev does have better hand speed than a lot of the guys he’s been fighting. Gennadiy Golovkin’s slower hands allowed Canelo to get out of the way of a lot of the shots he would throw. Not surprisingly, Golovkin had his best success at hitting Canelo when he threw combinations. He just didn’t throw enough of them to impress the Nevada judges. Kovalev and McGirt needs to learn from the mistakes GGG made against Canelo. Combination punching is clearly Kovalev’s best best of beating Canelo, because he’s not likely going to win a decision by jabbing all night. Lara, Trout and Golovkin all found out that you can’t beat Canelo by jabbing.

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