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Did Kovalev hold back against Canelo?

Canelo Alvarez Sergey Kovalev

By Jeff Aronow: The way last Saturday’s fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas between Saul Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev played out, a lot of people are questioning whether the match was scripted performance. Boxing fans why WBO light heavyweight champion Kovalev (34-4-1, 29 KOs) appeared to hold back with his power shots, and fight with such a low intensity.

Did Kovalev hold back intentionally? 

A lot of fans got a bad vibe from watching the fight, as it looked like Kovalev was holding back for some reason. In the 8th, Kovalev came out looking like a different person in throwing shots with full power on them. Canelo looked ready to wilt by the end of the round. Oddly enough, Kovalev went back to fighting with little power in the 9th. It was like a slight switch having been turned off. From that point, Kovalev threw nothing with power.

Obviously, Canelo wanted to impress the boxing world by moving up to go after a fourth division world title. Unfortunately, the way Kovalev fought the entire fight by throwing weak punches, it made the fight look like a scripted performance in the eyes of a lot of fans. So instead of Canelo being praised, he’s criticized.

While it was supposed to be a big accomplishment for Canelo (53-1-2, 36 KOs) in stopping the much bigger 6’0″ Kovalev to win his 4th division world title, the victory has been undermined by fans saying it looked fixed. It doesn’t matter that some fans are supportive of Canelo.

There’s nothing Canelo or anyone can say that can explain away the way Kovalev fought. When you see a knockout artist change his fighting style overnight for the worse, it’s a red flag that something is going on. Kovalev wasn’t injured, so he can’t use that as an excuse.

Something wasn’t right with Kovalev

The performance by Kovalev, 36, was so far off how he normally fights that it was like watching another person. If this was the first time that people had seen Kovalev, they wouldn’t be thinking something was up with the fight. Unfortunately for Canelo, the fans saw Kovalev fight a little over two months ago against Anthony Yarde on August 24, and he looked a lot faster and more powerful than what he showed against Canelo, It wasn’t just Kovalev’s power shots that were considerably more forceful.

Kovalev’s jabs were thrown weakly without speed

It was his jabs. The jabs that Kovalev threw against Yarde looked power shots. For some reason, Kovalev didn’t throw his jabs with anywhere near the same power against Canelo. After the fight, Kovalev he didn’t leave himself open to be countered to the body. But by throwing his jabs SLOWLY with little power on them, Kovalev left himself open to be countered by Canelo all night long.

Sergey would have been far better off to throw his jabs with speed and power like he normally does instead of the slow, weak jabs he threw against Canelo.

Holding back power shots, not countering the near-constant Canelo left hook, and the commentators declaring a KO within a split second of the first Canelo punch landing.

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