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Lomachenko on Canelo: He didn’t choose Beterbiev or Bivol; he picked Kovalev not at his peak

Artur Beterbiev Canelo Alvarez Sergey Kovalev Vasyl Lomachenko Canelo vs. Kovalev Dmitry Bivol

By Sean Jones: Lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko is openly critical of the way Saul Canelo Alvarez bypassed prime light heavyweight champions Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol so that he could face passed his prime WBO 175-lb belt holder Sergey Kovalev to capture his title.


Canelo wanted to make history by winning his fourth division world title, but he clearly cherry-picked the weakest of the light heavyweight champions in 36-year-old Kovalev (34-4-1, 29 KO) to fight earlier this month on November 2. Canelo won the fight by an 11th round knockout, but his achievement has been deprecated by boxing fans.

It’s obvious in looking at Canelo struggle against Kovalev that he would stand ZERO chance of beating IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) or WBA champion Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs).


The excuse that Canelo’s trainer Eddy Reynoso had for not fighting Beterbiev was especially weak. Reynoso claimed that Kovalev is better than Beterbiev, and it was a statement that was so ludicrous. It was hard to take anything Reynoso said seriously after he said that.

Lomachenko doesn’t respect what Canelo did in picking out Kovalev at this point in his career rather than when he was in his prime. Obviously, it would have been tough for Canelo to fight Kovalev when he was in his prime six years ago age 30. That was when Kovalev was knocking everyone out. Canelo was still fighting at 154, and he lacked the size to compete with a fighter like Kovalev.

Lomachenko expected Canelo to KO Kovalev quicker

“To be honest, I wasn’t surprised at the result, because I will say it like it is. Sergey is rather late in his career as a boxer, and I don’t see any sense in continuing his career except to make money. If you go out there to make money, there’s no question, it’s your today’s bread. But as a sports man and s a top level boxer, age is starting to take over.


“So to be honest, I thought it would happen a few rounds earlier. As we all know, Sergey keeps it going well for six rounds, and then he starts to have physical conditioning problems. After the sixth one, I thought he would start to unravel, and it would be all over by round eight. But Sergey did great. He and his team worked out a good strategy.

“He handled it really well up until round 11, and the judges’ notes speak for themselves. But this is boxing. Again, Alvarez claims to have the title as the best boxer on the planet, so everyone expected this from him,” said Lomachenko.

It would be nice if Canelo chose to prove Lomachenko and his critics wrong by signing to fight Bivol or Beterbiev in his next match, but that’s not going to happen. Canelo appears to be heading back down in weight to 160 or 168, and he’s not going to risk getting knocked out by Beterbiev or Bivol.

Canelo chose the fighter with better commercial value

The Golden Boy star Canelo should have fought one of those two to begin with instead of Kovalev, but he obviously went for the guy with more commercial value. Lomachenko didn’t look at it in the same way. He sees Bivol and Beterbiev as being in their prime, and feels that Canelo should have picked one of them.

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Selecting Kovalev for business purposes is a weak move when you’re getting the same amount of money from DAZN for every fight. Unless DAZN instruction Canelo to fight Kovalev, it’s a weak move on his part to fight an older fighter that is almost completely shot in Kovalev rather than Beterbiev or Bivol.

Kovalev has been around for a lot longer than Beterbiev and Bivol as a world champion, and he’s been involved in bigger fights. The 34-year-old Beterbiev is only 2 years younger than Kovalev, but he doesn’t have stamina or a chin problem like he does.

Canelo didn’t fight Kovalev at his peak – Lomachenko

“It’s not really about money or names here,” said Lomachenko.  “He has a contract that he’s signed, and no matter what his next fight is, he’ll get a fixed sum. The question here is that they use correct techniques to approach the boxers for him and choose such interesting opponents for him.

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“They seem to have the names, but they’re not at the level at the peak like they used to be. He didn’t try it two years ago when Sergey was at the peak of his form. He didn’t rise and box with him,” said Lomachenko in criticizing Canelo.

Again, there was no way that Canelo would have moved up from 154 to 175 to fight Kovalev six years ago. Even now, if Canelo fought the 2013 version of Kovalev, he would have been an unhappy superstar. Kovalev was arguably way too good for this or any version of Canelo to compete with him back in 2013. There was a big size and power difference between them.

Lomachenko: Canelo didn’t choose Beterbiev or Bivol 

“Now he hasn’t agreed to box with Bivol or Beterbiev,” said Lomachenko about Canelo. “He chose Sergey, a boxer who has already shown his full potential. Yes, that’s it,” said Lomachenko when asked if Kovalev’s name is more appealing than Bivol or Beterbiev. “It’s interesting how it worked. This person [Canelo] went one weight class up, boxed with the world champion [Kovalev], and got recognition.

“I compare it to myself at once, because I also box in a weight class that is not mine, but in 61, and I boxed with an Olympic champion and a main contender [Luke Campbell], who is one of the strongest in our weight class,” said Lomachenko in discussing his recent win over Luke Campbell. “I boxed him in his home country and it was received like, you know, ‘well, he didn’t knock him out.’ So I think people aren’t objective in their response to this.

“And I don’t really think about it to be honest,” said Lomachenko when asked if he thinks it’s a lack of public relations work for his team. “I understand you must do your job, and you must do what you do best, and show amazing quality boxing. And all these things, I think, are temporary,” said Lomachenko.

The boxing public would have liked to have seen Canelo challenge himself by taking on Beterbiev rather than Kovalev. Andre Ward called Canelo’s fight against Kovalev a “calculated risk.” But for Canelo facing Beterbiev, Ward says that would be a “stupid risk.” He understood what Canelo would have been up against had he selected Beterbiev, and he likely knows as well. Canelo could have picked Beterbiev and gotten a lot of respect from boxing fan, but he went with the calculated risk against Kovalev.

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