A dull fight for fans, a great fight for Canelo
By Richard E. Baker on November 7, 2019
“The plan overall was patience, that was basically it—to have patience.” (Richard E. Baker)
So now it is time for the big show. Kovalev works his way through the hostile crowd. He looks a bit like Joe Louis ready to fight Rocky Marciano: whenever he bends over his balding head shows. He looks fit, as always, and ready to go. Canelo Alvarez is greeted with cheers. He is the Mexican hero. The size difference is obvious. Alvarez resembles the middleweight he is.
At the bell, Kovalev is on the move. The action is slow. Whatever occurs is initiated by by the big Russian. Kovalev throws almost all jabs. He is one of the best jabbers in the business. Canelo keeps balled up. He is in the classic peek-a-boo style. He throws almost no punches. He looks slow. Perhaps the weight of Kovalev is too much. Already Alvarez’s right eye is puffy.
The fight goes from slow to almost non-existent with Kovalev jabbing and Alvarez covering. The crowd is anxious. They paid for action. Catcalls and boos flow above the ring like a fart in a punchbowl. All the energy put into promoting the fight does not transfer into the ring. Alvarez still refuses to throw any meaningful blows. Several things might account for this. Kovalev is old for a fighter. Perhaps Alvarez is taking him to the deep end. That is likely given what is happening. He is too smart to change his plans because of the fans and he is too decent a fighter to be outclassed. Whatever blows he lands are often left hooks. If Kovalev is not careful he will get caught with one.
There are good and bad fights for fans. There are good and bad fights for boxers. Sometimes there are bad fights for fans, but good fights for boxers. This is one of those fights. Canelo is out to win. He does not mind giving away rounds to reach his goal. He is not distracted by the crowd, even by the people who paid $1700 for a ticket. He is after something bigger—another title.
My attention is drawn to the ring girls, especially Yohanna Vargas. She is a bundle of motion. She can move her feet in one direction, her butt in another, her body from side to side, her arms jerking the round card up and down, and still manage to wave at the crowd with her smaller fingers.
By round 8 the fight starts to be more competitive. Alvarez starts to throw a few body shots. Several times Kovalev winches. He has always been susceptible to body blows. The fight now starts to even out. If Kovalev does well in the last two rounds he will retain the championship. Oh, those terrible “ifs.”
Toward the end of the 11th round, Kovalev slightly drops his right hand. Wham! An Alvarez left followed by a right KOs Kovalev while he is still on his feet. The referee stops the fight almost before he hits the canvas. He falls into a deep sleep and for a moment is back in Mother Russia, cool snowflakes falling on his face while Alvarez soaks up the sun of another title.
The punches were tremendous, the left starting from Mexico followed by a New York right. Kovalev hangs on the ropes before dripping to the canvas for five minutes. He is really out. Alvarez, concerned, stands above him to be sure he is OK. Kovalev starts to come around. Everything is fine—except for losing the title.
A third fight with Triple G is in order. In spite of the draw in their first fight, GGG won. Alvarez closely won the second. Although it is time to settle the dispute, Alvarez is not inclined to take the fight.
Kovalev said, “I was tired after round 6, because I had my last fight very close to this one, but it’s okay, it’s a new experience for me. Canelo is really a great champion. A little bit right now, I didn’t recover from my last fight. But it’s okay. Thanks for the fight Canelo, I have big respect for him. He made history.”
He felt he should have opened his body less and to use more jabs, more safe. I’ll be back. I’ll be back much stronger.”
He is not discouraged. “I know that I can be a unified champion, let’s make a unification fight. But nobody wants to fight me in my division. This guy is more fresh, he came into my division more fresh. He has more stamina, but it’s okay, it’s a good experience for me.”
Canelo said “I’m very thankful. This is just a step in my career, in my history, and all I ask of you, is to be patient because Canelo will make history. That’s a guarantee.”
He knew the fight might not have been his most exciting. “The plan overall was patience, that was basically it—to have patience. We knew it was going to be five, six rounds and it was going to take some time for me to get him. But honestly he’s a great fighter. I’m new at this weight, new in this division. Much credit to him, he’s a great fighter, but we stuck to our game plan. It was delayed a little bit but overall it was successful.”
He also thought the fight was difficult because, “He was defensive, he was closing up his guard. All he was doing was trying to establish points, but we knew what was coming. Inevitably it would come, and everything came out the way we had planned.”
He knows there is continued talk about fighting GGG again. “It’s really not a challenge to me. We’ve fought 24 rounds and I beat him. It’s really not a challenge for me, but if it represents business, why not?”