World middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 53-1-2 (36) annexed the WBO light heavyweight championship with a sensational 11th round knockout of reigning champion Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev 34-4-1 (29) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night.
The 29-year-old Mexican had to work hard for his victory, with Kovalev controlling much of the action with his superior jab and ring generalship.
In what was largely a strategic fight, the 36-year-old Russian veteran established control early in the contest with his left stick keeping the much shorter Alvarez on the outside.
Although Alvarez had moments of success, it was Kovalev who controlled the ring and the tempo for much of the bout.
The fight was close to even leading into the 11th round with judge Don Trella scoring the fight 95-95 while judges Dave Moretti and Julie Lederman both had it slightly wider at 96-94 before Alvarez dropped the hammer.
With Kovalev tiring, Alvarez landed a right to the temple before resetting to land a left hook power punch that left the champion reeling on unsteady legs.
A follow-up right hand delivered Kovalev to the canvas and referee Russell Mora waved off the fight at the 2:15 mark with the now former world champion draped over the second-from-bottom rope.
“This is just a step in my career, in my history,” Alvarez said.
“All I ask for is patience, because Canelo will make history, I guarantee.
“We knew there were going to be five or six rounds and it was going to take some time for me to get him.
“Much credit to him, he’s a great fighter, but we stuck to our gameplan. ‘It was delayed a little bit, but overall it was successful.”
Alvarez refused to rule out staying at light heavyweight, but stressed he wanted to keep his options open.
“The plan was to go down to 160, 168, but why not – maybe 175 again,” he said.
“We have to see what happens. We have to do what’s best for us. We have to look for the best fights, the big fights, but obviously give the victories to Mexico.”
“Much credit to him, he’s a great fighter, but we stuck to our gameplan. It was delayed a little bit, but overall it was successful.”
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