WBO light heavyweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 52-1-2 (36) has credited his patience for his victory over Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev 34-4-1 (29) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night.
The 29-year-old Mexican superstar moved up two weight classes from middleweight to challenge Kovalev, knocking him out in the 11th round of a close fight.
At the time of the stoppage Alvarez was leading 96-94 on two of the judges’ scorecards, while the third judge had the fight even at 95-95.
“The plan overall was patience, that was basically it – to have patience,” Alvarez said. “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.
“It was a very close fight because he was defensive, he was closing up his guard. All he was doing was try to establish points, but we knew what was coming. Inevitably it would come, and everything came out the way we had planned.”
Statistics provided by CompuBox had Alvarez landing 133 of 345 punches (39%) and the much busier Kovalev landing 115 of 745 (15%). The Russian veteran threw a career-high 577 jabs, landing 63.
The 36-year-old Kovalev dismissed talk of retirement despite being stopped in two of his past four bouts.
“I’ll be back. I’ll be back much stronger,” Kovalev said. “I know that I can be a unified champion. Nobody wants to fight me in my division. This guy [Alvarez] is more fresh. He came into my division more fresh. He has more stamina, but it’s OK. It’s a good experience for me.”
As for Alvarez’s next move, he says he is open to new challenges.
“[After this] the plan was to go down to 160, 165, 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.”
A third fight with Gennady Golovkin – who Alvarez has a draw and a points win against – seems unlikely.
“It’s really not a challenge to me. We’ve fought 24 rounds and I beat him,” Alvarez said. “It’s really not a challenge for me, but if it represents business, why not?”
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