It’s been almost two weeks since Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev met in a ring in Las Vegas in what fight fans had hoped would be a dramatic and memorable duel. On paper, it at least figured to be interesting. After all, while Kovalev was undeniably past his prime, he was also the naturally bigger man and he figured to be the more powerful puncher. And while most observers and pundits were picking the Mexican to win, most were also envisioning a potentially tough battle.
But instead of offering much in the drama and action departments, when the main event finally happened after a pointless delay back on November 2nd, Canelo vs Kovalev instead gave us something less than gripping or eventful. Indeed, the crowd at the MGM Grand booed the lack of fireworks at several points as Saul and Sergey jousted on tepid terms for long stretches, neither fighter anxious to take risks and give the fans a show.
More to the point, and to the surprise of many, it was the Russian who appeared to lack the needed strength and energy to stand up to the smaller man, who didn’t fight like one. Indeed, the supposedly “blown up” middleweight appeared much the stronger of the two as he tamed Kovalev with relative ease and imposed his will round after round until the sudden and explosive knockout in round eleven.
And immediately after, the dominant narrative for what transpired that night in Las Vegas focused not on Canelo, but Kovalev, on his age, the lack of time to properly prepare, and the hope that now he might retire. In other words, what we saw had nothing to do with Canelo’s superior skill and brilliant game plan, but instead was all about Kovalev now being a ruin of the formidable warrior who had humbled Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal.
And just recently, Sergey himself reinforced this perspective with a video in which he informed everyone that the short turnaround after his tough fight with Anthony Yarde in August guaranteed he wouldn’t be properly prepared and able to compete. Kovalev even went so far as to call anyone who thought he could win on November 2nd an “ignoramus,” a statement sure to delight people like Buddy McGirt and Kathy Duva.
But is any of this really accurate? More to the point, is it fair to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who in his post-fight interview said the contest unfolded exactly as he had planned? One person who likely thinks not is analyst Lee Wylie who immediately after the bout praised the Mexican’s performance as “a masterclass on educated pressure and round management.” And to further bring home the point that the result was less about Kovalev’s decline and more about Canelo’s pacing and clever tactics, he created a new video to illustrate precisely what he saw and appreciated in the Mexican’s performance.
Because the end result is, no matter what Kovalev says, a longer training camp likely would have made little to no difference. Canelo was the boss on November 2nd, in control, from the first bell to the crushing KO in round eleven. Canelo was the captain in that ring, the commander, the killer. And Lee Wylie is more than happy to show you exactly why and how that was. Check it out: