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Canelo stops Kovalev in Las Vegas Thriller

Canelo could face a third bout with Gennady Golovkin or unify the light heavyweight titles against Artur Beterbiev

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Canelo Alvarez has become the WBO light heavyweight champion after victory over Sergey Kovalev Credit: DAZN USA
Canelo Alvarez has become the WBO light heavyweight champion after victory over Sergey Kovalev Credit: DAZN USA

Canelo Alvarez made history last night by knocking out Sergey Kovalev in the 11th round of their main event in Las Vegas to win the WBO light heavyweight championship in his debut to the division.

Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) moved up two weight classes to battle Kovalev (34-4-1, 29 KOs) in his successful bid to become the first fighter in history to hold world titles in three divisions at once. The Mexican is the unified middleweight champion, a 168-pound titleholder and now a champion at 175-pounds. 

Alvarez also becomes only the fourth Mexican boxer to win titles in four weight classes.

Nobody said it would be easy and the Russian gave the sport’s biggest global star plenty of problems before succumbing to a savage left hook-straight right combination to the head that left him crumpled on the ropes in the eleventh round. 

Kovalev fought a very technical fight behind a pawing jab, where he used his 4-inch height and reach advantage to keep the smaller Alvarez at bay. Alvarez showed tremendous poise in patiently stalking his opponent while looking to close the distance and land those patented body shots. 

Kovalev had his moments but fell to a vicious 11th round KO Credit: DAZN USA
Kovalev had his moments but fell to a vicious 11th round KO Credit: DAZN USA

In fact, Kovalev’s very disciplined approach was so successful that it became a tightly contested fight that could have gone either way up to the dramatic ending. 

Despite initial concerns about his stamina, the 36-year old ‘Krusher’ appeared to be in superb conditioning and showed no signs of slowing down as he continuously pumped the jab throughout the entire fight. 

Canelo asserted himself by pushing his foe back and landing hard body shots in the 6th round onwards. He increasingly became the aggressor as the fight progressed despite being the smaller man while Kovalev appeared content to return to his foundation – the jab. 

The outcome would have been an utter mystery if this one would have gone to the scorecards but Canelo took that option away from the judges with his vicious combination in the 11th that forced Referee Russell Mora to instantly wave off the action at 2:15. 

Judges Dave Moratti and Julie Lederman had Alvarez leading 96-94 at the time of the stoppage, while Don Trella had it even at 95-95. 

Alvarez was pressed yet again about a trilogy with Gennady Golovkin after the fight and seemed to change his tune after months of dismissing his middleweight rival, who gave him hell in their prequels. 

“I have said it before. He’s really not a challenge for me as I fought him and beat him for 24 rounds,” Alvarez said. “But [if it does business] and the people want to do it again, we can do it.”

Interestingly, Alvarez has expressed interest in facing another dangerous fighter in newly-crowned IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev just prior to the Kovalev fight. As impressive as Alvarez was tonight, it remains to be seen whether he’ll actually take that fight. 

Canelo could be set for a trilogy with Gennady Golovkin Credit: Bad Left Hook
Canelo could be set for a trilogy with Gennady Golovkin Credit: Bad Left Hook

One thing we know for certain is the pro-Alvarez crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena witnessed something special as they watched their champion make a powerful case for the top pound-for-pound spot. 

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