Monday, November 18, 2019

Pound-for-Pound Update 11-18-19

There have been numerous changes to the Saturday Night Boxing Pound-for-Pound list since the last update in July. Toward the top, Saul Alvarez defeated Sergey Kovalev via 11th round knockout to win a light heavyweight title. Alvarez has now won major belts in three different weight classes and he moves up in the Rankings from #5 to #2.

Errol Spence beat Shawn Porter via split decision to become a unified titlist at welterweight. With the win, Spence rises a spot from #9 to #8. 

In another unification bout, Artur Beterbiev knocked out Oleksandr Gvozdyk in the 10th round in a light heavyweight showdown. Beterbiev, now 15-0, has stopped all of his opponents in his professional career. He debuts in the Rankings at #9. 

Also making his debut on the Pound-for-Pound list is Josh Taylor, who defeated Regis Prograis by majority decision to win the World Boxing Super Series tournament at 140 lbs. He now holds two titles at junior welterweight. He enters the Rankings at #15. 

Dropping out of the Rankings are Roman Gonzalez, who leaves because of over a year of inactivity, and Wanheng Menayothin, who continues to win at strawweight, but has been eclipsed in the Rankings by other fighters. Gonzalez had previously been ranked at #15 and Menayothin at #20. 

Here is the updated Saturday Night Boxing Pound-for-Pound List. 
  1. Naoya Inoue
  2. Saul Alvarez 
  3. Vasiliy Lomachenko
  4. Terence Crawford
  5. Oleksandr Usyk
  6. Gennadiy Golovkin
  7. Juan Estrada
  8. Errol Spence
  9. Artur Beterbiev
  10. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
  11. Manny Pacquiao
  12. Mikey Garcia
  13. Donnie Nietes
  14. Kosei Tanaka
  15. Josh Taylor
  16. Leo Santa Cruz
  17. Miguel Berchelt
  18. Josh Warrington
  19. Daniel Roman
  20. Ken Shiro
Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of saturdaynightboxing.comHe's a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.   

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Opinions and Observations: Inoue-Donaire

Throughout Naoya Inoue's meteoric rise in boxing he had faced minimal resistance. He had won world titles at 108, 115 and 118 lbs., yet so few of his fights challenged him in the ring. Only two of his 18 bouts had even gone the distance. And this unprecedented run was not a mirage; he had defeated worthy opposition. He stopped Adrian Hernandez, who many ranked as the top guy at junior flyweight when they fought. Omar Narvaez was also ranked number one at junior bantamweight when they met in 2014. In addition Inoue beat credible contenders, titlists and future champs such as Ryoichi Taguchi, David Carmona, Kohei Kono, Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano and Emmanuel Rodriguez. In fact, bettering this solid slate of opponents propelled Inoue's rise to the elite in the sport. But where were the tough fights?  

Perhaps then it may have been surprising that Nonito Donaire, the old war horse at 36, who had lost two of his last five fights coming into Thursday's bout, was the first one to draw blood on Inoue. After all, Donaire's place in the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament seemed at first as nothing more than a cute publicity stunt, a nod to a former champ with name recognition whose best days were at least a half-decade behind him.  


Photo Courtesy of the World Boxing Super Series


Although some unforeseen circumstances (injuries and replacement fighters) led to Donaire reaching the tournament final, he quickly proved on Thursday that he wasn't there for a final career cash out; he was in Japan to win the whole damn thing. In the second round he detonated his patented counter left hook on Inoue's right eye. The shot immediately opened a cut and sent Inoue to the ropes in retreat. In an unfamiliar sight, Inoue was forced to clinch. I'm not sure that he had ever been hit with something so ferocious. Suddenly Inoue, The Monster, was human. 

Few fighters can force a Day of Reckoning like Donaire. He's been one of the elite power punchers in the sport over the last decade and will be able to roll out of bed when he's 80 years old and flatten someone with his left hook. 

And it wasn't just this one moment. In the eighth he landed a jarring counter right hand and Inoue was once again in trouble. His eye started bleeding all over the ring and Donaire was in the ascendancy.  

But in the 10th round Inoue demonstrated his championship mettle. With pulverizing right hands and left hooks, he turned the tables on Donaire, who needed the bell to save him from further damage. In the 11th Inoue cracked a left hook to the liver and as is often the case with that type of shot, the punch short-circuited Donaire. A delayed reaction occurred and Donaire was forced to take a knee. Somehow he was able to make it to his feet (some shoddy work from ref Ernie Sharif may have helped), but Donaire was in real trouble. The stoppage was close to arriving until he landed a left hook that made Inoue stop and recalibrate. It was that shot which enabled Donaire to see the end of the round, and subsequently make it to the final bell. 

In the end Inoue won by a unanimous decision, with scores of 117-109, 116-111 and 114-113 (I also had it 116-111). Ultimately, his more consistent work in the middle rounds of the fight and his strong close proved to be the difference. With the victory Inoue is now a unified titlist at bantamweight and the winner of the 2018-2019 World Boxing Super Series Tournament. 

Inoue faced his first real gut-check moment as a professional on Thursday. And despite experiencing the most extreme duress of his career, he was the one who swept the championship rounds, erasing any possible doubt as to who deserved to be the victor. This fight turned out to be the final test in his development. Sure, we knew about his blazing hand speed, crushing power and pinpoint accuracy, but could he catch? He has now answered that question in the affirmative.

Inoue-Donaire highlighted the best that boxing has to offer: world-class punching, elite-level skills, wonderful ebbs and flows, tactical adjustments, and respect being earned in the ring. Both fighters were hurt at multiple points in the fight – Donaire in the 5th, 10th and 11th and Inoue in the 2nd, 8th and 9th. Each took turns leading and countering. Both displayed menacing firepower. It was thrilling to watch, exhilarating, the type of fight that reaffirms boxing fans' love for the sport. 

In the aftermath of Thursday's result it's natural to ask questions of Inoue. Was he a tad overrated or did his performance highlight even additional dimensions to his all-around boxing ability? I fall in the latter camp. Inoue faced an excellent version of Donaire, the one who was once among the best in the sport.

Since aligning with trainer Kenny Adams, Donaire has rediscovered many of his former dimensions. He took his right hand out of storage, and with wonderful results. He looked comfortable leading. Donaire wasn't plodding along, waiting, waiting, and waiting for an opening to land his left hook. No, he was using all of his weapons, not only to capitalize on mistakes, but also to create his own openings. Overall it was his most well-rounded performance since his stoppage of Toshiaki Nishioka in 2012. 

Since that victory seven years ago Donaire would rise and fall. He had periods where he had lost his passion for the sport. He made several trainer switches. He developed some bad habits in the ring. But on Thursday it was like old times. Here, in the winter of his career, he had suddenly found himself, and he was going for broke against one of the best fighters in boxing.  

After the fight Inoue showered Donaire with praise and admitted that there were still areas to improve for future fights. To my eyes there are two places in particular where Inoue needs to focus: His head is a little still, which makes him able to be countered by a capable craftsman. In addition, he does spend an extra second or two in the pocket admiring his own work. He's used to seeing opponents crumble from his power shots. Yet some foes have the beard to take shots and throw some in return. Inoue wasn't expecting to get hit by some of Donaire's blows; he's going to have to learn to respect his opponents a little bit more in the ring. 

But all of that is fine for another day. Ultimately, Inoue demonstrated yet again that he is can't miss television. With guns blazing in his fists and possessing the heart and determination to overcome adversity, his total package has few rivals among active fighters. And with his new deal with Top Rank, expect American boxing audiences to fall for the Japanese dynamo. 

As for Donaire, whether he decides to call it quits after Thursday's fight or if he continues to soldier on, he has once again reminded boxing fans of his greatness. From 2007-2013 he truly was one of the elite in the sport. He certainly was a devastating puncher, but at his best he was much more than that. He had intelligence, ring savvy, a multiplicity of skills and a rock-solid chin. His record of 40-6 doesn't even begin to do him justice.  

At the age of 26 Inoue is squarely in his prime. He has the pedigree in the ring, the media platform and the potential opponents at 118 to 122 lbs. to become a commanding figure in the sport. But threats abound, from the technical savvy of Nordine Oubaali to the straight left of Zolani Tete to the crushing punching power of Luis Nery. Inoue is now in the thick of a great run of opponents and expect that trend to continue. He believes in the concept of risk. And while he may or may not emerge as the definitive fighter of this era, he certainly wants to find out in the ring. He demands challenges. He chases greatness. And that should make us all happy campers. 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of saturdaynightboxing.comHe's a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
Email: saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com.
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.   

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Opinions and Observations: Canelo-Kovalev

Five punches in the 11th round ended Canelo-Kovalev: Canelo ripped a left hook to the side of the upper rib cage. He followed with a right to the body (this punch only partially landed). Canelo then cracked Kovalev with an overhand right that staggered Kovalev. Immediately after feeling that shot, Kovalev tried to evade danger by moving to his right, away from Canelo's right hand. Canelo reset and followed Kovalev. He then landed with a blistering left hook to the head, which scrambled Kovalev's senses and left him unable to defend himself properly. 

Canelo now had his golden opportunity, a free shot, and he connected with a powerful short right hand; the punch was so vicious that it turned Kovalev 180 degrees. Kovalev collapsed to the canvas, his body facing the crowd, slung through the ropes. Referee Russell Mora didn't even initiate a count. It was all over. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez had moved up two weight classes to become a light heavyweight champion. And with that thrilling finish, with that masterful five-punch sequence, the mediocrity of the previous ten rounds was almost forgotten. 


Photo Courtesy of Amanda Westcott

Until that final sequence, Canelo-Kovalev was a poor advertisement for top-class prizefighting. Certainly those from broadcaster DAZN, who had delayed the main event by more than 90 minutes as they waited for a UFC fight in New York to finish, couldn't have been pleased with the display. Canelo was after all their signature boxer, and Canelo-Kovalev in the ring was the opposite of compelling sports entertainment. 

Most of the fight played out as an exercise in futility. It was Kovalev generally missing jabs against Canelo's ineffective aggression. Scoring the bout was essentially academic; neither was performing at a particularly high level. Few real risks were taken. Little was memorable prior to the exhilarating finish. 

Although one could make the argument that Canelo was gradually wearing down Kovalev throughout the fight, he had landed so little of substance. Yes, there were a couple of significant hooks and straight right hands, but the pace was so deliberate and the punches landed were so sparse. Perhaps a better argument could be made that Kovalev wore himself down. He hadn't faced a lot of menacing fire throughout the fight and Canelo's pressure was often more theoretical than actualized. 

It was unsettling to see Kovalev, formerly one of the most devastating punchers in the sport, fight in safety-first mode, reluctant to exchange. His offensive output mostly consisted of hundreds of jabs thrown half-heartedly. Kovalev does possess one of the most damaging sticks in the sport, but those punches were left at home on Saturday. He pawed with his jab instead of snapping it. Kovalev's main objective it seemed was to use his reach advantage to keep Canelo at bay, not necessarily to hurt him or impose himself physically on the fight. 


Photo courtesy of Amanda Westcott

The ending of the bout helped to explain Kovalev's cautious performance during the match. He could no longer trust his chin or defensive reflexes. Kovalev's damage control started in round one, long before any actual damage had occurred. There were some moments in the seventh, ninth and tenth rounds where he did unfurl additional elements of his offensive arsenal – uppercuts, left hooks and jabs to the body, but those sequences were exceptions. Even after having success, he returned to his undercooked jabs, careful to avoid exchanges.  

It's never easy to defeat a competent fighter who is in safety-first mode. As a result Canelo had difficulty in establishing a sustained offense. Certainly it's a difficult proposition moving up two weight classes to beat a guy with numerous physical advantages. That proposition becomes even more complicated when the opponent provides so few openings, but Canelo was finally able to make his own luck in the 11th.  

After the match, Canelo admitted that the fight played out similarly to his intended game plan, although it may have taken a few more rounds than anticipated. And I believe him. From the opening bell his approach was crystal clear: slowly get into range; don't get caught up in a blistering pace; land enough varieties of power punches to keep Kovalev guessing; and take Kovalev into the second half of the fight, where his energy level and defensive responsibility would wane. Although it wasn't pretty to watch, the game plan would eventually work to perfection. 

Canelo might not get credit from all boxing corners for Saturday's victory, but make no mistake, it was a significant accomplishment, and perhaps the signature moment of his career. Yes, perhaps Kovalev was there for the taking, but Canelo actually had to do the taking, and he executed.  


Photo Courtesy of Amanda Westcott

Throughout his career Sergey Kovalev hasn't always been given appropriate credit for his high Ring IQ, which is a notable oversight from those who cover the sport (myself included). At his best he wasn't just knocking fighters out; he controlled them. He disciplined them in the ring. He rarely lost rounds or had competitive fights. He featured tremendous power and had a fantastic understanding of ring generalship. 

He gave Canelo very little to work with on Saturday, and that was by design. He drained almost all excitement from the fight, a credit to him and trainer Buddy McGirt. They were there to stink out the fight. Sure, it's an awful style to watch, but it was effective enough for the official scorecards to be very close going into the championship rounds (Canelo was up by two rounds on two cards and even on the third, many scoring at home had Kovalev up.)  

Despite Kovalev's competitiveness on Saturday, he should now be considering retirement. Knocked out three times in recent years by two non-punchers and a fighter coming up from middleweight, the writing's on the wall. He's had a notable career, perhaps one that will lead him to the Hall of Fame. For a while he was one of boxing's supreme destroyers and ranked high on pound-for-pound lists. He was able to regain title belts after devastating defeats, a reminder to those who insist that he is mentally fragile. In his last run he confidently outboxed a fighter (Eleider Alvarez) who had wrecked him in his previous fight. That was a high-character performance in the ring. But now it's time, and I hope that he makes the right decision to hang it up. 

Although it's easy to fixate on Canelo's baggage, such as generous hometown scorecards, his utilization of catchweights, waiting out opponents and failing drug tests (and these issues shouldn't be ignored), his talents and positive contributions to boxing are manifold. Those who object to his status in the sport may have legitimate reasons to do so, but in the ring there should no longer be any question about his considerable abilities. He has faced many of the best talents in the sport and with only one exception (Mayweather) he has fought them all on at least close-to-equal terms or better. He continues to improve and has demonstrated a robust boxing aptitude. 

Canelo's versatility and adaptability are special characteristics. He's defeated supposedly faster fighters like Austin Trout and Daniel Jacobs in the center of the ring. He was able to track down a runner like Erislandy Lara. His countering off the ropes was enough to give Gennadiy Golovkin pause in their first fight. He slugged it out with Golovkin during the rematch. He toppled Kovalev as a pressure fighter.

Comfortable leading or countering, stationary or using his legs, in the center of the ring or along the ropes, Canelo has succeeded using all of these modalities, a feat that so few in boxing could claim. Lead trainer Eddy Reynoso has developed Canelo into a complete fighter, And imagine how difficult it must be for opponents to prepare for him. Which Canelo? And what style? 

Furthermore, Canelo isn't even necessarily an exceptional athlete. He doesn't have the hand or foot speed of Crawford or Lomachenko. Although powerful, he lacks the one-punch destructiveness of Inoue. Yet here he is making a claim as the top fighter in the sport with so few of the physical dimensions that many elites possess. That he is even in the conversation speaks to his incredible Ring IQ, his ability to follow and execute vastly different game plans, his large punch arsenal and his all-around skill set as a fighter.


Photo courtesy of Amanda Westcott

What's next for Canelo will be the ultimate parlor game during the next few months. He has three divisions to work with and drives the bus in the sport. Any top fighter from 160 to 175 lbs. could be in play. And while it's an absurd thought that he would take on a killer such as Artur Beterbiev, who would have predicted earlier this year that he would be challenging and knocking out titlists at light heavyweight? 

In an era where so many fighters seem perfectly comfortable with their marginal place in the sport – hey, I have a belt; hey, I make six-figures a fight – it’s refreshing that Canelo rejects the notion of stasis and complacency. He wants to push the bounds of what's possible for him. He believes in the concept of risk. He understands that he plays a large role in pushing the sport forward. And although this can be a large burden, he not only accepts this responsibility, but wants it. This is now the Canelo Era of boxing, and he has earned the distinction.

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of saturdaynightboxing.comHe's a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
Email: saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com.
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.   

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Canelo-Kovalev: Keys to the Fight

Every now and then boxing provides its fans with a delightful surprise. At the beginning of 2019 much of the chatter regarding Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) centered on a potential third fight against middleweight rival Gennadiy Golovkin. Meanwhile, Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) had recently been knocked out by Eleider Alvarez, and there was concern that the end of his career was fast approaching. 

Yet 10 months later the boxing landscape looks vastly different. Teaming with trainer Buddy McGirt, Kovalev avenged his defeat to Alvarez, turning in one of his strongest performances in recent memory. With the win Kovalev regained his light heavyweight belt. Later in the year he defeated unbeaten prospect Anthony Yarde. As for Canelo, in May he won a decision over Daniel Jacobs, one of the best fighters at middleweight, but following the fight he declined to face Golovkin for a third time. 

Canelo is in the middle of a staggering financial deal with DAZN worth over $250M and the executives at the network wanted a big fight for him in the second half of 2019. From out of the blue Alvarez floated Kovalev as a possible opponent, despite Sergey fighting two divisions north of him at 175 lbs. While few took Canelo's initial suggestion seriously, by the end of the summer this potential matchup started to gather steam. After Kovalev dispatched Yarde via 11th round stoppage, pen was soon put to paper and Canelo-Kovalev became a reality. They face each other on Saturday at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas in what is one of the more compelling matchups of the year.  


Canelo and Kovalev size each other up
Photo Courtesy of Amanda Westcott


Although few boxing fans clamored for this particular fight, Canelo-Kovalev certainly contains vast amounts of intrigue: Does Canelo's punch play up at 175? Can his chin withstand the Krusher's big right hands? Is Kovalev's recent form the new normal for him, or is he still a knockout waiting to happen? And, can anybody win a close fight on the scorecards against Canelo? 

All of these factors set up what should be an engrossing fight on Saturday. Canelo features flashy shots and will have the crowd support. Kovalev's jab may be the absolute best in the sport, and he hits harder than any opponent that Canelo has faced in his career. There certainly is much to consider, but what factors are the most significant in evaluating Saturday's fight and what is merely window dressing? Read below for the keys to the fight. My prediction will be at the end of the article. 

1. Can Canelo hurt Kovalev?

In recent years Kovalev has been stopped by Andre Ward and Eleider Alvarez. Interestingly, neither was a particularly big puncher at the weight, but they did have enough power to cause damage. We've all seen Kovalev vulnerable in the ring before. He takes rounds to recover after being hurt. He loses his poise. Under duress he hasn't always made the right decisions, such as holding or buying time. 

All of the above is true, but if Canelo can't hit hard enough at light heavyweight then a major path to victory is unavailable for him. In 2018 Canelo stopped super middleweight Rocky Fielding in the third round, which was evidence that his power can play above middleweight. However, let's not confuse Fielding with a top-level guy. And also, it's another seven pounds higher from Fielding to the light heavyweight limit. It's far from certain if Canelo has enough power at 175 lbs.

In the lead up to Saturday's fight Canelo has talked about how he added significant weight training for this training camp. It will be fascinating to see whether his best power punches will be able to make a dent in Kovalev, either physically or psychologically. 

2. Canelo's chin.

One of Canelo's best strengths throughout his career has been his chin. Not only has it enabled him to stay upright against big punchers such as Golovkin and Jacobs, but it provides him with confidence in the ring. For instance, a fighter who doesn't believe in his chin would never try to slug it out for 12 rounds like Alvarez did in his second fight with Golovkin. Canelo's faith in his chin allows him to stand in the pocket and trade, to not fear big shots. 

Kovalev didn't just receive the "Krusher" moniker because of its alliterative properties; he earned it. With a heavy right hand and a spear of a jab, every punch he throws can be damaging. Sure, Canelo's chin has been sturdy throughout his career, but it may never have been tested to the degree in which it might on Saturday. If Kovalev's firepower proves to be too much for Canelo to remain in the pocket, we'll have a much different fight on our hands, and one that will tilt in Kovalev's favor.  

3. The pace of the fight. 

Kovalev needs a Goldilocks pace to win the fight in my opinion. If he's not busy enough Canelo can flurry a couple of times a round, have the crowd ooh and aah, and win one of his patented close and debatable decisions. But if Kovalev is too busy, he runs the risk of burning himself out in the second half of the fight; his endurance hasn't been his strongest attribute. In addition, a high activity level for Kovalev might provide Canelo, a master counterpuncher, with perhaps too many opportunities to hurt him. Kovalev will have a difficult assignment in setting his preferred pace. My guess is that somewhere between 40-50 punches a round will do the trick, but above that range would not be ideal. 

As for Canelo, he has fought with almost relentless urgency against Golovkin in their second fight and at other times he has turned in almost lethargic performances in close victories over Daniel Jacobs and Austin Trout. Canelo often fights with the assumption that the close rounds will go his way. And while events have supported his belief to this point of his career, it's a fine line that he walks. Kovalev will be busy; he'll be sticking a jab in Canelo's face. Taking a leisurely stroll in the park will not be enough for Canelo to win this fight; one can't always assume that the judges will be generous. 

4. Kovalev's jab. 

The best punch in the fight will be Kovalev's jab. At the advanced age of 36 Kovalev has now realized that he can win a lot of rounds with essentially just his jab. The punch is fast, accurate and hard. In addition, Kovalev does seem a little more patient and relaxed in the ring under McGirt; instead of trying to decapitate opponents with every punch Kovalev has started to understand the philosophy of putting points on the board. Setting aside some of his machismo from his earlier years, Kovalev now seems comfortable winning rounds by keeping it simple. If the opponent can't adjust, then he'll continue to land with the stick, and perhaps most importantly, Kovalev has accepted this style of fighting. 

There of course runs a real risk of Kovalev jabbing too much against Canelo. If one provides a great counterpuncher with the same look too often, the counterpuncher will find a way to punish. No doubt that Kovalev's jab will be a factor early in the fight, but a fighter as skilled as Alvarez will be able to get around it at points in the fight. He can time it, counter it, leave the pocket, move to his left toward Kovalev's right hand – there are a number of ways to neutralize a jab. So, yes, Kovalev will need to jab, but if he relies on the punch too frequently, that could lead to additional problems. Kovalev must incorporate his entire arsenal, even if sparingly. That will go a long way to keeping Alvarez honest in the fight.  

5. Kovalev's kryptonite. (And it's not what you think.)

The conventional wisdom suggests that the way to beat Kovalev is to break him down to the body. And since Canelo can be such a great body puncher...1 + 1 has to equal 2, doesn't it? Well, yes, to a degree. Certainly Kovalev doesn't react to body shots particularly well. His comportment at times can be awful after body shots and perhaps most importantly he stops being offensive after an opponent has success with him downstairs. 

But consider that in the two times Kovalev has been knocked out it's been the overhand right, or the right hand over the top, that has caused him the most trouble. Remember that Ward's punishing right hand in the second fight was the punch that started the real problems for Kovalev. The body shots might have been the icing, but the cake was Ward's pulverizing right. In the first Eleider Alvarez fight, Kovalev was caught by surprise from a lead overhand right. This shot caused the first knockdown of the fight and was essentially the beginning of the end for Kovalev that night. 

Fortunately for Canelo, he possesses such a right hand. That was the punch that knocked down Austin Trout. He also landed the shot memorably against James Kirkland and Amir Khan. In truth Canelo's body punching could very well lead to the opening for the right hand. A concerted body attack might cause Kovalev to drop his hands ever so slightly, making opportunities to land to the head more readily available. 

Prediction: 

Make no mistake: Canelo is going to have to earn this one. Kovalev will win the early rounds of the fight. He will get off first with his jab and use his legs to avoid prolonged exchanges. His decisive jabs and one-two combos will give him a comfortable lead on the scorecards. 

But my guess is that Canelo will be willing to sacrifice some rounds to get his range. Although Kovalev can dominate opponents with his jab, eventually top fighters have been able to overcome that punch, either on the inside or the outside. It will be a matter of time before Canelo makes adjustments and starts to land his power shots. 

I believe that this fight will resemble the second Andre Ward fight, where Kovalev built an early lead with his considerable boxing skills, and like Ward, Alvarez will eventually turn the tide with something hard that catches Kovalev off guard. My guess is that a lead overhand right or a left hook to the body/overhand right combo will start the damage. Once Kovalev is hurt, Alvarez will move in for the finish and will unload with his best body shots and combinations. And he will have enough firepower to get the stoppage. 

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez KO 10 Sergey Kovalev 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of saturdaynightboxing.comHe's a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
Email: saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com.
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.