Canelo KO's Kovalev in 11
Newly crowned WBO light heavyweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) scored a crushing knockout in the eleventh round in dethroning Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (34-4-1, 29 KOs) of Russia, Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. As expected the taller Kovalev jabbed from the start as Canelo slipped the jab and pawed then closed the opening round landing a hard left hook followed by a left hook to the body. The second round saw Canelo dig downstairs as Kovalev pumped the jab and fought from a distance. Canelo started round three connecting with an overhand right as Kovalev kept using the jab, Alvarez countered with a solid left hook but the Russian continued to work. Alvarez began the fourth landing solidly, and stalked the jabbing Kovalev as Canelo was cautious in the process.The fifth round saw Canelo tag Kovalev with the left hook to the body off a counter but Kovalev's reach continued to be key for the Russian.
At the halfway point in the sixth, Kovalev's jab continued to be the choice as Canelo stalked throughout the round and went to the body. Past the halfway mark in the seventh round, the champ continued to work the jab as Canelo landed a short right hand inside getting Kovalev's attention. The Mexican superstar appeared to be frustrated in the eighth as Canelo swung wildly and missed, Kovalev's jab was the key.
Canelo continued to swing and miss with wild punches in the ninth as Kovalev's jab was consistent. Late in the fight in the tenth round Canelo landed an overhand right as Kovalev pity patted his punches, the Mexican closed the round strong landing a solid right and body shots. A left hook by Canelo in the eleventh staggered Kovalev as he followed up with a crushing right 2:15 dropping and knocking out Kovalev as referee Russel Mora immediately waived it at 2:15 of the eleventh.
Here is what both had to say in their post fight interview.
“I’m very thankful. This is just a step in my career, in my history, and all I ask of you, is to be patient because Canelo will make history. That’s a guarantee.”
“The plan overall was patience, that was basically it - to have patience. 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 trying to establish points, but we knew what was coming. Inevitably it would come, and everything came out the way we had planned.”
“[After this] the plan was to go down to 160, 165, but why not – maybe 175 again.”
“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.”
On GGG: “It’s really not a challenge to me. We’ve fought 24 rounds and I beat him. It’s really not a challenge for me, but if it represents business, why not?”
“I was tired after round 6, because I had my last fight very close to this one, but it’s okay, it’s a new experience for me. Canelo is really a great champion. A little bit right now, I didn’t recover from my last fight. But it’s okay. Thanks for the fight Canelo, I have big respect for him. He made history.”
“To open my body less, I had to use more jabs, more safe. I’ll be back. I’ll be back much stronger.”
“I know that I can be a unified champion, let’s make a unification fight. But nobody wants to fight me in my division. This guy is more fresh, he came into my division more fresh. He has more stamina, but it’s okay, it’s a good experience for me.”
Lightweight Ryan Garcia (19-0, 16 KOs) of Victorville, California made a statement in scoring a first round knockout over"Ruthless" Romero Duno (21-2, 16 KOs) of the Philippines in the co-feature bout. The Filipino Duno came out aggressive but a left hook to the temple by Garcia did it as he sent Duno to the canvas staggered forcing the referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight 1:38 of the first.
The ladies settled their grudge as Seniesa "Superbad" Estrada (18-0, 7 KOs) of East Los Angeles, California and Marlen Esparza (7-1, 1 KOs) of Houston, Texas clashed for the vacant Interim WBA Flyweight Title. Off to a fast start Estrada and Esparza went right at each other letting their hands go. Trading in the center in round two Esparza landed some big shots as Estrada countered and use her hand speed. Esparza kept her punches compact in round three as Esparza continued to counter and use her hand speed. Estrada countered effectively in the fourth as it appeared that Esparza was tiring. The 2016 U.S. Olympian, Esparza suffered a nasty cut on her hairline in the fifth from a clash of heads as Estrada boxed and kept her distance.
Halfway through the in the sixth Estrada continued to box and landed some good punches as the cut on Esparza continued to bleed. Continuing to bleed from her forehead in the seventh, Esparza seemed fatigued as Estrada kept her rhythm and boxed well. Estrada was the fresher of the two in the eighth landing good shots and countering as Esparza could not get going and seemed very sluggish. It was all Estrada in the later rounds as she boxed confidently. Estrada did not make it to the final bell as the cut was too much and the fight was stopped at the end of the ninth.
After completing nine rounds they went to the scorecards as the judges scored the bout 90-80, 89-82, and 88-83 as Senisia pulls off a technical decision.
Up and coming welterweight prospect Blair “The Flair” Cobbs (13-0-1, 9 KOs) of Las Vegas stopped Carlos Ortiz (11-5, 11 KOs) of Torreon, Mexico. Flashing away off to a fast start Cobbs was busy until a short hook to the head staggered Cobbs causing his glove to touch the canvas as he was down. Past the halfway point in the sixth, Cobbs returned the favor and sent Ortiz to the canvas.Ortiz finished the round but could not continue as the referee waved off the bout at the end of six.
Super welterweight Evan Holyfield (1-0, 1 KO), the son of legendary Hall of Famer and former world champion Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield, made his professional debut a quick study, scoring a 16 second knockout over Nick Winstead (0-2)
Russian junior middleweight prospect Bakhram Murtazaliev (17-0, 13 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Jorge Fortea (20-2-1, 6 KOs) of Spain in an IBF eliminator bout. It was a slow paced opening round as Murtazaliev and Fortea jabbed feeling each other out. Fortea suffered a slight cut on the eye in round two as Murtazaliev attacked. Applying pressure in round three, Murtazaliev stalked Fortea and targeted the cut. The cut appeared to be sustained in the fourth as Fortea fought on.
The fifth round saw the Russian backing Fortea. In the sixth, Fortea held his ground as he stood and traded with Murtazaliev. Past the halfway point in the seventh Murtazaliev boxed as Fortea attacked looking to get inside. Working the jab and fighting from a distance in the eighth, Murtazaliev was in control as Fortea looked desperate.
Late in the fight, Murtazaliev worked the jab and then connected with a hard left hook to the head that staggered Fortea. The championship rounds, Murtazaliev fought conservative as Fortea pressed sensing the urgency.
Scores were 120-108, 119-109, 118-110.
Cruiserweight prospect Tristan Kalkreuth (3-0, 2 KOs) of Duncanville, Texas won a unanimous decision over Twon Smith (3-4, 2 KOs) of Oklahoma. Kalkreuth applied the pressure early as he connected solidly in the opening round, backing Smith to the ropes. The tall and rangy, Kalkreuth kept his distance landing the straight right hand multiple times. Working the jab and keeping his distance Kalkreuth controlled the pace but Smith got his shot in the third. The fourth and final round saw Kalkreuth mix it up and work inside as Smith exchanged with him and connected. Judges scores were 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37.
In the opening bout from MGM Grand in Las Vegas Kazakh middleweight Meiirim Nursultanov (13-0, 8 KOs) pitched a shutout in winning a unanimous decision over Cristian Olivas (16-6, 13 KOs) of Mexicali, Mexico. The Kazakh boxed and applied the pressure as Nursultanov was patient in taking it to the tough Mexican Olivas. Continuing to do his thing Nursultanov tagged Olivas with power shots halfway through the fight. Late in the fight Nursultanov dominated as he was well on his way to victory but credit to Olivas for hanging in fighting in going the distance.
Follow Miguel on Twitter @MigMaravilla