Canelo Alvarez makes history as the 25th four-division champion with an 11th-round stoppage of Sergey Kovalev.
Canelo Alvarez is now a four-division world champion. And he completed the task in stunning fashion when he scored a vicious 11th-round knockout against Sergey Kovalev to claim the WBO light heavyweight title at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in front of 12,646 rabid fans.
It may have taken a little longer than Canelo expected with the fight getting a late start, but the 29-year-old warmed up at just the right time to make history as the 25th fighter to hold world titles in four weight divisions and the second to win world titles as both a welterweight and light heavyweight.
But it wasn't easy.
Canelo (53-1-2, 36 KOs) was facing a former top 3 pound-for-pound fighter in Sergey Kovalev who had a height and reach advantage. Not to mention that Kovalev stuck to a disciplined game plan that saw him work tirelessly behind the jab. It worked for the first half of the fight as Kovalev (34-4-1) plucked away at Canelo and kept him honest behind a long jab. Canelo sought to work the body, which was considered the path to victory according to many boxing pundits. However, Kovalev dealt with Canelo's body punching and stuck to his guns by firing the jab whenever distance was created.
Interestingly enough, it was the smaller fighter stalking and throwing the heavier punches while the bigger fighter looked to box and win on points.
And, for the most part, the plan was working for Kovalev. Eventually, Canelo chopped him down.
"It was a very close fight because he was defensive, he was closing up his guard," Canelo said. "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."
Prior to the 11th round, there was no true sign of Kovalev slowing down. It was a tightly contested fight that could have gone either way. But then it all changed with one hellacious combination.
Canelo had spent much of the fight firing a left hook over the top. Kovalev had done an excellent job avoiding the punch, and if it landed, he managed to escape danger. But Canelo refused to abandon it, and it finally found a home on the temple of the former unified champion and destroyed his equilibrium.
As Kovalev staggered, a patient Canelo waited for the perfect opportunity to uncork a right hand that landed squarely on his opponent's chin and turned the lights out. There wasn't much need for a count as there was no chance the Russian would make it to his feet. It was called to a halt immediately at the 2:15 mark, and the fighter with the richest contract in boxing finds himself in rarified air.