As we get ever so close to Canelo Alvarez vs Sergey Kovalev this Saturday in Las Vegas, Anthony Yarde trainer Tunde Ajayi analyses the megafight
We were going into uncharted territory, a new environment, a place where nobody at a similar stage of their careers, past or present, has ever gone. The only thing that beat us on that day was experience. I’ve always said education beats experience… certain education, but on that night, the experience defininitely reared its head. Kovalev is a great fighter, he showed that he’s not old or washed up and that he could pull it out the bag. We’re talking about a man who beat up Bernard Hopkins, some would argue beat Andre Ward in their first fight. Anthony said ’The guy can really punch.’ If life is fair, which I believe it is, everyone gets their just rewards when it’s time. Our time will come.
The case for Kovalev
His resilience impressed me. We knew about his jab which is more of a right hand. That particular weapon for Kovalev is maybe something he lost but when he joined with Buddy McGirt it reignited the fire. That weapon dealt with Nathan Cleverly, Bernard Hopkins, Jean Pascal twice. It impressed me that he could weather that storm in the eighth round and come back. I felt he was gone from the previous round and told Anthony he would never get another chance like this. We wasn’t gonna win the fight on points. I just saw a man that stuck to his gameplan, had been through rough times before and drew on that experience. When Anthony almost had him out of there he would do little, subtle things like stick his hands out to suggest he was still in the fight. I call it fish and chips boxing. I love his jab, no matter how much we prepared for it in the gym, getting sparring partners to replicate it, it’s not the same thing. It’s an unconventional jab, comes from a side angle. If a fighter stays on the outside, it’s a done deal, Kovalev wins by stoppage. He’s had losses but always stuck to the same style.
The case for Canelo
He’s short, compact, Canelo took the style from Floyd Mayweather, the only man to beat him. He did what you are supposed to do which is emulate, imitate and make it into your own style. I can see the defensive aspect working for Canelo, but he’s got to get inside, use his head movement, defensive skills and body punches. Canelo is a fantastic body puncher but lets get it right, who was the last person he KOd with a body shot? He does fancy combinations, that may start at the head then drop back down to the body, but hasn’t stopped someone of high calibre with a body shot; he hardly touched Floyd to the body.
My head is saying Canelo on points, my heart is saying Kovalev might stop Canelo.