By Dan Ambrose: Oscar De Hoya doesn’t understand that criticism WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev has been receiving from the boxing public ahead of his November 2 fight against Saul Canelo Alvarez. As far as De La Hoya is concerned, Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) is looking almost as good as ever, and he saw no weakness in his game from his last fight against Anthony Yarde (18-1, 17 KOs) on August 24. Kovalev, 36, came about as close as you can to getting knocked out by Yarde.
Sergey was out on his feet in the 8th round in that fight after getting clipped by a big right hand from Yarde. The fight might have been stopped under different circumstances. Kovalev was fighting in his backyard in Chelyabinsk, Russia. The referee Luis Pabon gave Kovalev a ton of leeway in not stopping the fight in the 8th, because he could have. Kovalev was defenseless, and just getting beaten up by Yarde.
Kovalev is better than ever says De La Hoya
“I think Canelo saw something in him in his armor that’s maybe a chink in his armor, but when he fought for a world title four weeks ago, I didn’t see any weaknesses. I just didn’t,” said De La Hoya to Fighthub about Kovalev’s last fight against Anthony Yarde. “He fought a younger guy, and a stronger guy than Canelo, and he knocked him out with a jab. So, I think Kovalev is better than ever. He’s not where he was when he fought Bernard Hopkins [in 2014], but he’s not far from that. It is a power jab.
“Canelo has had problems with power jabs. The difference will be the movement. The side to side movement with Kovalev. He’s not a fighter who boxes you. He’s not a fighter who is elusive. He does know how to box. He does know how to throw straight punches, but he’s going to be stationary. That might be the difference,” said De La Hoya.
Kovalev was seconds away from being knocked out in the 8th round by Anthony Yarde. Based off that performance, Kovalev is not coming into the fight with Canelo looking as good as ever as De La Hoya maintains. Yeah, Kovalev is still dangerous due to his punching power, but he’s not as good ever was. De La Hoya does admit that Kovalev, 36, isn’t the same fighter he was when he beat Bernard Hopkins in 2014, but he still believes he’s close to that. Kovalev was knocked out by Andre Ward in 2017, and Eleider Alvarez in 2018. In the last two years.
De La Hoya: Whoever wants the KO will get it
“Kovalev, you can make an argument of having the same style, where he can punch, and he’s fast,” said De La Hoya. “He’s not your typical European robotic stiff. He knows how to throw elusive punches. I think it’s going to be one of those fights where whoever goes in hard, and whoever wants the knockout is going to get it. Canelo has to show him respect as well. I believe the first round is going to be key. The first round is going to determine who dictates the pace,” said De La Hoya.
I hope not,” said De La Hoya when asked if the Canelo-Kovalev fight is similar to the De La Hoya vs. Bernard Hopkins match. “It’s different. I was a boxer/puncher, and more on my feet. Hopkins was more of a technician. It’s different, but the size was almost the same. Hopkins was a big guy, he was a strong puncher, and he was a very calculated puncher.
Kovalev probably won’t go for a knockout early on against Canelo, because he knows that would be foolish for him to do. Canelo is hard to hit due to his head and upper body movement. If Kovalev does for an early knockout, he’ll be risking everything, because his stamina is poor.
De La Hoya excited to make Canelo vs. Kovalev fight
“When you’re Golden Boy, you always have a target on your back, and everybody wants a piece of the pie,” said De La Hoya in explaining why it was so difficult to make Canelo-Kovalev fight. “Every promoter out there wants to derail your plans, and ruin your vision, and it happens a lot these days, sadly speaking. But we are who we are, and we do what we do.
“We’re excited and happy that we that we were able to make this fight happen. We’re excited that we have many fights to do. We have a great relationship, and a great business relationship. We’re going to move forward, and give you the best fights,” said De La Hoya.
It had to have been a lot of problems for De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions to negotiate with Kovalev’s promoters at Top Rank. De La Hoya complains that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum romancing Canelo, and he didn’t seem to be too happy about it.
Bob Arum was romancing Canelo says De La Hoya
“It’s funny, because Bob [Arum] kept romancing Canelo, and thinking of Canelo, and this and that. I’m actually worried about his fighter, [Terence] Crawford where he can’t get him a fight,” said De La Hoya. “He belongs in the Hall of Fame, and I’m actually worried about Crawford not getting into the Hall of Fame, because Bob can’t get him a fight. Get him a fight already, and stop romancing Canelo. He’s with Golden Boy, and that’s the bottom line. If I was Crawford, I would be asking a lot of questions. We’re all good. We have a great relationship,” said De La Hoya when asked if he’s mended his relationship with Canelo Alvarez.
“Very happy. Everybody is happy. We have a fight, we’re moving forward, and we have a great long lasting contract, and we’re going to ride this through to the end. Boxing is like a marriage. You have your scuffles here and there, and then at the end of the day, you love each other, you hug each other, and work it out. That’s all it was [miscommunication]. We’re moving forward, we’re working together, and I’m going to make Ryan [Garcia] the biggest star I can,” said De La Hoya.
🗣 I know it’s going to be the most difficult fight of my professional career. I will give the best I have in the ring and that day we can yell “Viva Mexico.” @canelo 🇲🇽 #CaneloKovalev Nov 2 @dazn_usa pic.twitter.com/ktGTAB0JUa
— Golden Boy (@GoldenBoyBoxing) September 19, 2019
If Canelo is under contract with Golden Boy Promotions for many more years, then De La Hoya has nothing to worry about. But once that contract is up, you can bet that the other promoters will be looking to sign Canelo, as long as he’s not over-the-hill.