Current middleweight champion and Mexican boxing megastar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez captured a world title in his fourth weight class on Saturday, stopping Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev in the 11th round to win the WBO light heavyweight championship. The fight headlined a DAZN card staged at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV.
Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KO) was competing in the third of his 11-fight contract he signed with DAZN last year, earning $35 million for his bout against Kovalev. Kovalev (34-4-1, 29 KO), earned the highest purse of his career against Alvarez: $3 million.
During fight week, DAZN announced that the main event would not start until the UFC 244 pay-per-view was over. As a result, there was an extensive gap of time between the co-main event and Canelo-Kovalev. The MGM Grand even decided to air the main event of the UFC card on the big screen in the arena to keep the audience entertained. Eventually, both fighters made their way to the ring and the event continued.
The main event got off to a measured start. Kovalev, who possessed a significant height and reach advantage, stayed behind the jab and outworked the smaller man. Meanwhile, Canelo patiently stalked forward, landing something hard here and then. Alvarez’s slow start may have put him behind on the scorecards after the first few rounds.
But Alvarez eventually began to open up, and as expected, went downstairs to Kovalev’s ribcage. The fight began to even up in the middle rounds, as Alvarez increased his workrate and continued to back up Kovalev.
Perhaps feeling a sense of urgency, Kovalev caught a second wind towards the later rounds, and appeared to still have a chance of winning a decision going into the 11th. However, Alvarez put all of that to bed at the end of the round, wobbling Kovalev with a left hook before rendering him unconscious with the right. The right hand from Canelo crumpled Kovalev over the ring ropes, prompting referee Russell Mora to stop the fight almost immediately.
With the win over Kovalev, Alvarez appears to have plenty of options when it comes to future opponents down the line. He could defend his middleweight title next, his secondary title at super middleweight or the light heavyweight belt he just took from Kovalev.
Kovalev, now 36-years-old and 2-2 in his last four fights, may be facing a possible retirement.
In the co-main event, prospect and contender Ryan “King Ry” Garcia (19-0, 16 KO) knocked out Romero Duno (21-2, 16 KO) in the first round of a lightweight bout. Many considered Duno to be the toughest test of Garcia’s professional career so far going in.
Garcia started quickly, landing crisp power shots with the left hook and straight right. Halfway through the first round, Garcia caught Duno with a straight right hand-left hook combination that sent Duno down to the canvas.
Duno was badly hurt by the combination and was unable to make it to his feet to beat the count. Garcia’s win over Duno is arguably his best yet, earning a big knockout on a major boxing card in Las Vegas.