It's Fight Week, which can always make the imagination run wild.
On a La Poderosa II running wild.
I've just watched The Motorcycle Diaries with a proletariat's recidivistic sentimentality before waxing nostalgic on Canelo Vs Kovalev: 40 Days.
To borrow a refrain from WuTang Clan in “C.R.E.A.M.”: “The combination made my eyes bleed.”
Forgive me, but I just saw Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35KOs) and Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29KOs) greeting each other like pro basketball players on the same team attending a recital. In lieu of what I'd just seen prior, it conjured images of the two of them blazing through Mexico to Las Vegas, totally buddy/buddy, for a jackpot on a dilapidated motorcycle instead of Che Guevera and Alberto Granado. Maybe its the unusual regalia that laces a promotion selling this fight like an NBA Finals Half-Time Show sponsored by DAZN.
“I don't care how many different ways you ask the question or in how many languages you ask it. I'm gonna give the answers that I want to give.”
–Draymond Green, Badass PF, Golden State Warriors, offering his perspective on Canelo Alvarez
At the onset of this promotion, Canelo isn't much different from the man of blue-collar aristocracy I met behind the stage curtains at Hard Rock Café in Times Square to launch the hype for a showdown with Daniel Jacobs. But he doesn't have an acerbic quality that goes, “This is annoying.” He almost expects intelligence from the international press corps, but isn't disappointed in nonsense or redundancy. For me, it's not even about asking him questions at all; you can get the answers you want from Canelo. Half of them come from who he signs up to fight and what he does in the ring. It's always been about legacy derived from a bevy of legends. He may even be an exam with all the answers jotted in at this point.
This fight week coincides with the debut of super prodigy Xander Zayas, who turned pro around the same time Canelo did, and defeated a man, impressively, 14 years his senior at just age 17. He got in the game because of bullies like a young Canelo unrefined. Go figure that Kovalev used to be a bully, but as of late, has taken on the role of refined. Make what you want of this, but Canelo prefers a club of old school music and classic fragrance; roughly 15 of Canelo's victories during his rise to prominence have come as a result of fighters age 35 and up.
“People think there's a limit to how high you can go. No. There's no limits. That mountain that's the highest mountain… it just keeps getting higher and higher. It's just different levels.”
–DJ Khaled, legendary music mogul, might've had a hit called “All I Do Is Win”, on Canelo's challenge of Kovalev
Not that any of this wasn't planned. Last year around this time, Canelo was through basking in the triumph over Gennadiy Golovkin (he was actually still the trifecta of Gennady, “Triple G” and “GGG” before Alvarez beat the prime out of all three) with his sights set on the unheralded WBA super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding out of London. The braintrust of Golden Boy and DAZN knew Jacobs would be a big middleweight that came with stress, and more than likely preferred to eschew even more stress inducing IBF middleweight championship anxiety with a stubborn Sergey Derevyanchenko, a near Ukrainian facsimile of himself. When you're as nuanced as Canelo is at a now cured age 29, titles or scandal don't matter as much as men with both to heal burden for legacy.
Not to mention satisfying an 11-fight, $365 million dollar deal that requires action and a certain degree of surety. That's why a really cured and scandal damaged Kovalev with a more prestigious name and title matters; and what's going on with a classic bumper car in Oscar De La Hoya, with his lurid sex scandal to add spice, don't really matter. The oddity of Canelo's index include a quality based on quantity, with variety based on sameness. He waited out Golovkin and didn't allow Kovalev any patience. Two different kinds of old prestige at different intervals. “The Krusher” just went the whole nine with a non-sparring Anthony Yarde, so it wouldn't seem logical to trained eyes that Kovalev can traverse a mile in this upcoming Canelo's shoes. Not that there's room for complacency.
“When some things have all come together and you've worked so hard, you just hope that everything you've thought about and planned for goes right. But you have to be sure that, “No… something's gonna go wrong.” ”
–Maverick Carter, executive producer, 40 Days: Canelo Vs Kovalev, who's spent enough time around LeBron James to know
But that's why the fighters go to Hell and put a pillow next to the radiator.
Ordinary fighters can't withstand a comfy purgatory by comparison, let alone Lucifer's dominion, which is exactly what a world class training camp is. It envelopes the body and the soul. It must. Sergey Kovalev has been to Hell and back many times over. Probably keeps all receipts in the jockstrap. A man of immense pride with an old school team lead by James “Buddy McGirt, Kovalev has been rid of the habits that bedeviled his saga with Andre Ward. We know there's attrition and baldness on top of a weary mind that's absorbed a lot of punishment over the past year. Still, he'll confront Alvarez with somewhere in the neighborhood of a 200 lb all-time great with a KO% ratio of damn near 90% on the evening of November 2. It's very possible (and if you believe minds like Abel Sanchez) that Kovalev KOs Canelo. The sweet science did, as we know, establish weight classes for a reason. But none of this matters to virtually anyone I'm hearing in the game.
“Man, Canelo probably destroys him. He (Kovalev) has already been destroyed. He's been clipped already. His brain has been shook plenty of times.”
–Angel Garcia, father and trainer of Danny “Swift” Garcia, who knows a thing or two about a thing or two
Terence “Bud” Crawford, on hand to witness the budding legend of protégé and pound-for-pound heir apparent Shakur Stevenson, sees the Mexican superstar “Krushing” Sergey Kovalev: “I got Canelo by stoppage. Six rounds,” toasted Bud. “He's got an underrated defense and doesn't get hit as often as people think he does. He'll go to the body break him down and get the job done.”
All I know is we're now from 40 Days to 3 nights away and I have Kovalev getting stopped in 9 beautifully ugly rounds.
The best thing about Kovalev just happened to be the best thing about Canelo's all-time great nemesis Golovkin: his punishing jab. Sergey's is probably more dangerous and lethal. With national pride on the line, and the recent inspiration from fellow Russian badass and unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev, I can see Kovalev turning off the streets lights in his neighborhood and making things really dark in there for Canelo. I can see Canelo badly hurt in this fight — particularly early on.
But Alvarez is a special blend of methodical resilience and persistent substance who should finish Kovalev with sensational style. The merits of what he's done with who and when, can be debated and will be; but no active fighter boasts a better career resume of Hall of Fame fighters on the resume than Canelo Alvarez, which gets a little more impressive on Madison Ave and Oxford Street. I just wish Draymond Green, DJ Khaled and Maverick Carter could call the damn fight and beam in Oscar De La Hoya from the Red Light District in between rounds for DAZN. It's a sexy fight.