Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev will square off and throw fists at each other come Nov. 2, but there is plenty of mutual admiration between the two foes until the first bell rings.
On Wednesday, Kovalev took a selfie with Alvarez and posted it on his Instagram page. They smiled at each other several times showing admiration, pumped fists, shook hands and gave each other a thumbs up as they started promotion for their 175-pound showdown in Las Vegas.
“I respect Sergey Kovalev going back to meeting him in 2012 [in Big Bear],” said Alvarez. “He’s one of the best in the light heavyweight division. He represents a great challenge for me. I’m very motivated by him. He presents a difficult style. It’s going to be a complicated fight. But we’re ready. I have belief in myself as a fighter and my experience.”
Kovalev posted a picture from their 2012 meeting in Big Bear, too, as soon as the fight was announced Friday. The back and forth kindness and complementary gestures are a far cry from the harsh words Alvarez and loathed foe Gennady Golovkin have exchanged in recent years.
Alvarez was also very respectful in his dealings with Daniel Jacobs as he promoted his fight with the former 160-pound titleholder earlier this year.
“I believe that Kovalev surprised [Andre] Ward. He is a champion who has fought difficult opponents,” added Alvarez. “If he lost against Yarde, I would not fight him and it would have been a different story. He had to win, and he performed very well.”
Ward took exception to the selfie, commenting on Twitter, “We taking selfies with opponents now. Ok, bet.”
Alvarez is not letting the cordial proceedings take away from his task at hand, which is to ultimately punish Kovalev, specifically in the ribs, and become a four-division champion.
“I have a lot of confidence hitting the body. It’s an important key in each of my fights. It will not be an exception against Kovalev,” said Alvarez. He’ll show me the path that I need to take in order to beat him. I’m always ready for anything.”
Manouk Akopyan has been a member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011 and has written for the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Guardian and Philadelphia Inquirer. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at email@example.com.