LAS VEGAS – Canelo Alvarez and his trainers cannot see any reason why winning Saturday night would prevent them from fighting Artur Beterbiev.
The Russian knockout artist is widely viewed as the most dangerous light heavyweight in boxing. Beterbiev has knocked out each of his 15 opponents, including previously unbeaten Oleksandr Gvozdyk in their title unification fight October 18 in Philadelphia.
Eddy Reynoso, Alvarez’s head trainer, still doesn’t consider Beterbiev the best light heavyweight in the sport. That distinction, according to Reynoso, belongs to Sergey Kovalev, Alvarez’s opponent Saturday night in a 12-round, 175-pound championship match DAZN will stream live from MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“Kovalev is better than Beterbiev, and we’re fighting him on Saturday,” Reynoso told a group of reporters prior to a press conference Wednesday at MGM Grand. “So, why wouldn’t we fight [Beterbiev]?”
The 36-year-old Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) is more accomplished than Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs), who won his first world title, the IBF 175-pound crown, in November 2017. Beterbiev, 34, added the WBC belt by knocking out Ukraine’s Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in the 10th round of a fight Gvozdyk was winning on two of three scorecards entering the 10th round.
Russia’s Kovalev won his first light heavyweight title, the WBO belt, when he knocked out Wales’ Nathan Cleverly in August 2013. He later added the IBF and WBA titles when he dominated Bernard Hopkins on his way to winning a 12-round unanimous decision in November 2014.
Kovalev has suffered two knockout defeats since June 2017, though, an eighth-round TKO to Andre Ward and a seventh-round knockout to Eleider Alvarez.
Kovalev also was hurt badly toward the end of the seventh round of his last fight, an eventual 11th-round knockout of mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde. The WBO light heavyweight champion knocked out an exhausted Yarde (18-1, 17 KOs) with a single, jarring jab.
Canelo Alvarez, meanwhile, hasn’t decided whether he’ll continue competing at light heavyweight after Saturday night. He could return to the middleweight of 160 pounds or just drop down one division to compete again at the super middleweight maximum of 168.
“We’re going to win this championship on Saturday,” Reynoso said. “Then we’ll maybe look for the 168 or the 160 [fights]. And also, if there’s another 175 [title fight], we’ll win it as well. We will look for the best fights and the best opponents, who offer the best fights and continue breaking records and continue growing Saul’s professional career.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.