Light heavyweight title on the line: Canelo vs Kovalev

Just ahead, we will be offering you a gamblers’ perspective on the above match-up: At the close of 1998, 22 years ago, yours truly wrote a sports column “On the Right Side, the Center of your Sports World” which ran weekly in a Military Publication. During that period, I was blessed to have exceptional success while picking the winners of NFL Football games against the Las Vegas line. To be successful, you have to work long and hard at crunching the numbers. Hopefully, the Marines and Navy personnel paid heed to my weekly selections and made some coin.

During that same period, we introduced this weekly feature, of four “Wise Guys” giving their selections against the Las Vegas bookmakers. The ‘Wise Guys” included myself, Philly Billy Werndl of Extra Sports 690, part of the Loose Cannons program with Steve Hartman, Dave Pallet of the Dave & Jeff Show, plus ex-NFL kicker Benny Ricardo who at that time wore many hats. Benny did standup comedy, worked on the NFL’s Spanish broadcasts, and from time to time was a ring announcer/sportscaster for some of the biggest fights in boxing. When it came to picking the games against the Las Vegas lines maker, my competition would often put more emphasis on betting on the better team and less on how these teams would fair against the posted line.

The reason for mentioning my seedy past? It’s a credibility issue. Plus, before you accept advice from anyone, you should know something about their background. I also worked for a Philadelphia Stock Broker, which gave me a respect for timing. The time-honored edges in gambling teach you to seek out value in every selection and not to be swayed this way or that way just because someone is your favorite boxer or it’s your favorite team. You would be amazed at how often that attachment cloud’s someone’s judgment and they end up putting their hard-earned cash in someone else’s pocket, that former friend, a local Casino or the neighborhood bookie.

After being a serious student of Boxing for over a decade, and looking over the opening odds that the Casinos offered on this Canelo vs Kovalev fight, you’d have to admit Boxing is an entirely different breed of cat from the more popular betting sports of baseball, basketball, and football. With the opening line in Tijuana, Las Vegas and internationally opening extremely high in favor of Alvarez, we see that Canelo vs. Kovalev betting line will likely move downward from Canelo -$769 to a lot less and the best and only proposition worth a look (on what some are claiming is a 50-50 proposition) would be to have you place your hard-earned cash on the underdog, Kovalev to win, which would return +$490 on your $100 wager.

So, as predicted, as we got closer and closer to fight time, the smart money started rolling in and altered that opening line. So, that original, opening line, of Canelo Alvarez -$769 no longer exists and will likely drop even more to perhaps Canelo Alvarez -$400 and the payback on a bet of $100 on Kovalev might only win you +200.

Add-on: As of early Saturday morning on Fight Day, November 2nd, sure enough, the odds did drop for the Canelo Alvarez backers to just Alvarez -360, meaning you’d now be wagering less money ($360 on Alvarez) to win that same $100. The drop in the betting odds proves one thing to the casinos, the smart money is now favoring the Kovalev upset.

Here are some of the other prop bets which the Casinos have offered:

The Fight will go the distance

  • Yes -140 (5/7)     
  • No +110 (11/10) 

Method of Victory

  • Alvarez will win by Decision 10/11   
  • Alvarez will win by KO, TKO or Disqualification 9/5       
  • Kovalev will win by Decision 15/2     
  • Kovalev will win by KO, TKO or DQ 11/2     
  • And finally, this bout will end in a Draw 25/1     

So, at this point, the veteran Las Vegas and South of the Border gamblers all have a watchful eye out for any pertinent news (an illness perhaps) which might alter their position in regards to who’s going to win on Saturday night, November 2, 2019, and become or remain the WBO World Light Heavyweight Champ.

Why do you suppose the Canelo handlers selected the bigger man, the veteran Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev to be Canelo’s opponent?

At this point, Team Krusher is certainly a very focused group with every man fully prepared to perform their responsibilities. (l to r) The principles: the well-respected trainer Buddy McGirt, boxer Sergey Kovalev and manager Egis Klimas.

Kovalev’s manager, Egis Klimas, has a history of doing a superb job with his charges and as a result, you never hear any of the negatives you might associate with a character like Don King. Originally from Lithuania and now residing in Edmonds, Washington, Klimas has continually traveled back and forth from his home in Washington to Oxnard, Calif. where he has a dozen signees training to include an even distribution of six southpaws and six orthodox fighters, with the most notable being Vasiliy Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk. With Oxnard being situated approximately 60 miles west of downtown Los Angeles, Klimas often catches a flight out of LAX Airport to travel back east to take care of “The Krusher’s” needs who has his permanent residence in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The indicators of a good to great manager, or a good to great trainer? A good manager keeps your mind clutter-free. He’s continually having you sign contracts that make you money. Such as that multi-million contract for your next fight. He’s also very good at keeping track of your money needs and those requirements as far as medicals, most importantly where to go to get them completed. He’s also monitoring your progress in the sport, and also checking and re-checking with you concerning your travel plans.

Why are these gentlemen all smiles? It’s obvious, they have 100% confidence that they have the best trainer plus the best manager who has anticipated their every need. Now 36-years of age, Sergey Kovalev (right) has become the highest-rated and yet most susceptible to be defeated world champ from the super middleweight to the cruiserweight divisions. In other words, both his Light Heavyweight title and his services as an opponent are now in high demand.

At this stage, if Canelo were to defeat Kovalev, the victory would be touted as legendary, a history-in-the-making event. And surely, this would be yet another impressive victory, a display of not only Canelo’s endurance but his lightning-fast defensive skills, his slips, and rolls against the bigger, taller men. Even if Canelo were to lose, it would not diminish his ability to sell tickets (fill stadiums) or in any way lessen the Mexican hero’s fan base.  

From the outset of his career, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has benefitted, big-time, from the expertise of the smiling, easy-going, principled, non-controversial, hard-working father-son duo of Jose and Eddy Reynoso, who now have a reputation for turning out winners. Their previous champions include featherweight Oscar Larios, plus lightweight Javier Jauregui.

Wednesday afternoon, October 23, 2019: In the above and below photos we see head trainer Eddy Reynoso and his fighter Saul “Canelo” Alvarez shuffling about from one interview to the next at the House of Boxing Training Center in San Diego. It appeared every media outlet from Univision, Telemundo, Fox Deportes, Hoy Noticias, Aztec Deportes, the LA Times, to the flashy Jossie Ochoa plus Elie Seckbach of ESNews were in attendance. It appears the upcoming boxing event featuring Saul Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev has everyone’s attention.

With the Press surrounding Canelo Alvarez and the chaotic questions coming fast and furious, this able reporter another top fighter in the crowd. Dead center is local favorite Giovani Santillan (24-0, KOs) who may well end up being the next most

A question that had to be asked, “Why would Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and his troops keep returning to the House of Boxing Gym, for so many of their Pre-Fight Press Conferences (4), and so many of their workouts (30), especially after they’ve been offered the availability of other larger locations and they’ve twice built their own local facility, one which is just .

But wasn’t Canelo more of a rough and tumble cowboy? How did he get involved in boxing while growing up on a farm and learned early how to ride horseback or should we say bareback. He even received a pair of horses from a Mexican pop star as well as from a local mayor. His other interests ranged from fishing and swimming to camping along the Rio Grande de Santiago, which is one of the longest rivers in Mexico, measuring up to 269 miles long, beginning at Lake Chapala and continuing north-west through the Sierra Madre Occidental.

This Alvarez has been exceptional in most everything. The youngest of eight, seven brothers, one sister, Canelo fought in 34 professional fights before becoming a full-grown adult, which is quite impressive when you figure in that time, he managed to capture no less than four titles in the process. He had just one, single blemish on his career throughout that time, which was a four-round draw with Jorge Juarez.

Family-wise, Alvarez does have a daughter, Emily, even though he is no longer seeing her mother. Of course, at this point in his career, Boxing remains center stage and the Champ might be on some sort of arranged date with a Hollywood starlet. At his last fight, Mom was in attendance.

While the six-foot-tall Kovalev will have a four-inch height and two-inch reach advantage, Alvarez, who stands 5’8″ tall and has a 70½ inch reach, claims he’ll have no problem getting in close to overcome these advantages and he’ll be able to beat Kovalev over the distance of this 12-round, 175-pound title fight. Stylistically, Team Alvarez considers Kovalev, from middleweight to light heavyweight, the easiest champion to topple. He’s a bit methodical, doesn’t boast blazing hand speed and won’t be hard to find in the ring. Plus, against Andre Ward, Kovalev showed his susceptibility to being hurt by body shots. Kovalev backers argue that the two punches that ended up stopping him in his battle with Ward were well below the belt and referee Tony Weeks should have called it as such and penalized Ward.

Ward fans called his complaint, nothing more than wishful thinking.

Kovalev appears to be so at ease and ready for what many are calling a classic matchup.

Kovalev’s message to doubters: “After all, who’s the one who has been competing in the light-heavyweight division the longest? My whole career!”

Plus, Kovalev has always made use of his powerful jab and will no doubt keep Canelo at a distance. In other words, what worked against the lighter Golovkin, might not have any effect against the much bigger Kovalev. While Canelo’s gameplan involves getting inside to land those hard body shots, Kovalev’s jabs will keep him at bay. Somebody’s bubble is about to burst.

During the recent Canelo Open Workout/Press Conference on Wednesday, October 23, 2019, at The House of Boxing Training Center in San Diego, it was more like a lovefest than a workout. Accompanying the workout were five Mariachis, free food, no less than a dozen news/TV outlets, podcast interviewers, along with the many, many cameras. Tirelessly, Canelo went about systematically from one interview to the next with the same basic message: “We have the plan and skill to defeat Kovalev and win this title. It’s going to be one of the most important fights of my career. This title is so important. For me to be one of just a very few four-time world champions in different divisions. It is historic for my career. In boxing, you have to be willing to take risks to make history. This fight is one of those risks, and I’m ready.”

Since this fight may well end up being one of the most scrutinized bouts in the history of boxing, it makes sense to get an early start examining the four officials who were selected to judge this title fight.

Referee Russell Mora was selected over veteran Nevada referees Robert Byrd, Vic Drakulich, Jay Nady and Tony Weeks. Why Mora? Mora hasn’t worked any of Alvarez’s 12 fights in Las Vegas since he first began to fight there in May of 2010. Mora did officiate Alvarez’s 9th-round KO win of Jeferson Luis Goncalo back on June 6, 2009, in Cancun, Mexico.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission also selected and approved New York State’s Julie Lederman, Nevada’s Dave Moretti, and Connecticut’s Don Trella as the three judges for this contest.

Nevada judges Tim Cheatham, Eric Cheek, Lisa Giampa, Patricia Morse Jarman and Glenn Trowbridge, Connecticut’s Glenn Feldman and New Jersey’s Steve Weisfeld were also being considered.

While Dave Moretti has worked each of Alvarez’s past four fights in Las Vegas, and eight of Alvarez’s previous nine appearances in “The Fight Capital of the World, Don Trella has worked just one Alvarez fight. Lederman will be judging her first fight involving Alvarez, who is, as noted, moving up two weight classes to challenge Kovalev.

Moretti most recently scored Alvarez’s 115-113 victory over Daniel Jacobs in their middleweight title unification match on May 4th at the T-Mobile Arena. The other judges were Feldman (116-112) and Weisfeld (115-113) who also scored in favor of Alvarez.

In Alvarez’s first fight against Gennady Golovkin, which resulted in a split decision draw, Moretti was the only judge to score Golovkin the winner (115-113), while Trella scored that bout a draw (114-114). The third judge, Adalaide Byrd, infamously scored that bout (118-110) for Alvarez.

In their rematch, Moretti had Alvarez a 115-113 victor over Golovkin, as did Weisfeld. Since Feldman scored that fight even, Alvarez ended up winning a majority decision.

In Alvarez’s highest-profile fight, Moretti scored Floyd Mayweather Jr. a 116-112 winner over him in September 2013 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Craig Metcalfe scored that same bout 117-111 for Mayweather.

The well-documented pressure of judging a major contest in the state of Utah. C.J. Ross oddly scored the Mayweather-Alvarez fight a draw (114-114). As a result, she was never assigned to judge another professional fight.

Born Santos Saul Alvarez Barragan in Guadalajara, Mexico on July 18, 1990, Alvarez, who turned pro at the age of 15, was nicknamed “Canelo”, which comes from the Spanish word meaning cinnamon. This nickname is often given to youngsters who have reddish hair. In this case, Canelo inherited his hair color from his Mom.

On Saturday, June 28, 2008, super welterweight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and his six brothers, super middleweight Rigoberto Alvarez, welterweight Ramon Alvarez, super lightweight Ricardo Alvarez, lightweight Victor Alvarez, super welterweight Daniel Alvarez, and middleweight Gonzalo Alvarez all fought on the same fight card at the Palenque Calle 2, Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico.

In 2011, at just 20 years and 230 days old, Saul Alvarez won a unanimous decision victory (119-108 on all three scorecards) over Matthew “Magic” Hatton at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. to become the youngest boxer to ever win the WBC World Super-Welterweight Title. Some claim this super-welterweight title win was also the most decisive ever. How so? He won every round on every card with the exception of the seventh round, in which he received a point deduction for striking Hatton after the bell.

Canelo’s lone defeat which came against Floyd Mayweather Jr. on points in their MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas showdown back on September 14, 2013, was also his first introduction to a major, major payday. Their match earned a record-breaking $150 million, which meant Alvarez got to receive a guaranteed $12.5 million as well as a respectable share of the $2.2 million in proceeds from the pay-per-view.

Alvarez’s impressive record: 49 wins, 1 defeat, 2 draws, 34 wins by KO.

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