Canelo vs Kovalev odds: Explaining the large (opening) gap

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Multi-division world champion and sports superstar Canelo Alvarez will reportedly challenge WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev on November 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Canelo vs Kovalev has not yet been confirmed (as of 9/9 # 2:33 PM) but negotiations appear to be progressing and the fight appears imminent. 

Why Canelo vs Kovalev?
It's obvious. Team Canelo thinks the much bigger Kovalev would be an easier assignment than a third fight with rival Gennady Golovkin. Moreover, fighting the Russian would give Canelo an opportunity to win a world title in his fourth weight class and enhance his legacy by defeating the consensus top-rated light heavyweight in the process.

At the elite level, the risk vs reward factor prevails in big fights, and Team Canelo believes Canelo vs Kovalev is the better option; especially considering Canelo would make a ton of money fighting either.

So, who has the upper-hand? Regardless of what experts think, one fighter will open as a healthy favorite.

Canelo vs Kovalev odds
The smaller man, Alvarez, will be as much as a 7 to 1 favorite as projected by BettingInsiderJournal.com when the fight is announced. Kovalev will be a rough 4 to 1 underdog per the same outfit.

That's a bit surprising given Kovalev's size, pedigree and ring accomplishments. He's also regarded by many as the world's best light heavyweight.

Look for the Canelo vs Kovalev odds to shrink a bit prior to fight time. Nevertheless, the betting lines falsely suggest Alvarez should clearly have his way with 'Krusher.'

The opening odds certainly won't be reflective of threat Kovalev possesses. So, what are insiders seeing in this showdown?

1. Kovalev vs smaller, faster elite-level opponents
Everyone knows about Abel Sanchez's long and successful run as Golovkin's trainer. However, some don't realize Abel trained Kovalev, then a little-known newbie, for a brief stint. In fact, Sanchez proclaimed he guided the Russian to eight knockout wins and, for a short time, had both fighters in his stable concurrently and had them spar each other despite the size difference.

“Kovalev was afraid of Golovkin when he was in the ring with him,” recalled Sanchez. I couldn’t spar them too much because Kovalev showed Gennady too much respect in the ring."

"When he did spar Gennady, Sergey would fall apart and wouldn’t pose much of a challenge for Golovkin. It was either too much respect or too much fear.”

Was it the hand-speed? The movement? The body attack?

In all fairness, Kovalev later insisted Sanchez was bitter because he was replaced by John David Jackson who, as Kovalev's now former trainer, would guide Sergey to the mountaintop of the division and the subsequent spoils that accompany success.

Kathy Duva, Sergey's promoter, also suggested Sanchez's comments were unfair, insisting that version of Sergey  was still a work in progress when he trained under Sanchez.

One must wonder, though, what Team Canelo sees that makes them so eager to challenge the fearsome Kovalev. They obviously see something and it might be related to some of the apparent issues Kovalev had when sparring Golovkin.

2.Vulnerable to the body
When Canelo vs Kovalev was initially rumored, trainer Sanchez also suggested Canelo would defeat Kovalev with his bodywork. We've seen Kovalev get hit and hurt to the body, especially in his rematch with Ward. But Ward is a naturally bigger and rangier fighter than Canelo and their styles are different. 

Nevertheless, remember how successful Canelo worked the body against the rangier Rocky Fielding last December? It was beautiful. It was violent. And most of all, Fielding had no answer for it.

... But  Kovalev's backers would insist Rocky Fielding is certainly not Sergey Kovalev

Expect to see Canelo try to work the body as he did with Fielding below. How much success he'll have remains to be seen.

3. Age / Recent Performances
Is Kovalev starting to slow down at 36? There was certainly no shame in losing to Andre Ward. Kovalev also redeemed himself well after losing his first bout with Eleider Alvarez. And more recently, Sergey rallied back to brilliantly knockout previously unbeaten Anthony Yarde after appearing to be on the verge of getting stopped himself.

Yes, Kovalev is getting touched up more these days but Canelo's advocates shouldn't place a great deal of emphasis on Sergey's age. After all, he arguably deserved the nod in the first Ward fight, was having his way with Alvarez in their first bout before getting caught with a big shot, and rebounded heroically to comeback and KO a young, hungry knockout artist in the 11th Round of a fight he was controlling.

Contrary to herd mentality, Kovalev hasn't been exposed as an old man; he's been exposed as a bad ass.

His most recent performances against Alvarez and Yarde tell us he has fine recuperative powers, a solid chin, and can stick and move like a pure boxer to win a fight on points if need be.

And aside from the great Andre Ward, he's decisively defeated every opponent he's face to date.

4. A-side vs B-side
If Canelo vs Kovalev goes to the distance, the onus will be on Kovalev, the champion, to separate himself and leave no doubt.

I hate to say it but it's true. Despite rare cases, the A side fighter generally receives the benefit of the doubt in a close, high-profile fight.

Joe Louis vs Jersey Joe Walcott I, Muhammad Ali vs Ken Norton III, Sugar Ray Leonard VS Marvin Hagler, Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Sturm, Ward vs Kovalev I, De La Hoya vs Whitaker, Ali vs Shavers, Marciano vs LaStarza I and more....

If, for instance, nothing happens in the first two rounds while the fighters are still trying to adapt to each other's style, Canelo will likely enter Round 3 with a 20-18 lead on the cards.

Canelo arguably benefited from being the A-side in his draw with Gennady Golovkin and razor thin wins over Erislandy Lara and Daniel Jacobs. Conversely, Andre Ward, as the A-side fighter against Kovalev, arguably got the benefit of the doubt in his first bout with Sergey, winning a close but unanimous decision.

In sum
Canelo Alvarez is a special fighter who is extremely hard to hit cleanly and is very versatile in the ring.It's easy to see why he will open as the clear favorite. But, a 7 to 1 favorite? That's a bit ridiculous.

Look for the odds to tighten a bit but don't be surprised if Canelo is still a 4 to 1 favorite come fight time, with Kovalev being a 2 1/2 or 3 to 1 underdog.

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