Canelo Alvarez made history with a brutal, 11th-round knockout of Sergey Kovalev to win a light heavyweight world title on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. He became a four-division titleholder and holds belts simultaneously at middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight. He moved up two weight divisions to challenge Kovalev and had some problems along the way but came through with a spectacular knockout.
Earlier in the night in Carson, California, Miguel Berchelt stopped Jason Sosa in a dominant, four-round performance to retain his junior lightweight title. Although this fight was largely overshadowed by the event in Las Vegas, Berchelt claimed a bit of the spotlight with his performance.
Dan Rafael, Timothy Bradley and Steve Kim are here to break down the biggest moments of the night.
Should Canelo be in the conversation for pound-for-pound king?
Rafael: He should and not just because of this win over Kovalev but because of his overall résumé and talent. What he did with Kovalev makes it harder and harder not to vote him No. 1. In the ESPN rankings. I have been voting Vasiliy Lomachenko No. 1, Terence Crawford No. 2 and Canelo No. 3. I will have to think about what I will do for our next set of rankings next week. But I cannot argue with anyone who decides to vote for Alvarez in the top spot. He's a great fighter and a future Hall of Famer. And he dares to be great by continuing to go up in weight in search of new challenges.
Should Canelo stay at light heavyweight? Who's next?
Berchelt's vicious body shot forces Sosa to a knee
Miguel Berchelt rocks Jason Sosa with a massive body shot to send Sosa to a knee. For more Top Rank Boxing action, sign up for ESPN+: http://plus.espn.com/.
Rafael: I don't think he has to stay at light heavyweight. But can he compete there? Yes, he can. He will have numerous options in all three divisions in which he holds titles. That said, seeing how absolutely ripped he looked as a light heavyweight, he might damage himself by taking off 15 pounds of muscle to get back to the 160-pound middleweight division.
If he agrees to fight Gennadiy Golovkin for a third time, there's no reason he can't insist on the fight happening at super middleweight. Golovkin fought at 164 pounds earlier this year in his knockout of Steve Rolls.
I think Canelo's days at 160 are probably done. I wouldn't mind seeing him at 168 either against GGG for a third time or against any top fighter in the division and going after a real title, not the secondary one he has. Callum Smith, who like Alvarez fights on DAZN, would be a terrific match.
If Canelo decides to go back down to middleweight, who's next?
Rafael: If he goes back to 160, only Golovkin makes sense. All due respect to titleholders Demetrius Andrade and Jermall Charlo or even a top contender such as Sergiy Derevyanchenko, but those guys would not be close to the magnitude of the fight for Canelo that a GGG trilogy bout would be.
Personally, I'd like to see those fights, but I seriously doubt Canelo is going to cut all that weight to fight any of them in bouts for which there is no real public demand.
What's next for Kovalev?
Rafael: Kovalev said he is not retiring, and he fought a good fight until the knockout. I thought he was winning at the time of the KO. Assuming he comes back, he will be on DAZN. According to my sources, his deal for the fight with Alvarez included two guaranteed comeback fights on DAZN for set seven-figure license fees in the event of a loss.
When Kovalev comes back, he will be on DAZN, which is where world titleholder Dmitry Bivol fights. That could be an interesting fight between the aggressive Kovalev and the smoother boxer (but also good puncher) Bivol. That said, I doubt coming off this kind of KO loss that Kovalev will be that tough in his return.
Is Berchelt the premiere junior lightweight on the planet?
Bradley: I don't know. There's a lot of talent at 130 pounds. But I'd have to say that we've seen him against come-forward fighters, which favors Berchelt. Sosa, I thought he would try to box a little bit more, but he came at Berchelt attacking, and he stayed in the midrange a little bit too long. Berchelt got his hands going, hurt Sosa and took him out.
But I want to see Berchelt with a master boxer. I've got to see him with a guy such as Jamel Herring or a guy such as Gervonta Davis who has punching power and who can take advantage of some of the flaws that Berchelt has. But it's going to have to be a slick boxer who is able to compete with him.
Who's next for Berchelt: Vasiliy Lomachenko or Oscar Valdez?
Bradley: Lomachenko is a wizard in there. He's a guy who is great at midrange, has good legs and a good transportation system, and lets his hands go. And there is a very good possibility of Berchelt facing former WBO featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez next, provided Valdez beats Andres Gutierrez on Nov. 30.
I think Valdez's being a little smaller than Berchelt and kind of fighting the same way would make for an all-action fight, and Valdez has the punching power, I believe, to hurt a fighter such as Berchelt. I think it's a great fight. I think that's a fight the fight fans wouldn't mind seeing: Valdez versus Berchelt.
What's next for Sosa?
Kim: In the past, Sosa had been more than competitive at a world-class level, having beaten Javier Fortuna and drawn with Nicholas Walters. Really, the only time Sosa was handled with ease in recent years was by Lomachenko back in 2017.
Sosa was simply blown out by Berchelt, and he was never in this fight. After a pretty competitive first round, from the second round on, he was on the receiving end of an avalanche of punches until Sosa's corner decided to do the humane thing and throw in the towel.
It was the right call.
It isn't clear if the 31-year-old Sosa will continue to fight at this level, but he is still a serviceable opponent. The quick decision of his corner will give him the opportunity to fight another day.
Who impressed you on the Berchelt-Sosa undercard?
Kim: Junior welterweight Elvis Rodriguez continues to display the form that has many observers believing he is a true blue-chip prospect who will make waves in 2020 and beyond. Rodriguez (5-0-1, 5 KOs) rolled through the normally durable Luis Norambuena (4-5-1, 0 KOs) in four rounds, with a two-fisted attack that steadily grew as the rounds went on.
Rodriguez, a southpaw who is trained by the renowned Freddie Roach, has a wide array of punches and solid technical skills. He's only 23 years old, and though he's just a six-round fighter at the moment, Rodriguez will start to become more of a focus of Top Rank moving forward. This was his fifth fight of 2019, and look for him to step into the ring once more by the end of this year.
Back on Aug. 10 at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, Rodriguez drilled Jesus Gonzalez in one round. Coming into that fight, Gonzalez had never been stopped. Norambuena was similarly selected by the Top Rank matchmakers because, in nine previous outings, he had never been knocked out.
Top Rank matchmaker Brad Goodman, who is normally tough to please, turned to some of the writers in attendance and said, "He's the real deal, huh?''
He just might be.
How did Ryan Garcia look? If this was a turning point for him, did he achieve his goal?
Rafael: Garcia looked terrific. I figured he would win, but I did not at all expect a first-round knockout of the usually tough Romero Duno. Garcia absorbed a few good shots, didn't budge and destroyed Duno in 98 seconds.
He took this fight personally because he had been accused of ducking Duno when Golden Boy wanted him to fight him on 24 hours' notice in September. Garcia got the fight he wanted and could not have looked better. The kid has the potential to be a mega star.
Who impressed you on the Canelo-Kovalev undercard?
Rafael: Seniesa "Super Bad" Estrada looked good in a brawl with Marlen Esparza to win a vacant women's interim flyweight title. She moved up in weight and won a clear ninth-round technical decision when Esparza could not continue because of a deep cut on her hairline from a fifth-round accidental head-butt.
I'll also give props to junior middleweight Evan Holyfield, the son of Evander Holyfield. He needed only 16 seconds to win his professional debut against Nick Winstead. Holyfield put his punches together nicely. It was the kind of debut that makes you want to see more of him.