Targeting the suitable opponent in an ideal fight window of reduced risk is becoming a recent pattern how Saul “Canelo” Alvarez selects his bouts.

Similar to Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. before him, Alvarez has built a brand name and reputation as boxing’s most popular fighter. The enviable perks enable the native of Mexico to approve fights on his terms.

In his pursuit of winning a light-heavyweight belt and fourth weight division title, Alvarez opted for the most recognized titleholder but one with substantial “wear and tear.”

Alvarez will fight World Boxing Organization champion Sergey Kovalev on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Despite his move to light-heavyweight, Alvarez is still considered middleweight champion by one of the sanctioning bodies.

“Moving up two divisions against a world champion is a big challenge for me, worrying about a champion at light heavyweight,” Alvarez said. “But I also think that it’s the most important fight of my career. That’s why we are doing this — to keep making history.”

Yet cynics will harp on that Alvarez is facing a 36-year-old Kovalev who might still possess feared power but has been knocked out in two of his last six fights. Younger and still in their prime light-heavyweight champions Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol were not on Alvarez’s fight radar for his history-coveting goal.

Questions also surfaced when Alvarez freezed his highly-demanded bout against Gennadiy Golovkin until Golovkin reached his mid-30s and overcame a difficult distance-lasting defense against Daniel Jacobs that ended his 23-fight knockout streak.

Soon after the Golovkin-Jacobs bout, Alvarez decided to face Golovkin. Their eventual two-fight sequence ended in a split draw and majority decision win by Alvarez, finishing Golovkin’s 20-bout reign as middleweight champion.

“The truth is with the critics who aren’t with me, who are always going to talk about anything I do, I have nothing to respond to them with,” Alvarez said. “I’ll never make them happy. I don’t try to, and I don’t hope to.”

Alvarez, 29, emphasizes how complementing boxing skills with ring aggression will play a role against Kovalev.

‘We feel that we have the necessary skills to win this fight,” Alvarez said. “I’m going to utilize all my skills in the ring. A body punch is always necessary in every fight and it’s a key move that I’m obviously going to utilize to my advantage to win this fight.”

A native of Russia and part-time Fort Lauderdale resident, Kovalev began his third run as light-heavyweight champion in February following his unanimous decision victory over Eleider Alvarez.

Kovalev’s second title reign ended in a knockout loss against Alvarez. Andre Ward also stopped Kovalev in the direct rematch of Ward’s title winning decision victory. Two months ago, Kovalev underwent 11 physically absorbing rounds against Anthony Yarde before he retained his title with a technical knockout win.

One can’t ignore the angle that Kovalev’s brutal fight with Yarde prompted Alvarez’s team to land the fight so quickly.

“I don’t worry about if I’m the underdog or not,” Kovalev said. “I just feel like we will be in the same ring, and everybody will be in the same position one-on-one, one against one.

“The end will show who’s the best.”

Source: Santos A. Perez