Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez won his first fight at 140lbs, a full 35lbs of muscle lighter than he can weigh-in for Saturday night’s WBO light-heavyweight title challenge against Sergey Kovalev.

That was a four-rounder 14 years ago, when he was just 15 years old, and before he became Mexico’s latest boxing superstar who will go for gold in a fourth weight division against Kovalev, live on Sky Sports.

It has been a glory-filled career where Canelo has transcended weight divisions, refusing to be bound by their strict limits (sometimes unintentionally). He has bounced between categories, floated in the grey areas in between, and those precious numbers on the scales have been manipulated both against him and in his favour.

Kovalev is his heaviest opponent

The Russian champion has spent his entire career at 175lbs (light-heavyweight) but has an identical height and reach to Canelo’s most recent opponent, Daniel Jacobs.

Kovalev and Jacobs are both 6’0” in height with a 73” reach and although they are normally separated by two weight divisions, facing Jacobs was a natural progression to challenging Kovalev.

Canelo beat Jacobs in a 160lbs (middleweight) world title fight which also required them to weigh-in for a second time on the morning on the fight, at 170lbs. Jacobs came in at 173.6lbs, just short of the light-heavyweight limit.

Canelo expects Kovalev to begin their fight at approximately 190lbs after re-hydrating, he has said.

There is no clause for Kovalev vs Canelo for a second weigh-in.

“I’m not a middleweight”

Canelo’s legacy, at the moment, will be his two classic middleweight title fights against Gennadiy Golovkin (he won the rematch after a draw). But that was the first time he had ever weighed-in at 160lbs limit.

Canelo was already a middleweight world champion by virtue of beating Miguel Cotto then defending his belt against Amir Khan, but both of those fights were at an agreed 155lbs catchweight.

“I’m not a middleweight,” Canelo said before facing Khan. “I’m a super-welterweight (154lbs). That’s my weight class.”

The heaviest Canelo

Saturday’s fight against Kovalev will be Canelo’s third above the 160lbs (middleweight) division.

Before facing Golovkin he beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr at a 164.5lbs catchweight. Then, last December after his two fights with Golovkin, he won gold as a super-middleweight (168lbs) by stopping Rocky Fielding.

On both occasions his physique was noticeably less ripped than when he was 8lbs lighter to fight Golovkin.

The Mexican insists he will weigh-in at exactly 175lbs to face Kovalev, and not come in intentionally lighter.

Learning a valuable lesson

Canelo was on the receiving end of weight-related difficulties when he faced Floyd Mayweather in 2013.

Canelo was defending his super-welterweight titles (154lbs) but was forced to lose an extra two pounds to meet a catchweight insisted upon by Mayweather.

“They wanted me to go to 147lbs,” Canelo claimed. He lost for the only time in his 55-fight career.

The early days

Canelo missed weight before beating Matthew Hatton at a 150lbs catchweight, the same limit that he had previously been fighting welterweights (147lbs) at.

He and opponent Ryan Rhodes both came in lighter than the 154lbs limit in 2011. Rhodes has since told Sky Sports: “Just before the bell rang, when he entered the ring, he was absolutely huge. It was like another opponent from the weigh-in. I went into the fight at 11st 9lbs, while he went into the ring at 12st 8lbs. Nearly a stone heavier than me.

“We both made the weight, but you could not control how much weight he was going to put on.”

Rhodes’ estimation that Canelo entered the ring after re-hydrating at 12st 8lbs equals 176lbs… one pound above the light-heavyweight limit that he will meet Kovalev at.

Source: James Dielhenn