Think about it: It’s 2013, and you’ve just heard that Gennady Golovkin and Sergey Kovalev, chief boxing kaiju and chief deputy boxing kaiju, are fighting on HBO on back-to-back weekends. Your head is probably swimming with possibilities. Golovkin just might be facing off against super middleweight king Andre Ward! Kovalev — is he fighting light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson? Goodie! This will be a summer to remember!
Obviously, it’s 2014 and none of that is happening soon, if ever, because even when boxing gives us the gift of such pure, undiluted punching power like Golovkin and Kovalev bring, it finds a way to water down the awe that comes with it by getting so politically fractured as to make impossible for us to see how it fares against the best in the world.
So what we get is Golovkin, last Saturday, in a solid challenge, the best of his career, even, but well short of the kind of challenge we want most for him. And what we get this weekend, for Kovalev, is a solid opponent, a fringe top 10 contender, who probably will, at best, tell us something about how he would fare with a different style than we’ve seen him in against — Blake Caparello. It’s still a real pleasure to watch Golovkin and Kovalev operate, always. It’s bittersweet, is all.
So what can the Aussie Caparello do that others couldn’t? Well, he’s awkward, that’s for sure. He’s a left-hander who, like many fighters of this generation, looks as though he grew up pretending to be Roy Jones, Jr. in the mirror, but with a fraction of the raw physical tools. He does keep his left glove high to block — he’s not as reckless as Jones. He has a looping left, a looping right and a solid 1-2 combo, and will fire an uppercut inside, although rarely any kind of body attack.
He is trapped easily on the ropes, which is bad news, yet he is fairly slippery once trapped. Some fighters get backed down and languish. He gets backed down and escapes fairly quickly, sometimes by firing counters.
He has faced exactly zero elite opponents, and fought to a majority decision over an undistinguished Kiwi, Daniel MacKinnon, somehow. He dominated Elvir Muriqi, something everyone does these days. Based on the limited available evidence, he can take a punch — Allan Green packs some power, and Caparello withstood it. He has said all the right things about respecting Kovalev’s power without fearing it.
It’s at least possible that he can, as his promoter Lou DiBella has suggested, exploit some of the openings Kovalev’s last opponent, Cedric Agnew, pointed toward, namely that Agnew frustrated Kovalev with his defense and movement. But it’s also true what Kovalev’s trainer John David Jackson said: Caparello has not demonstrated, to date, a desire to merely survive, as Agnew primarily did. Caparello wants to mix it up, which gives him a chance to win rather than just survive, but also puts him in range to get knocked out by Kovalev.
Which is what Kovalev does — knock people out. Everyone. He’s so powerful, so precise, so well-schooled. Oh, he’s relatively slow, and he’s not exactly mobile. He’s reasonably good defensively, nothing special. But his offensive arsenal, and his ability to utilize it, is superb. He’s not so adept at cutting off the ring as Golovkin, but he does more than enough of it to get off his punches, and if he gets off many of his punches he’ll score or hurt or both.
So let’s go this far: Caparello will give Kovalev his toughest fight since arriving on the world stage. And that’s that. He hasn’t had a tough fight at all since 2010, when he encountered always troublesome gatekeeper Darnell Boone and won by split decision. But Caparello won’t survive for a decision. He’ll stay competitive over the first half of the fight, possibly winning one or two but more likely not doing quite enough. Over the second half of the fight, it could turn into an ugly beat down where Caparello’s corner or the ref or the doctor save him.
At least there’s the potential of Kovalev-Bernard Hopkins after this — and “potential” is the key word, because we’ve seen Kovalev-Stevenson fall through before.