Canelo Hasn’t Improved Since Fighting Mayweather – This past Saturday night lineal middleweight champ Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 47-1-1 (33) scored a sensational sixth round one-punch knockout over former two division title holder Amir Khan 31-4 (19). The right hander that dropped and stopped Khan was a thing of beauty. It was short, direct and right on the chin. Amir was out on the way down, and when he landed his body and head bounced off the canvas and there was no need to count because the fight was over. The knockout scored by Alvarez was pretty much what most everyone expected going into the bout, and yes, the one-punch knockout, which is rare among elite fighters, doesn’t come as a shock either because Amir is not known for being the greatest catcher.
In the aftermath Alvarez is being celebrated and in most boxing circles the chatter is centered on when and if he’ll meet Gennady Golovkin 35-0 (32) who holds the WBA/IBF middleweight titles. After the bout, while being interviewed in the ring, Alvarez said that he doesn’t fear anyone but didn’t exactly commit himself to meeting Golovkin in his next bout. And you know what, although I would favor Golovkin if they met, Alvarez wouldn’t be a no-hope prey touching hands with GGG because of their style clash. Because if we know one thing for certain, it’s that Canelo won’t have to seek out Golovkin the way he was forced to against Khan.
Yes, Canelo’s highlight reel KO of Amir Khan is memorable, but it’s not what stands out in my mind pertaining to the bout, no, not by a long shot. What stood out to me during the bout is just how inept Alvarez is when he has to carry the action and fight as the pursuer or the attacker. It was on the verge of embarrassing just how many wild left-hooks and right hands he missed during the first five rounds of the fight. I can’t remember when was the last time I saw an elite fighter move his hands with his feet planted instead of stepping with the punch fighting a guy who was moving away and to one side or the other. Alvarez was no doubt confused, unimaginative, and slow — everything he was when he fought Floyd Mayweather. Only this time he wasn’t in with a special fighter and was saved by his power against a fighter who lacked the strength and chin to stand his ground.
In truth Canelo hasn’t improved since he fought Floyd Mayweather, not at all, and if they fought again, it would be a rerun of the first fight in spite of the fact that Floyd may have slowed and isn’t quite what he was almost three years ago. Granted, Alvarez’s ineptness to cut off the ring and close the distance against a fighter who is moving and picking his spots won’t be an issue when he fights Golovkin. However, it’s another layer of undeniable proof that Saul hasn’t really improved technically as a fighter. I was completely astounded by how far Alvarez stepped back after the clinches in the fight. There were times after they were separated that Khan, who should’ve been on his heels at all times, didn’t have to move a bit because Alvarez moved so far away on his own volition to reset after they were broken apart. And he didn’t do this just once or twice; it was nearly every time they had to be separated. It’s unfathomable that his corner never mentioned to him that he was giving away his entire advantage.
The thing that saved Alvarez was that he and Golden Boy Promotions probably knew deep down inside that he could erase any mistakes he made during the fight with one punch. And that’s a big reason why Khan was the opponent. Amir put up a good fight and definitely showed up to win and not just get paid. He also knew how to fight Alvarez and grasped what Saul’s limitations were. His problem ended up being physics and physicality. His smart boxing and movement were simply short-circuited by Alvarez’s overload in strength and punching power, assets that he’s not going to automatically own as his career continues to progress.
Alvarez is a hard worker, he’s a good not great two handed puncher, but he needs everything just right for him to be really effective. He’s sort of like an NFL quarterback who is great when he has time to throw and the field conditions are ideal. But then again there’s the other guy who lives inside of him who is mistake-prone and comes undone if all is not in balance. That is somewhat the way I see Canelo as a fighter. He has two left feet if his opponent resists him and doesn’t cooperate…..but if they plant their feet and give him something to counter without movement, he’s a very dangerous fighter.
Alvarez is a very tough guy, believe me, and I have no issue regarding his character and mental constitution. When he says he has no fear of Golovkin, I believe him. And from a style perspective, Golovkin will be less bothersome for him than Khan was. It’s just that he has the same problem versus GGG that Khan had against him, and that is does he have the strength and power to keep Golovkin from overwhelming him? In addition to that, can he stand up to Gennady’s full assault and have anything left to answer it with? That’s how the bout will be decided, and as of this time I don’t think he’ll be able to stay with Golovkin. In actuality there isn’t one thing he does better than GGG. The only question is whether he can last the distance with him.
Golovkin fights stylistically the way Canelo prefers his opponents to fight him. The problem, in all likelihood, is that Golovkin has too much strength and durability for him. I’d be surprised if they fought in their next fight, but that isn’t because Alvarez fears him……it’s more the case that he wants the fight to marinate a little more as we saw with Mayweather-Pacquiao.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com