Boxing’s Most Bankable Fighter Isn’t Even the Best in His Weight Class


JERMALL CHARLO, ANDRADE, AND CANELO — The second weekend of December was one of the best weekends of professional boxing in the last couple of years.  It started off in New Zealand with two undefeated young heavyweights, Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz, clashing for the vacant WBO title. Parker won a moderately spirited contest via a majority decision. A little later that day, undefeated IBF heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua demolished challenger Eric Molina via a third round stoppage. There was also another high profile heavyweight clash on the undercard of Joshua-Molina, which saw Dillian Whyte win a hard fought split decision over Dereck Chisora. And later that night, perhaps the most complete fighter in professional boxing, Terence Crawford, dismantled former title challenger John Molina Jr.

Going on at the same time as the Crawford-Molina fight was a bout at the USC Galen Center in Los Angeles where IBF junior middleweight title holder Jermall Charlo, now 25-0 (19), defended his belt against an undefeated top ranked contender in Julian Williams, now 22-1-1 (14). Charlo, who has been flying a little under the radar, had Williams down three times on his way to posting a 5th round stoppage in his third successful title defense. Charlo may have landed the shot of the weekend when he dropped Williams with a lethal counter right uppercut, answering Williams’ nicely placed one-two that found Charlo’s chin. Williams beat the 10-count but was immediately dropped again after Charlo unloaded on him and the fight was over.

Prior to the bout, most observers favored Williams to come out on top even though on paper it was thought to be a toss-up fight. Charlo, after scoring the signature win of his career, wasn’t at a loss for words.   

“I want to unify the WBO with Canelo [Alvarez], the WBC or WBA. Where are you [Canelo]? I want to prove I’m the best junior middleweight in the world,” Charlo said. “None of them are on my level. I’ve worked very hard throughout my career. I haven’t been given anything.”

Charlo, who isn’t the most humble fighter around, called out the most bankable fighter in the sport, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who has been toying with fighting Gennady Golovkin for the last year. And in the eyes of most boxing pundits, a confrontation between Canelo and GGG is the biggest fight in the sport. Yes, that’s right – a matchup between the world’s best middleweight and perhaps the third best junior middleweight is a super fight?  Canelo, the biggest draw in boxing, is maybe the third best junior middleweight behind unbeaten southpaw Demetrius Andrade and Jermall Charlo. Canelo isn’t even one of the top 10 pound for pound fighters in the sport. 

Yes, Alvarez is in a tough spot. The boxing world is dying to see him fight Golovkin sometime in the coming New Year. The only problem with that is that Canelo’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, doesn’t seem to think his fighter can handle the middleweight champ. No, I don’t think Alvarez fears Golovkin, but it’s not totally his call pertaining to who he fights. De La Hoya is well aware that it doesn’t matter who Canelo fights, a large contingent of Mexican and Latino fans will either show up in person or buy the fight on PPV. So if you’re De La Hoya, why fight Golovkin when you can continue to bank a fortune picking lesser opponents? Both Canelo and Oscar know that the fight with GGG will always be there whenever they want it, as long as GGG doesn’t lose, which doesn’t look like much of a risk for the time being.

Canelo had two fights in 2016, opposing Amir Khan and Liam Smith. Kahn was too physically small to really threaten him and Liam Smith didn’t really belong in the same ring with him. However, Saul made a ton of money and didn’t absorb the slightest bit of wear and tear on his body during either fight. So you can see why there’s no rush to touch gloves with Golovkin — especially knowing the longer they wait to make the fight, the bigger it will become financially and the older the 34-year old Golovkin gets. The only trouble that could be down the road in 2017 is that somewhere along the line Canelo is either going to have to fight Andrade or Charlo, or abandon the 154-pound class and move up to 160 and meet Golovkin.

As you can see, Canelo cannot continue to ignore the other elite junior middleweights in the division demanding to fight him. Well, he can, but how long can he save face doing it? Complicating the plot for him is that he’s not an automatic favorite over either Andrade or Charlo. Actually, I think there are more than a few observers who consider Alvarez an underdog to both. 

In a match up against either guy, what exactly does Alvarez hold over them as a fighter?  I’ll argue that both Andrade and Charlo own guns big enough to mix with him and they’re more athletic. Yes, Canelo has a great chin and he’s bulldog tough. But he can be nullified by speed and athleticism, something both Andrade and Charlo possess.

Stylistically, Alvarez is a counter-puncher; however, he’s one of those counter-punchers who usually forces the action. This ultimately sets him up to walk into their power. In addition to that, Alvarez is a big time body puncher, but he has to bring his hands down to do that, which is very dangerous to attempt in the midst of carrying the action to an opponent waiting to crack him with front and back hand leads. Both Andrade and Charlo would relish Canelo bringing the fight to them while looking to do some body punching.  Moreover, if he ignores going to the body, he’ll have to make his left hook a major factor — which means he’ll have to get close and on the inside….and there will be a price to pay for that, especially if he doesn’t find the right blend of timing and distance.

Of course I’m not writing Alvarez off in the junior middleweight division.  He’s capable of beating Andrade and Charlo if he fights to his best ability, I think.  It’s just that Charlo’s impressive showing versus Julian Williams clearly highlights that the most bankable fighter in boxing can’t claim that he stands any higher than the third best fighter in his division! Not without significant resistance.

Photo credit: Stephanie Trapp, SHOWTIME

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-Kid Blast :

Great analysis Frank. If someone could manage Andrede's career properly, he could be the best in my estimation. Charlo fights with a rare intensity and urgency. He is very dangerous. Boo Boo is a slick as Lubrizol.

-Chris L :

Some pretty biased and ridiculous claims here. Andrade has fought four times in the last four years and his best win is a split decision over Vanes Martyrosian, Charlo has a bit more depth to his resume, but his best win is a UD over Trout whom Canelo beat decisively over three years ago. If Canelo was from the US, you'd probably be touting him as the next p4p king, but because he isn't, he's 'not even the best in his division'. All of your articles are biased, but this claim is just ridiculous.

-dino da vinci :

Then you're really going to be upset when Frank launches our new site January 1, 2017

-Paul Kevin :

Impressive analysis