If you’re familiar with prizefighting you know the significance of Mexican idol versus Mexican idol.
Putting Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) versus Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs) means an army of Mexican fight fans will descend on Las Vegas like locusts on Saturday May 6 at the T-Mobile Arena. HBO pay-per-view will televise the Golden Boy Promotions card.
“The most difficult part of facing Chavez is that he’s Mexican,” said Eddy Reynoso, trainer for Alvarez. “And anytime you have a fight between two Mexicans, it’s a guaranteed spectacular fight and brings out that extra in a fighter, and makes it that much tougher and guarantees the war.”
Alvarez, now 26, will be fighting at his heaviest weight to accommodate the often over-weight Chavez at a pre-ordained 164 pounds. It’s nine pounds beyond the heaviest the redhead from Guadalajara has ever weighed the day before a fight.
“This is a little extra. There’s a little bit more motivation, of course, because of the rivalry, but it’s another one of my fights,” Alvarez says.
Still, the significance of fighting someone with a name that rings of boxing royalty was a challenge that could not go unchallenged. Not when many Mexican champions in the past had picked up the gauntlet.
And if you look even further back Mexicans have warred on each other for centuries before the arrival of Spaniards in 1521. They would shed rivers of blood in mock “Flower Wars” that saw an enemy army like the Tlaxcalans fight the Aztecs that would result in total slaughter of the invited army.
Of course that has changed.
But beginning in the 1960s Mexican champion versus Mexican champion saw rivalries emerge that would spread over the border to California, Texas and Nevada. Sugar Ramos versus Vicente Saldivar; Ruben Olivares versus Chucho Castillo; Carlos Zarate versus Alfonso Zamora, Marco Antonio Barrera versus Erik Morales and Rafael Marquez versus Israel Vazquez.
What the boxing world learned from those fierce Mexican battles was that scientific violence on an unparalleled scale erupted during those matches. Alvarez versus Chavez could potentially meet those same expectations.
As soon as the match was announced skeptics denounced it, but once they thought about it, many quickly recanted earlier remarks.
The Morales-Barrera factor
Remember when Erik Morales accepted a challenge from Marco Antonio Barrera in 2000?
When Morales took on Barrera many felt it was a mismatch. Barrera had been beaten twice by Junior Jones who was later destroyed by Morales. Most everyone predicted Morales would do the same to Barrera regardless of the Mexican vs. Mexican significance.
Their first battle at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on a rainy February night caused lightning storms outside and thunder in the boxing ring. The mayhem created by their first collision is considered one of the greatest fights of all time.
That’s what fans expect with Alvarez and Chavez.
“Look, there’s a very high percentage this fight could end by a knockout, because of our styles, obviously the weight, the size of each other. And obviously a knockout is spectacular, for the fighter, for the fans, and we’ll see,” said Alvarez.
Expect the usually glitzy city of Las Vegas to be glowing even brighter when Alvarez and Chavez meet. It may even rival when Golden Boy’s Oscar De La Hoya met Julio Cesar Chavez in their first encounter in 120 degree heat.
“It’s going to do very well and break some records,” says De La Hoya.
Who would know better than the Golden Boy?
Photo credit: Tom Hogan
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