Canelo vs. Chavez Jr: Maybe a Night’s Worth of Entertainment

Finally it’s here, the 164.5 pound catch-weight bout between soaring Mexican sensation Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 48-1-1 (34) and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr 50-2-1 (32), the son of legendary Julio Cesar Chavez. The fight is getting a lot of hype because in the United States and Mexico, Canelo is the biggest draw in boxing, at least for the moment. But I suspect that won’t be the case once IBF/WBA heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua makes his North American debut.

When Canelo-Chavez was announced, I wrote that it is not much more than a potentially fan friendly bout in which the result won’t change boxing’s landscape in the middleweight division – unless Chavez, 31, wins. And even at that, if Canelo were to lose, you better believe there would be an immediate rematch. Going one-step further, if Canelo won the rematch I wouldn’t be surprised if they fought a rubber match just to keep Gennady Golovkin on the sideline and getting older by the minute.

When a fighter is a draw like Canelo, 26, he usually has the latitude to make fights like the Chavez bout that are nothing more than money grabs, fully aware that his niche of dedicated fans will buy it. So in all honesty, the Canelo-Chavez bout is relevant in the Mexican community — based on their Latin genes, the fight is a natural — but in the overall picture it’s nothing more than a fight that will give boxing fans something to watch and debate for a few days.

Since 2012, Alvarez has been busier, having fought ten times against some of the biggest names in boxing, including Floyd Mayweather, the only fighter that he didn’t beat. During that same time Chavez fought eight times, winning six along with dropping a decision to Sergio Martinez and getting stopped by Andrzej Fonfara. Canelo has been the more consistent fighter and, in the eyes of most observers, is more skilled and more disciplined. Canelo is in it to make his mark and etch out a legacy that will be remembered long after he’s retired. Conversely, Chavez is a fighter who only does it because he’s good at it and it pays him well. However, this time I don’t think it can be disputed that Julio is very serious about this fight and I’d count on him bringing his “A” game.

One of the things that bothers me about this fight is that Canelo has never fought above 155 whereas Chavez fought at 168 in his last fight (and he reportedly struggled to get there). The contracted weight for the bout is 164.5 and Julio will supposedly be docked a million dollars for every pound he’s over the weight — which I tend to think won’t be the case. I’m hoping that I’m right because I don’t want to accept that Chavez is that much of a glutton or can be that sloppy and stupid. So I’m going to assume Chavez makes weight on the first try.

With that assumption, the intrigue becomes whether Chavez being the bigger guy becomes a factor. I doubt Chavez thinks he’s going to win by out-boxing Canelo because he must know Alvarez has the slightly quicker hands and the judges will be looking to shade rounds for him for the obvious reason that he makes for bigger fights down the road. But if Julio is the stronger guy, maybe he can somewhat offset the skill and speed advantage Canelo owns. It also cannot be overlooked that Canelo hasn’t been in with a fighter who could out-muscle and move him around, nor has he ever really fought a true middleweight weighing 160 pounds. He’s been feasting on smaller fighters the likes of Miguel Cotto and Amir Khan.

Conversely, if Chavez is drained at the weight, which is very plausible, he’ll be in trouble. Going by the video and pictures of Chavez recently, it’s worth noting that he looks almost too thin and no longer has a fighter’s body. In addition, Chavez hasn’t scored a stoppage win in nearly five years, not since halting Andy Lee in a fight that he was trailing through the six completed rounds.

Canelo has a terrific chin and I doubt Chavez at full strength would stop him. As noted, Canelo is the more rounded fighter and Chavez’s only true weapon over him is size and perceived physicality. Minus that, he loses at every turn and Canelo could look like the most complete fighter in boxing – because Chavez won’t go quietly, affording Canelo a few rounds to pot-shot him and pick his spots to get off with two- and three-punch combinations at his leisure.

The one factor in the fight that adds intrigue for me is Chavez’s new trainer, Nacho Beristain. He’s the best trainer in boxing and if there’s anyone who can find an angle for Julio to exploit his height and reach advantage, it’s Beristain. But does Chavez have the capability to execute Nacho’s battle plan once he is hit and caught up in the moment?

Canelo has shown against slow ponderous guys he can fight, counter and slip a few shots with his back to the ropes. And if forced to assume the role as the attacker, he can do that as long as the opponent isn’t a good mover. On paper Nacho might devise a way for Julio to have success, but guiding the lesser fighter to implement what is required for him to pull it off is another story altogether. Oscar De La Hoya, Canelo’s promoter, says he’s worried about the outcome because of Beristain’s wisdom, and he should be. But if you remember, when Nacho trained Oscar for his fight with Manny Pacquiao, De La Hoya looked dead from losing the weight he needed to in order to get back down to welterweight….and Chavez has had to lose more weight than Oscar did.

The only way the fight means anything other than a night’s worth of entertainment for fight fans is if Canelo loses. I don’t see that happening and look for Canelo to win by a late round stoppage or by unanimous decision if the fight goes the distance.

Lastly, like many boxing fans, I’m tired of Canelo, the boxing “diva,” fighting catch-weight bouts that force his opponents to move up or down in weight. There are really only a few fights worth our money to see Canelo partake in…..so wake me when he agrees to meet Gennady Golovkin, Jermall Charlo or Daniel Jacobs in a full-fledged 160-pound title bout.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

Mexican sensation

COMMENTS

-Kid Blast :

Franks been on a big roll of late. His last paragraph says it all for me. As for the fight itself, I see Canelo punishing Junior for several rounds before the slaughter is stopped. Hope I'm wrong.. Great job Frank


-Kid Blast :

Franks been on a big roll of late. His last paragraph says it all for me. As for the fight itself, I see Canelo punishing Junior for several rounds before the slaughter is stopped. Hope I'm wrong.. Great job Frank


-Brad :

Floyd forced opponents into catch-weight bouts, Pacquiao did, Cotto had Martinez in a 159 lb catch-weight for Martinez's "middleweight" title! Hell Sugar Ray Leonard had Donny LaLonde fight at a 167 catch-weight for Donny's light heavy weight title!!! Canelo is simply playing his role as top-of-the-food-chain fighter. He makes the rules you follow. It's not being a "diva" it's being the "boss" in today's boxing world. I blame Sugar Ray for this. LOL


-vjoe :

Can't help but pull for Chavez as the catch weight is ciearly in place to disadvantage him, but hard to picture him winning. However, if he's not totally drained from making weight...maybe, just maybe Chavez manages to push pace and turn this into a slug fest by middle/late rounds. Remember how befuddled Canelo looked when lying on the ropes in second half of PBF fight? (btw...did anyone catch Oscar DeLaHoya saying this is the most significant match up ever of two Mexican fighters? gotta give him credit for trying to sell the fight, but please.....).


-brownsugar :

Heredia did a good job with Chavez coming in at 164lbs. One-half pound under weight....impressive, what's gotten into this guy? Bravo. And it sounds like jr had a good camp. So we may see some fairly decent work out of Chavez. But truthfull ...(as already mentioned)where would you rank Chavez in any weight class....top 25....top 20 at best ? The media spoke alot about how Chavez looks.... But almost nothing was said about Canelo. Even though the young champ put on extra weight, his face looked as drawn as if he only weighed the junior middleweight limit. This kid isnt packing any extra baggage.. He's packing extra violence. I still think Canelo stops Chavez late. We shall soon see how this grudge match transpires. The moment has arrived.


-amayseng :

Heredia did a good job with Chavez coming in at 164lbs. One-half pound under weight....impressive, what's gotten into this guy? Bravo. And it sounds like jr had a good camp. So we may see some fairly decent work out of Chavez. But truthfull ...(as already mentioned)where would you rank Chavez in any weight class....top 25....top 20 at best ? The media spoke alot about how Chavez looks.... But almost nothing was said about Canelo. Even though the young champ put on extra weight, his face looked as drawn as if he only weighed the junior middleweight limit. This kid isnt packing any extra baggage.. He's packing extra violence. I still think Canelo stops Chavez late. We shall soon see how this grudge match transpires. The moment has arrived.
No he didnt, make weight and being healthy enough to fight after making weight are two different things. Chavez made the weight, but he had absolutely NOTHING left. That was the worst attempt in a fight that I can remember, Chavez barely even through any punches and his reactions were very delayed. You could tell his brain was struggling to process and his body was further behind, his organs were not operating properly either. This kinda thing is unsafe and unhealthy and could ruin a fighters life, health wise. Chavez knew he had nothing so he chose just to survive and keep away. This fight hurts Canelo's preparation with GGG, it is like being an all state basketball player as a senior in high school and going to the playground to beat up on 8th graders, you decline not progress for the next challenge. GGG is visably taller than Canelo and Canelo got little man syndrome when he entered the ring. Canelo is in big trouble as GGG will have him going backward all night reacting and wearing down quickly.


-amayseng :

Heredia did a good job with Chavez coming in at 164lbs. One-half pound under weight....impressive, what's gotten into this guy? Bravo. And it sounds like jr had a good camp. So we may see some fairly decent work out of Chavez. But truthfull ...(as already mentioned)where would you rank Chavez in any weight class....top 25....top 20 at best ? The media spoke alot about how Chavez looks.... But almost nothing was said about Canelo. Even though the young champ put on extra weight, his face looked as drawn as if he only weighed the junior middleweight limit. This kid isnt packing any extra baggage.. He's packing extra violence. I still think Canelo stops Chavez late. We shall soon see how this grudge match transpires. The moment has arrived.
No he didnt, make weight and being healthy enough to fight after making weight are two different things. Chavez made the weight, but he had absolutely NOTHING left. That was the worst attempt in a fight that I can remember, Chavez barely even through any punches and his reactions were very delayed. You could tell his brain was struggling to process and his body was further behind, his organs were not operating properly either. This kinda thing is unsafe and unhealthy and could ruin a fighters life, health wise. Chavez knew he had nothing so he chose just to survive and keep away. This fight hurts Canelo's preparation with GGG, it is like being an all state basketball player as a senior in high school and going to the playground to beat up on 8th graders, you decline not progress for the next challenge. GGG is visably taller than Canelo and Canelo got little man syndrome when he entered the ring. Canelo is in big trouble as GGG will have him going backward all night reacting and wearing down quickly.