Canleo vs Chavez Jr is on! By: Bakari SImpson January 14, 2017
Just as a genuine mega-Mexican showdown appeared to be a bust everything fell into place. On May 6th, 2017 Cinco De Mayo Weekend, boxing cash cow Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KO’s) will face the unpredictable Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (50-2-1, 35 KO’s).
On-going behind the scenes negotiations had been underway for a little while. However the proceedings appeared to hit some sort of snag. Suddenly the private bartering became public bickering; a common phenomenon in the sport.
The historically erratic Chavez Jr was the first take to social media.
Julio claimed that it was Golden Boy Promotions gumming of the gears of progress. In very quick fashion Oscar De La Hoya retorted via Twitter. The legendary former fighter flat-out accused Julio of bold-face lying about the entire situation. Oscar maintained that a contract had been draft, presented to Chavez and only awaited his signature. The broadcasted finger pointing left the impression that the negotiation process was soon to implode.
Despite how bleak this squabbling looked from this side of the curtain, ultimately the two camps worked it all out. The fight is now signed, sealed and delivered.
Thinking about the fight from Canelo’s standpoint is admittedly a little quizzical. Unless, that is, you view it as essentially flipping the bird to Gennady Golovkin. Again.
It’s no secret that Golovkin has been chasing a fight with Canelo. At one point just last year, Golovkin was mere inches away from a rumble for Alvarez’s WBC middleweight strap. This mouth-watering fight seemed a no-brainer and had no obstacles preventing it. Then in a shocking last minute move Canelo vacated the WBC strap.
One of the supposed major sticking points for team Canelo when dealing with team GGG was weight. They doggedly maintained that Canelo was not properly acclimated to 160 despite his undeniable size and weight. So, instead of penning a contract with Golovkin at 160, Saul went the Amir Khan, Kell Brook route. Alvarez curiously jumped over middleweight completely to duke it out with a super middleweight. Kind of.
In lieu of fighting at the full 168 super middleweight limit Canelo and Chavez will fight at a catch weight of 164.5 lbs. Canelo-weight 2.0. This could turn out to be the deciding factor in the fight.
Chavez has never been accused of being the most dedicated, disciplined or even skilled fighter. On the other hand Chavez jr is well regarded for his power, size and chin. If Jr trains seriously and comes to the ring focused this could spell real trouble for Canelo. An in shape, hard-charging Chavez Jr could realistically provide Alvarez his second defeat. Unfortunately, it’s also a very real possibility that Chavez could destroy himself well before fight night attempting to make weight.
Going into the fight I think it’s fairly unanimously thought that Canelo owns the monopoly of skill. The redhead Mexican superstar has grown leaps and bounds as a boxer since his sole defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr. His punch combinations are a thing of beauty to watch. Accompanying Alvarez’s dazzling in-ring skill is a rather impressive resume. At the relatively young age of 26 Canelo has faced: Kermit Cintron, Shane Mosley, Austin Trout, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan and the aforementioned ‘Money’ Mayweather.
Those are plush feathers in Alvarez’s cap.
Not everything is in his favor though. Canelo will be moving up in weight to face a much bigger man. Beyond the weight Canelo will be the significantly shorter fighter. Stamina may also become a serious factor in this bout.
Admittedly, stamina has not been an issue in his last few fights. However, those bouts have been largely fought on ‘cruise-control.’ At no point did Liam Smith, Amir Khan, Miguel Cotto or James Kirkland force Saul to ‘dig deep.’ For the better part of it Saul was able to control the pace of these outings rather easily with only minor adjustments when needed. Even during the rounds that he may not have won Saul was never getting beat up, notably outclassed or pushed to exertion. Merely momentarily out hustled. Yet there was a time when Canelo’s stamina was under great scrutiny. Perhaps a hard charging, granite-chinned Chavez Jr can use his high pressure style to push Saul past his limits.
Aside from this, Chavez is coming off a 1 year lay-off yet Canelo is coming off a hand injury. During the course of his last tour in the ring, against the verbose Amir Khan, Saul managed to break his right hand. Since this fight he has undergone the requisite surgery and rehab.
All in all this is a great big money prizefight for the fighters and a fun all action grudge-match for the fans. And this contest, which will fall on the Cinco De Mayo holiday weekend, is being contested by two actual Mexicans. These two superstar personalities should blend well into a ferocious battle for homeland bragging rights. The bout cant’ get here quick enough!