The Mexican culture has celebrated Cinco de Mayo ever since the unlikely victory over French forces at the battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862. Over recent decades boxing has paid homage to the proud Mexican warriors of that battle by showcasing main events high lighting title fights featuring Mexican and Spanish champions. Some of the best known legends of the last quarter century have proudly engaged in fistic warfare paying homage to the brave warriors of that battle including Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosely, Juan Manuel Marquez, Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo, Floyd Mayweather, JR., Ricardo Mayorga, Yori Boy Campos, Frankie Randall, Canelo Alvarez, Pernell Whitaker, Buddy McGirt, Miguel Angel Gonzalez and Miguel Cotto to name a few.
Fast forward to May 6, 2017 Fathom Events, Golden Boy Promotions and HBO will honor the Cinco de Mayo weekend by promoting Canelo Alvarez Vs Julio Cesar Chavez, JR. in the battle of catch weight kings. Before my readers go all weepy with humble gratitude and respect for the event keep this in mind. Not to be ungrateful for spectacle but the date has been proven to be a guaranteed money maker for pay per view outlets and Canelo is the most bankable protégé of HBO regardless of who he fights. My topic heading sounds like the corny names Don King would adhere to his main events but there is simply no other way to sell this fight. You can wrap it in heritage and serenade it with Mariachi bands until the next coming of Dia De Muetos (Day of the Dead) but as exciting as this fight appears on paper its result will not resonate in the annals of boxing history without a tangible title on the line. (*Inexplicably, Ring Magazine still ranks Canelo Alvarez as the number one middleweight in the world holding their title, and considered lineal champion even though Alvarez voluntarily abdicated WBC belt he won from Miguel Cotto just days after defending it against Amir Kahn last Cinco de Mayo.) Bout to be hosted by T-Mobil Arena, Paradise Nevada and broadcast by HBO PPV.
Canelo Alvarez stands 5’9” with a 70 ½“reach. The 26 year old has been a pro an astonishing dozen years already in compiling a handsome record of 48-1-1, 34 KO’s. The lone loss came by decision to Floyd Mayweather, JR. when the money man quite possibly peaked and turned in his finest performance. Alvarez is an orthodox boxer who hails from Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico.
Julio Cesar Chavez, JR. stands 6’1” with a 73” wingspan. The 31 year old is from boxing royalty being son of hall of famer Julio Cesar Chavez out of Culiacan, Sinaloa Mexico and also fights from traditional orthodox stance. Chavez turned pro in 2003 compiling an admirable record of 50-2-1, 32 KO’s.
Alvarez won WBO junior middleweight title stopping England’s Liam Smith by 9th round TKO last September. Smith resembled Canelo in style and ability but was simply overwhelmed having never faced American contenders across the pond.
Chavez last fought in December winning a 10 round light heavyweight bout by unanimous decision over Dominic Britsch.
Alvarez has been spoiled of late having his last half dozen fights agreed to at catch weights. This doozy was contracted for 164.5 pounds. Yes reader, this “is” the super middleweight division with a 168 pound ceiling but Oscar De La Hoya likes to give the “Golden Goose” in his Golden Boy stable every edge possible. Canelo has been entering ring at 170 lbs plus for years while insisting he is a junior middleweight even while he held lineal middleweight belt. Universally recognized multiple belt holder Gennady Golovkin has been trying to lure Alvarez into the ring for over three years in what has turned into the most anticipated match since Floyd Mayweather, JR. made Manny Pacquiao wait five years for their super match to become reality. This fight can’t wait five years and its expiration date will expire for sure if bout isn’t made this year.
More fascinating than the catch weight is the particulars surrounding it in contract. It has been well documented that Chavez has lazy training habits and several times has been unable to make contracted weight at weigh ins. Having Chavez struggle with the scales is not only a physical ploy to sap his strength before first bell rings but there is also the mental mind games at play that he has to sacrifice more in training than Alvarez does and instigated a clause that Julio forfeits 1 million dollars for every pound he is over the contracted weight. Chavez was out dueled at bargaining table and forced to settle for a six million dollar guarantee and a percentage of the gross. Naturally Canelo gets lion share of the promotion including gate and pay per view.
Of Chavez’s two losses he was stopped by Andrzej Fonfara in 9 rounds in a light heavyweight bout in 2015. His first loss three years earlier he was being shut out on score cards by middleweight champion Sergio Martinez before almost pulling off an upset in final minute of 12th round in eerily similar fashion when his Dad beat Meldrick Taylor back in 1990 with two seconds left on clock.
Julio, JR. has been known as a problem child and difficult to train. One time trainer legendary Freddie Roach grew bored of Chavez’s unusual training habits of 4 am inside the boxer’s home and decided to part ways after a few fights. After the Martinez bout Chavez tested positive for Cannabis and suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission who also fined him 900 thousand. He was fined another 20 grand by World Boxing Council and suspended indefinitely. Naturally when this bout was set in motion WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman claimed it was a very attractive fight and would likely get the World Boxing Council involved in the fight. Yes hypocrisy does come with a price tag.
Canelo is an outstanding fighter with hall of fame credentials already and just approaching his prime. His critics will claim he is a cherry picker who picks on blown up welterweights while refusing to tackle the legit challenges in his natural weight realm. Perhaps after this fight the world finally sees the newest version of fight of the century against Golovkin come to fruition for the good of all boxing or expect things to only get worse.
What to look for on fight night:
The previous day weigh in alone will be news worthy event like none we’ve seen in recent years. Early training camps reports have surfaced on internet with Chavez, JR. finally taking his career by the reigns and diligently working his tail off giving himself the best possible chance of securing a win. There is a hint of doubt in De La Hoya’s brain thrust that this could quite possibly be the Buster Douglas pantheon moment of Chavez’s career if he is ready to put it all on the line so there is a rematch clause in effect! While Julio is already appearing svelte and feeling lethal it will be an interesting revelation to see how much he rehydrates overnight. Will he foolishly elect to enter ring a cruiserweight who gets sluggish in mid-rounds and runs out of gas or will he choose to hover just a tad over 170 where he can maintain the energy for the footwork and combinations he is going to need to win this fight.
Canelo has all the tools to turn back the challenge of any fighter except one. He is a terribly flat footed fighter. Against Mayweather, JR. it cost him dearly in every round where he could pull the trigger as fast as Floyd but his heavy feet kept him missing by inches as Floyd would take an extra half step back, lean back, let punch miss then lean forward and counter on the button. In recent years he has failed to stop “boxers” like Shane Mosley, Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara, and Miguel Cotto while looking positively devastating when matched with flat footed like “fighters” Alfredo Angulo, James Kirkland and Liam Smith. He does possess however commanding power in every punch he throws and quite possibly owns the best uppercut in the business that he never fails to employ.
Alvarez when faced with a stationary target throws combinations with wicked leverage delivering full force trauma when he connects. His body weight is evenly distributed with a think neck which helps him absorb counters. When the bell rings he is relentless in walking his man down in single minded goal of pursing the knockout. When faced with an adversary of equal skills and better footwork he has to plant his feet to punch, move and reset with every single combination he throws.
A skilled boxer need only pivot, side step, back pedal or exhibit lateral movement to constantly keep him off his “A” game. Alvarez has learned some extraordinary defensive skills that he often displays in center ring daftly bending at waist leaning backwards or side to side shoulder rolls with subtle Mayweather moves which help frustrate opponents who feel they can beat him from outside the pocket. Add to this one of the best chins in any division and it’s hard to envision him being knockout by anyone at this weight. He throws every punch in the book with equal conviction.
Chavez, JR. has the tools to win but he would need to execute the perfect 12 round fight and have the wind power to never let up. Julio is also a flat footed fighter but oddly enough fleet footed none the less. He effortlessly can get up on balls of his feet to change directions, move backwards or side step danger. His long reach enables him to keep pursuers at arm’s length when changing tactics in mid combination. His chin rates a B+ not quite living up to the family legacy of the father. Deplorable training habits and life style may have worn away the God given attribute. In this bout his weapons and killer instinct can bring upon his ruination. Chavez, JR. often leads with a long left hook not predicated with a jab. Once inside the pocket the big man likes to explode a volley of crisp wicked left/right combos often throwing eight at a time. While lesser foes get overwhelmed backed into a corner and no breathing room it’s here he will meet the devil in his playground eye to eye.
Julio often neglects jabbing and doesn’t throw enough uppercuts in a blind pursuit in unleashing the same volley of carnage repeatedly. The right hand is delivered in tandem with the left and launched like a right hook rather than right cross inviting any counter punches straight up the middle. Leading with a left hook against a big right handed power puncher could spell disaster if he does it often enough to be timed.
While Chavez, JR. looks to impose his will on fighters Canelo is patiently setting traps and gaging distance as his power punches keep foes off balance or concentrating on defense.
Vegas odds makers have set the mark at -900 Canelo with +550 going Chavez, JR. / this line was set with businesslike acumen based heavily on work ethic and personalities as much as style and records.
I can safely guarantee this will be a much faster paced drama than last month’s let down of Jacobs versing Golovkin. I reckon this one to a stick of dynamite with a long fuse. While the ambers sparkle and intrigue us with anticipation fans will be hypnotized waiting for the big bang.
Chavez, JR. will look sharp early and may actual land on a three to 1 ratio. Canelo will walk his man down and happily oblige all inventions to a gunfight every time the opportunity presents itself. The difference will show after just a few rounds that Canelo possesses the better beard and for his size, hits harder with more accurate placement of power punches. While it is obvious that Julio is just as experienced inside the ring it can be easily argued, he has never beaten a great fighter. On this night he will be facing the best of his career.
Canelo Alvarez by TKO. Conventional wisdom is hard to separate from family pride and bravado. Canelo turns up the heat in round seven forcing a stoppage by 10th.
By the time this fight has climaxed the boxing fraternity will already be savvy as to whether or not an agreement with Gennady Golovkin will be set for September. It is expected that if verbal terms aren’t agreed upon in next week or so Oscar will pull the plug on negotiations claiming team Golovkin didn’t except their insulting offer or annoyed that GGG went ahead with June unification match with WBO belt holder Billy Joe Saunders. It has always been “GGG’s” personal goal to own all the middleweight straps with Saunders leather the only missing trinket to his collection. Should this bout take place and “GGG” takes possession of that he belt, he will also take control of the board room table leaving Oscar nothing to bargain with except complaints that his fighter is the bigger seller of pay per view events.
If Alvarez wants a real middleweight belt he has to come knock on Golovkin’s door. The alphabets love sanctioning fees for all the money each belt is worth to them. They also love Golovkin as he puts all his belts on line and makes the extortion payments with pride of ownership. Jacobs balked at money offered and lost in arbitration receiving 25%. With Gennady owning all the belts or even 4 out of 5, Alvarez comes to the table strapped with only pride. An upset lost to Chavez puts this mega bout in jeopardy of dying on vine forever. Alvarez fights only twice a year and would need to avenge loss with Julio first before coming back on Golovkin’s radar with the “Kazakh Thunder” turning 36 years of age and pasted his peak.
(* paragraph two: Oscar De la Hoya controls and owns Ring Magazine!)
Undercard: For fight fans willing to shell out the PPV bucks the promotion has added some attractive bouts to set the stage for main event.
David Lemieux, 37-3, 33 KO’s fresh off his three round knockout Of Curtis Stevens a few weeks ago takes on Marco Reyes 35-4, 26 KO’s in a 10 round middleweight bout.
Two undefeated boxers put their “0” on the line when Joseph Diaz, 23-0, 13 KO’S verses Manuel Avila, 22-0, 8 KO’s in a 10 round featherweight bout.
The return of former junior welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse, 37-4, 34 KO’s at same weight versing rugged and durable Emmanuel Taylor, 20-4, 14 KO’s will be an entertaining scrap to vie for contender ship status or fall to “opponent” status quo.
I’ll be handicapping two of the three undercard fights in a future article.
Stay tuned…Contact the Feature Writers