One of the biggest fights in the history of Mexican boxing will take place at the T- Mobile arena in fabulous, Las Vegas Nevada. The new Golden Boy of Mexico Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez squares off against Julio Chavez Jr with the fighters ready to rumble on Cinco De Mayo weekend.
Chavez Jr has suffered from a lack of activity against top fighters but he is still a force to be reckoned with. He has only lost two fights in his whole career and his knockout loss against Fonfara back in 2015 was up at light heavyweight. I still consider Chavez as being tough and hard to stop despite that defeat. There are many in the game that believe Chavez is a washed up force but at 30 years of age I don’t believe he is over the hill. I believe he is capable of a world class performance if he is mentally tuned in and in 100 percent in condition.
Chavez has previously had trouble making the 168lbs super-middleweight limit but there is the possibility that it was just down to poor preparation or lack of motivation rather than physically outgrowing the division. That was proved when he lost at to Fonfara at light heavyweight. However it is a worry that he will become drained to make the 164.5lbs catch-weight.
Chavez Jr problems outside of the ring have been well documented. A lack of dedication has plagued his career and he has eventually been exposed in the big fights. But maybe that comes with being in the shadow of his father who was one of the greatest fighters the sport has ever witnessed. It is a heavy, heavy weight to bear for any fighter let alone when he is in the same sport as a fighter of his father’s calibre. Every fighter who steps in the ring against him raises their game. The chance to have the Cesar Chavez name on their fight record is like a badge of honour.
Training under Robert Garcia can only be beneficial. If there is anyone who can keep Chavez Jr focused its Garcia. He is a trainer who invests his time into the fighters outside of the training time in the gym and this could be the approach that will get the best from Chavez. In many ways this could be the perfect fight for Chavez. He is an underdog expected to lose yet this is a career defining night for him. In a fight of such magnitude the platform is set for him to step away from being ‘the son of legend’ into a fighter who will instantly be recognised in his own right for beating one of the best pound for pound fighters in the sport today.
The catchweight undoubtedly stacks the cards in Canelo’s favour though. This will be a good test to see how Canelo copes with facing off against a heavier man who likes to throw power shots and although Chavez Jr is not on the level of Golovkin he is a good opponent to face in preparation for him because he is big, strong, physical at close quarters and can punch hard. Perhaps this is the thinking behind team Canelo and Golden Boy promotions head Oscar De La Hoya matchmaking.
The fact that Canelo vacated his world title at 160lbs because he supposedly didn’t belong in that division physically, yet now chooses to fight higher up at 164.5lbs seems contradictory. However you can see that his team are steering the best possible course for his career. A collision with Golovkin seems inevitable at some point in the next couple of years and they are understandably keen to swing the smaller details in Canelo’s favour.
If Mayweather and perhaps Erislandy Lara to some extent set a blueprint on how to beat Canelo I don’t see Chavez being able to fight in that same manner. He is not slick and slippery enough to box on the outside with the jab. As easy as Mayweather made it look it takes an extremely skillful operator to execute that game-plan against him.
The two fighters’ styles should gel really well for an all action toe to toe shootout although I believe Canelo has many more facets to his game than people give him credit for. Of course his power punching is one of his key strengths but he is far from a brawler or aggressive front foot fighter. He sets traps as he working his way into firing range and is getting better and better at timing his punches with experience.
He demonstrated just how seasoned he has become when he knocked out Amir Khan in emphatic fashion. If he had fought Khan early in his career he may have got caught out by his dazzling speed and lost on points but he has learnt from the experiences of Erislandy Lara and Floyd Mayweather and become deadly with his ability to time his power punches. He is technically a lot better than he is given credit for.
For this reason I believe he has the edge. He has the ability to adapt now during the fight. I think he has the better variation to his style. However that said if the best Chavez Jr turns up we could see him in having to weather some really difficult spots for the first time.