How competitive is Canelo-Chavez?
February 20, 2017
LAS VEGAS – We are a few months away from one of the biggest fights in boxing taking place when Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) takes on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs). The fight will be contested at a catch weight of 164.5 pounds. This will be the first time Alvarez has had a fight above 160 pounds and the first time since 2012 that Chavez has been in a fight under 168 pounds. The fight will also be taking place at the relatively new T-Mobile Arena that is owned by the MGM Grand. The fight could have happened in Texas to a much larger crowd, but the money from a Las Vegas casino still outweighs even that of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Much like last year’s fight between Alvarez and Amir Khan the announcement that Golden Boy’s biggest star would be facing Chavez Jr. came as a surprise. It was back in 2012 when a fight between the two men was explored, as at the time Chavez was the WBC middleweight champion. Alvarez was fighting at 154 pounds. The two men fought on the same night in September 2012 with two different outcomes. Alvarez faced off against Josesito Lopez (34-7, 19 KOs) who he quickly dispatched in five rounds. Chavez faced Sergio Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KOs) for middleweight supremacy and came close to stopping Martinez in the final round after being completely dominated for 11 rounds. The fight is best remembered for the knockdown but also for the lack of dedication in training Chavez displayed before the fight.
Since 2012 the careers of both men have taken different directions. Alvarez has gone in more of an upward direction with the only bump in the road being a loss to Floyd Mayweather in 2013. Chavez, on the other hand, has seen his career and popularity spiral downwards at a dramatic rate.
The seeds were planted for a Chavez downfall when he failed drug tests for diuretics and marijuana. He also received a DUI during a training camp for a fight with Marco Antonio Rubio.
Canelo-Chavez is a fight that creates an event that will generate substantial revenue for everyone involved. The factors going into the fight itself and how it will play out are in the details. Let’s take a look at some of the factors involved.
The Catch Weight
The fight will be contested at a weight of 164.5 pounds leaving both men at somewhat of a disadvantage. There is a level of uncertainty into how this will affect both men. For Alvarez, it has been rumored for years that he blows up into the 180’s on fight night. Alvarez is only 26 years of age and may benefit from the higher weight. Chavez has made a career of having issues making weight. In his last fight against Dominik Britsch (32-3-1, 11 KOs) Chavez looked like a zombie at the scale making 168 pounds.
Making the catch weight is not just a physical obstacle for Chavez it is also a financial one. For every pound that Chavez goes over the 164.5 weight limit, he will be fined a million dollars. This could be motivation enough to keep in shape long before the fight, but one has to wonder if Chavez will resort to any desperate acts to make the weight.
The good news is that Chavez just fought last December and with the fight with Alvarez taking place in May he may be able to come up with a plan to make the catch weight safely. The man who will be in charge of making sure Chavez makes weight will be his strength and conditioning coach, Angel Heredia. Heredia is best known in boxing for his work with Juan Manuel Marquez. He is a controversial figure in the sport for his past work with athletes involving performance enhancing drugs, and recently one of his fighters Lucian Bute failed a drug test. Heredia told ESPN Deportes that he believes Chavez will not have any trouble making the 164.5-pound weight.
Recent Opponents and Activity
There is no question looking at both men’s resume that Alvarez has faced the better overall opposition. It is even more one-sided looking at the opponents both men faced since a fight between the two was first talked about in 2012. In 2013, 2014 and 2016 Chavez Jr. only stepped into the ring one time each year. Chavez faced perennial contender and journeyman Brian Vera (25-11, 15 KOs) in both 2013 and 2014.
In their first fight in 2013 many felt that Vera had done more than enough to secure a victory over Chavez. Chavez got a controversial unanimous decision victory and decided to face Vera again in 2014. This time Chavez won clearly but still did not perform at a level that would garner him any consideration for a world title.
2015 started off ugly for the son of JC Superstar has he was completely dominated and beaten up by Andrzej Fonfara (28-4, 16 KOs) at the StubHub Center in April of that year. It was clear by then that Chavez had not only fallen off of the map regarding being a contender in boxing, but also his popularity was shrinking by the minute. Fans had grown tired of the excuses and lack of discipline Chavez had displayed for years.
Chavez was able to bounce back after the loss to Fonfara to defeat two non-descript opponents in late 2015 and 2016. He looked unimpressive and lethargic in both fights. The momentum going into May 6th is clearly on the side of Alvarez.
With the announcement of Canelo-Chavez, there were many questions regarding who would be training Chavez for the fight. Chavez has had many trainers in his career, and his lack of discipline has cost him the services of many trainers. Most famously, Chavez wasted the time of Freddie Roach back in 2012 by choosing to miss training sessions and instead train in his living room.
For his fight with Alvarez, Chavez was lucky enough to get the renowned world-class trainer, Nacho Beristain. Beristain is most known for his work with Ricardo Lopez and the Marquez brothers. Those fighters were highly skilled technicians with Lopez and Juan Manuel Marquez being known as master counter-punchers. These attributes do not belong to Chavez.
Many times it takes more than just one training camp for a new trainer to settle in his tutelage to a new fighter entirely. The same can happen with Chavez. What Beristain does bring to the table is the experience of having participated in some of boxing’s biggest fights. That experience could give Chavez an edge over Alvarez.
Alvarez has been with the same trainers for the entirety of his career. He has improved his boxing skills most notably in the last two years. Making a change going into a fight with the biggest man he will have faced thus far would be a mistake.
Whatever effect Beristain has on Chavez will be determined by Chavez’s ability to listen.
Styles Make Fights
All the talk of the catch weight and the money the fight will produce pales in comparison to what will happen inside the ring. For all the factors coming into the fight, it is clear that Chavez regardless of his condition is tailor made for Alvarez.
Chavez as of late has been a poorly conditioned brawler who comes forward with little technique and low volume. Chavez’s only chance in this fight may be in the first half if his size plays a factor. The Fonfara fight is evidence that Chavez can be touched up in combination. Putting punches together in combination is something that Alvarez does at a high level.
Those who believe Chavez has a chance of winning believe that he will be able to push Alvarez back against the ropes where he will land his most effective punches. Under that assumption, fans may be confusing Chavez Jr. with Chavez Sr.
It has always been said in boxing that “a good big man will always beat a good little man.” This does not apply if that big man is not that good and is weight drained from trying to make the weight limit.
It is possible that Chavez Jr. puts it all together in the biggest fight of his career to give fans a great fight. His track record and recent activity make him an underdog even being the bigger man.
Whether this is a mismatch or a competitive fight will be found out on May 6th.
(Feature Photo: Etzel Espinosa)