The fight between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. may have left boxing fans sorely disappointed on Saturday night, but the major announcement that followed quickly raised the spirits.
Many proposed that if Chavez Jr. could recapture the form he displayed from 2010-2012, his 165-pound catchweight showdown with ‘Canelo’ would develop into something really special and go down in Mexican boxing lore.
Even during his prime, Chavez was pretty basic and somewhat plodding, but he was also strong, tough, hard-headed, heavy-handed and, perhaps most importantly, fearless. Unfortunately, the Chavez that met Alvarez at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas last night, did not look at all like the marauding animal that stalked Andy Lee and viciously battered him to defeat at El Paso’s Sun Bowl in June of 2012.
This was partly to do with tactics.
Instead of using his significant natural size advantage to bully Alvarez on the inside, which has always been his style, Chavez Jr. attempted to utilize his reach advantage and box at range while on the back foot. The fighter would later say that his trainer, the famed Nacho Beristain, had recommended that he go about the job in this manner. It was a fatal mistake.
Alvarez, who looks unbelievably comfortable at every range, picked Chavez off from very early on, making wonderful use of his jab and unleashing beautiful, varied combinations with consistency.
Late in the sixth, Alvarez retreated to the ropes and invited Chavez in. With his famous father screaming on from ringside, Chavez looked hesitant to throw. After having a good look at Alvarez, who was undoubtedly looking to set him up, Chavez threw a few body shots and backed away when Alvarez started to return fire. This was not the JCC Jr. of old.
In the fall of 2012, Chavez was thoroughly outboxed and beaten up by then middleweight champion Sergio Martinez for eleven rounds. However, he almost grasped a dramatic stoppage victory with a gallant showing in the final session. Against Alvarez, Chavez drew boos from the crowd with his efforts in the embers of the fight. The 31-year-old seemed resigned to a points defeat.
All three judges scored the fight 120-108 in favour of Alvarez.
Luckily, the show was about to be saved.
During an interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman, ‘Canelo’ confirmed that his next opponent will be murderous middleweight puncher Gennady Golovkin.
For the last 18 months or so, this fight has been talked about as the best that boxing has to offer. However, negotiations proved difficult and for a time it was beginning to look as though we were headed toward another Mayweather/Pacquiao type saga. Thankfully, we have been spared that frustration.
Golovkin joined Alvarez in the ring afterwards for some very awkward chit chat with Max. Golovkin’s English is not polished and with Alvarez communicating through a translator, this was never going to be riveting stuff. This fight, though, will not be sold the mouths of the combatants, but by their reputations for excellence and producing action.
After Max finished his questions, a graphic was shown on the big screen, confirming that the date for this mouth-watering clash will be September 16th.
We can’t wait.