It’s Cinco de Mayo weekend, which means it’s time for one of the year’s major marquee boxing fights. This year, it’s a Mexico vs. Mexico fight as Canelo Alvarez (48-1-1; 34 KO) faces Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (50-2-1; 32 KO) This is a Catchweight fight taking place at 164.5 pounds - down from Chavez’s normal weight and up from Canelo’s. For what it’s worth, Ring Magazine rates Canelo as the world’s #8 pound for pound fighter and Middleweight champion; Chavez is unranked. The fight will air live on HBO PPV this Saturday, May 6 with a fight time of 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT. The PPV includes 3 other fights featuring David Lemieux and Lucas Matthysse among others.
How do these two stack up?
Canelo: 26 years old | 5’9” | 70.5" reach | orthodox stance
Chavez: 31 years old | 6’1" | 73" reach | orthodox stance
What have these two done recently?
Canelo: W - Liam Smith (TKO) | W - Amir Khan (KO) | W - Miguel Cotto (UD)
Chavez: W - Dominik Britsch (UD) | W - Marcos Reyes (UD) | L - Andrzej Fonfara (TD)
How did these two get here?
Saul Canelo Alvarez won the 160 pound lineal Middleweight title from Miguel Cotto in 2015 and has been soundly criticized ever since. He’s refused to fight at 160 pounds, been stripped of belts, and firmly avoided a fight with Gennady Golovkin. Canelo once had a good reputation for taking tough fights, including taking on the highly talented Erislandy Lara when few would, but that time is long past. In many ways, Canelo is the face of boxing today - likely the sport’s biggest star now that Mayweather is gone and Pacquiao faded (though Anthony Joshua is on his trail). But fans want more from him, and they want it now.
To summarize the ups and downs of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s career in a brief span is quite difficult indeed. Son of the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez, he came to boxing seemingly with a silver spoon in his mouth. Heavily hyped from the beginning, Chavez has mostly failed to live up to those expectations. He had an amazing round against Sergio Martinez in 2012, but since then he’s missed weight, ballooned up to Light Heavyweight where he was completely wiped out by Andrzej Fonfara, and generally shown a lack of commitment to boxing. He’s only had one fight in the past 22 months, and that was a throw-away affair in Mexico.
What can fans expect?
It’s tempting to just write Canelo by decision here and be done with it. But there’s reason to pause. Yes, Canelo is the more technically skilled fighter - there’s really no question about that, even though many feel Canelo’s technical acumen has been overrated at times. He will be the faster man in there, not because Canelo is particularly fast, but because Chavez is often particularly slow. Chavez is certainly a durable fighter - only the large Fonfara has put him away - so it’s very easy to envision Canelo sticking and moving, using technique to work the outside, land his trademark hooks to the body, and point his way to a lopsided win. And yes, that very well might happen. But there’s no overlooking the fact that Chavez will be significantly bigger and significantly stronger. Against Martinez, he showed that you can never write him off - it took a heroic effort from Martinez to not fall victim to a 12th round Hail Mary KO in that fight. That said, that fight was nearly 5 years ago. The word from the Chavez camp is that he is driven and in shape for this fight. Maybe that will be true. But even if it is, Chavez has never been a real gas tank sort of fighter. As we get deeper in the fight, he will tire faster than Canelo. Canelo will need to stay awake, but he’s a smart enough fighter to do just that. Look for Canelo to outbox Chavez most of the way, but for Chavez to have a few dramatic shots in the fight that make it interesting. Interesting enough for a rematch? It’s boxing, so the bar is low - look for Canelo vs. Chavez II this fall.
Prediction: Canelo, Dec
Who should watch?
Well, it’s a tough one to call here. This could be a stinker, with Canelo outworking and Chavez looking slow. Or it could be a firefight in that Mexican tradition that has been talked about so much in the lead up. I’m interested to see which. Your mileage may vary. Also, fans who really really hate Canelo and want to see someone face him who actually has a shot? This one’s for you.