Who will be crowned King of Mexico?
The big fights just keep on coming, and this weekend the whole of Mexico will come to a standstill to witness two of their own slug it out under the bright lights in Las Vegas.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, one of boxing’s brightest young stars, takes on compatriot Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr on the treasured Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend. Adrian Clarke takes us through what to expect…
Will size matter?
That’s the question on every fight fan’s lips ahead of this potentially explosive Latino duel.
Chavez Jnr, the inferior fighter in most observer’s eyes (including my own), will boast a 4-inch height advantage at the T-Mobile Arena, with a two and a half inch longer reach to match.
If he uses that properly, there’s a legitimate school of thought that suggests his physicality and power may trouble an opponent that’s used to mixing it with significantly smaller men.That’s what makes this unusual match up, such an intriguing one. One big punch could trump his opponent’s class in a flash, even if the bookies have the bigger, but older man, down as a 9/2 underdog.
To claim an early stoppage, you will get Chavez Jnr at a value price of 12/1.
The formbook suggests he’s not good enough. The son of Mexico’s greatest ever fighter is a former WBC World Middleweight champion that’s been competing, rather underwhelmingly, at Super-Middleweight and Light-Heavyweight in recent years. Performances have been flat, and his professionalism in training has been called into question. The critics claim he’s been dining out on his father’s name for almost a decade. He’s better than that, but the doubters do have a point.
By contrast, Canelo, the current WBC World Middleweight and WBO World Super-Welterweight belt holder, is a genuine superstar that’s knocking on the door for pound-for-pound recognition. At 26 he is young, talented and ferociously competitive, even if his reputation has been a little tainted by a shameless avoidance of GGG, Gennady Golovkin.
Made at a 164.5-pound catch weight, Canelo has to put on over 10 pounds. His opponent has dropped half of that to make this contest viable for a specially commissioned, but pointless, ‘Don Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Cinco de Mayo’ commemorative WBC belt.
While I rate Canelo highly, he can look flat-footed at times and isn’t in the Mayweather league when it comes to skill set. However, he is still by far the faster more rounded boxer here.
He will be pumped up too, describing his dislike for Chavez Jnr as ‘personal’. But the smart move would be to control that aggression by nipping in and out of range. He must use his speed to get close enough to land his blows. While he undeniably boasts the brute power to deliver more than just light stings to the face of his opponent, Canelo’s best avenue to success is likely to come on the back of a persistently high-tempo. If he fires off a stream of shots, in his trademark relentless fashion, it’s unclear whether the 31-year-old Chavez Jnr has the heart or conditioning to cope.
If this bout was an inter-continental affair between Canelo and a rival from outside of Mexico, I’d be tipping up a late KO in Round 10 (18/1) or Round 11 (20/1). But fierce local pride is likely to inspire the outsider to dig deep.
A one-sided points victory for Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez would be my prediction at 13/10.
It will keep Mexico’s new hero on the path to greatness, but until he signs off on a meeting with GGG, there will always be an asterisk next to his name.
Has Canelo got the bottle to test himself against the very best or not?
Take a look at Grosvenor Sport for more boxing odds