Canelo Puts Mexican Rivalry Talk to Rest With Pure Dominance

By Christian Giudice on May 8, 2017
Canelo Puts Mexican Rivalry Talk to Rest With Pure Dominance
Pace is so key to how good Canelo Alvarez can be. (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

One fighter wanted to get closer to the label of best fighter in the world; the other wanted to stay relevant…

Coming into the championship matchup, the implications were clear: one fighter wanted to get closer to the label of best fighter in the world; the other wanted to stay relevant. The arc of the fight followed those themes as Canelo Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) routed Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (50-3-1, 32 KOs) over 12 rounds. A date with Gennady Golovkin looming, Canelo confirmed that he now represents the total package as a fighter, implementing necessary elements to his repertoire with each fight. At this point in his career, no other fighter with his experience can boast of such an assortment of skills.

Whether motivated by pre-fight tensions or merely trying to exert his will, Canelo fired off jabs and right hands early and often in the first round. The younger Canelo would have thrown single punches, eased his way into the fight, and waited to establish the jab; but he knew that Chavez’s reaction to this early aggression would dictate the pace of the bout.

And it did.

Not only is Canelo more aware at this stage, but he can finally spend round after round in attack mode. Years ago that approach was not possible.

Over the next couple rounds, a steady pattern of Canelo attack and Chavez retreat began to take hold, and as the fighters prepared to come out for the third round, a non-volume puncher like Chavez Jr.‘s lack of output proved worrisome for his followers. Although Chavez Jr.‘s new trainer Nacho Beristain exhorted him to throw more punches, it didn’t matter who was in his corner or what strategy he employed.

What mattered was the blood running down from his nose at the end of the third round where he absorbed at least three vicious 3-4 punch combinations. One jab, right hand, followed by a Canelo uppercut was particularly concerning to Chavez Jr. as he was unable to avoid the brunt of the uppercut.

Listening solely to the voice in his head, Chavez Jr. decided early on that taking risks was not wise and might save him abuse, but the philosophy couldn’t offset Canelo’s vicious onslaught in the fourth. A wide array of uppercuts, body shots and right hands rained down on Chavez Jr. as Canelo worked magnificent combinations off a jab thrown with the intensity of a right hand.

Constant reminders of Chavez Jr. standing directly in front of Canelo—reluctant to trade—may be the lasting image of this bout, but Canelo’s percussive attack can’t go unnoticed. With the exception of some questionable moments fighting off the ropes, Canelo never slowed down. At 2:02 of the fifth round, Canelo shook Chavez Jr. with a straight right hand and then used the same punch to stun him again on the back end of a combination 30 seconds later. Magnified by Canelo’s speed and strength, the thud of the punches resonated throughout the fight. Unlike the old Canelo, there was no down time to allow Chavez Jr. to regroup.

Bloodied nose, puffiness above the left eye, Chavez Jr. to his credit didn’t succumb. By the sixth round, his options had dwindled significantly. When Chavez Jr. got in close he was met with short hooks or an uppercut on the inside; likewise, when he sat back, Canelo raked him with jabs and power punches. Interestingly enough, Canelo backed into the ropes and called for Chavez Jr. to come to him in the sixth, but nothing materialized.

Down six rounds, Chavez Jr. came out of his shell in the seventh with his best round of the fight. At one point, with Canelo brazenly backing into the ropes again, Chavez Jr. didn’t lose his composure as he finally unveiled the left hook during an effective combination.

In the eighth round, Canelo reverted back to attack mode and unleashed an 8-10 barrage that put him back in control. Because of his superior conditioning, Canelo glided into the late rounds. When he was younger, Canelo would have been exhausted, but as he hit the midpoint of the tenth, there was no coasting on fumes. No mouth agape, desperate for a reprieve.

Pace is so key to how good Canelo can be; in his early years he had little idea how to control it. Instead Canelo intensified the pace and amped the attack.

Searching for the knockout in the final two rounds, Canelo never positioned Chavez Jr. to where he could close out the fight, which is a testament to Chavez Jr.‘s toughness. Refusing to engage was one thing, but no one could diminish Chavez Jr.‘s toughness as he withstood the continued onslaught.

As the final bell rang, all of Mexico caught a glimpse of what Canelo has become—and, yes, it’s spectacular to watch. In nearly every round—all three judges had it 120-108—Canelo emphasized another facet of his offensive attack.

Each round provided another glaring excuse for Chavez Jr. not to engage. Without a competitive edge, the fight was not the Mexican rivalry that fans yearned, for but rather a cautious tale reflecting two fighters who had taken different turns in their careers: as Canelo continues a path toward greatness; Chavez Jr. must chart a new one.

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  1. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:23am, 05/08/2017

    One real exception occurred this past year in Rio when Matthew Centrowitz won the Gold in the 1500 mm….the first American since 1908 for Christ’s sake. This was a miracle for the friggin’ ages and the media pissed right over it because it just didn’t fit their narrative!

  2. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:12am, 05/08/2017

    Let’s face it, as brutal and shitty as it is boxing is Everyman’s sport. Basketball sure as fuk isn’t when you consider that Hassan Whiteside can grip the rim on his tippy toes for Christ’s sake and some players hands are so Goddamned big that they wrap half around a basketball that is 30 inches in circumference!

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:56am, 05/08/2017

    @Alt Knight-Nice! It’s not a running and jumping sport and that’s for sure! One of the very few organized competitions where will can trump skill. It will be a breezy Spring day in Hell when some runner from the suburbs, no matter how determined and dedicated will overtake the Kenyans and win the Boston Marathon!

  4. Alt Knight 06:57am, 05/08/2017

    Chavez Jr. proves once again that poverty and desperation breeds the best fighters. Like Marvis Frazier and others, Chavez Jr. never HAD to box. There really haven’t been a lot of successful father & son combinations in any sport. Chavez Jr., Marvis and others have been successful but they never matched the success of their fathers. Marvis did have the handicap of being too small as a heavyweight, never could figure out why he didn’t campaign as a cruiserweight. He certainly could have captured one of the fractured titles in that division back in the 80’s before Holyfield came along. Peyton and Eli surpassed Archie, but then again Archie played on some terrible New Orleans Saints teams, Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds passed their fathers as well, that certainly wasn’t an easy task because both Griffey Sr. and Bonds Sr. were pretty good in their own right. Football and baseball are more of an athletic event than boxing, being athletic helps in boxing, but the proper mindset and toughness isn’t something that comes with being blessed with the right genes. Some of the greatest boxers would have made terrible athletes, Tyson, Pacquiao, Joe Frazier, etc. weren’t that athletic at all. That mental toughness is one of the reasons why Eastern Europeans are doing so well right now in the sport of boxing.

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