Fight Picks: Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
On Saturday, Canelo Alvarez will face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in an eagerly anticipated 164.5-pound catchweight contest to decide Mexican bragging rights. The pair meet on Cinco de Mayo weekend at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on HBO Pay-Per-View at 9 p.m ET/PT and in the U.K. on BoxNation at 2 a.m. In Mexico, the fight will be shown on both Televisa and TV Azteca.
For several years, each man has been linked with the other. However, the timing was never quite right but when Chavez Jr. beat Dominik Britsch in his second comeback fight last December the stars aligned and the two factions were able to broker a deal.
Canelo, still only 26, has already been a pro for over 11 years. During that time, Canelo (48-1-1, 34 knockouts) has left a trail of destruction in his wake, winning titles at junior middleweight and middleweight, facing a who’s who of boxing royalty, including the only man to defeat him, Floyd Mayweather Jr.. He has beaten an impressive cast of past or present champions, including Shane Mosley, Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara and Miguel Cotto. All told, the red-headed assassin has beaten 11 world champions and is hugely popular in his homeland.
“To whom much is given much is expected,” is a phrase often linked to Chavez Jr., the son of Mexico’s greatest fighter. Chavez (50-2-1, 32 KOs) has had to live in the considerable shadow of his father for his entire his life, and threatened to create his own legacy when he won the WBC middleweight title nearly six years ago. However, ill discipline blighted his reign and cost him the title against then-THE RING Magazine champion Sergio Martinez, even though he threatened to catch lightning in a bottle – almost emulating his father’s win over Meldrick Taylor – by stopping Martinez in the final round, it wasn’t to be and a myriad of issues have since plagued his career. To his credit, Chavez, now 31, appears to have whipped himself into excellent shape ahead of his battle with Canelo.
The questions are: Can Canelo deal with the much bigger Chavez, whose weight will likely exceed 180 pounds by the time he steps inside the ring? Canelo has in the past been criticized for facing smaller men, this time the shoe is on the other foot. How will he deal with that? Also, how well will Chavez fight at 164.5 pounds, the lowest he’ll have fought at in five years, since losing to Martinez. The pressure is huge, the rewards will be even bigger, the winner will be anointed the King of Mexico.
There is genuine beef between both men, a simmering animosity. Canelo feels Chavez was given all the benefits of his father’s name throughout his career and Chavez believes he is the top dog in Mexico and he wants to reclaim that mantle from Canelo.
HBO’s “Face Off”:
HBO’s “24/7 Canelo-Chavez Jr.”:
The online gambling group bet365.com lists Canelo as a 1/7 (-700) favorite while Chavez is priced at 9/2 (+450).
RingTV.com polled 30 boxing insiders for their picks:
Eric Bottjer, RocNation Sports matchmaker
Canelo Alvarez KO Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Alvarez by knockout. He’s just a better fighter. The only thing that gives me pause is the size difference. When the two posed together for the first time, Canelo literally looked like a child standing next to his father (or big brother). It will be fun while it lasts but fighters who take their careers seriously usually top those who dabble with professionalism.
Lucian Bute, former super middleweight titlist
Canelo Alvarez TKO 9 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr: I think Canelo will stop Chavez Jr. in the ninth round.
Carlos Cuadras, former WBC junior bantamweight champion
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to beat Canelo Alvarez: I think Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will win. He has the reach, the power, the distance, the strength…plus he is my friend and I am backing him till the end.
Robert Diaz, Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker
Canelo Alvarez KO Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Of course, I am a little biased here but I will try not to be (laughs). Very fun fight while it lasts and competitive for first five rounds, as pride will raise the level of both fighters. This is as personal as it gets. In the end, you have talent, discipline and, to the surprise of many, power that will make the difference. I see either the corner or the referee stopping it between nine or 10 rounds with Chavez Jr. being saved from further punishment.
Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO
Canelo Alvarez to beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: I must pick Canelo. He has really impressed me over the years. He has grown as a fighter by taking on absolutely everyone in his division. He has learned so much during that time and he has some really nice wins on his record. His only loss came when he was very young and relatively inexperienced against Mayweather, the best fighter of his generation. Chavez Jr. is an exciting fighter. But, in my opinion, he is simply not in the same class as Canelo.
Jeff Fenech, former three-division champion
Canelo Alvarez KO Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Chavez is a bit bigger but I honestly believe Canelo got the goods and will win and may win by knockout.
Doug Fischer, RingTV.com editor
Canelo Alvarez UD 12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: I think Chavez Jr. will bring a strong effort and sound game plan to this matchup of Mexican rivals by mixing stick-and-move tactics in with his signature pressure fighting, which will bring out the best in Alvarez. I envision Canelo fighting well on the inside with combination punching and counter-punching well from the outside. Both men will likely present strong body attacks. Chavez may well outwork his rival but Canelo’s superior defense, slip-and-counter ability and accurate power punching will give him the edge on the scorecards after 12 competitive rounds. Canelo by close but unanimous decision.
Norm Frauenheim, The Ring/www.15rounds.com
Canelo Alvarez TKO 11 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: It might be more of an event than a fight but personal animus in the build-up is a sign that this one could be intense, even ugly. Canelo and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. don’t like each other. Chavez Jr. has enough power and perhaps size to make it very interesting. But the fight figures to go the way his career has. It’s been a collection of promising moments, yet devoid of consistency. He’s doesn’t have Dad’s stubborn focus and unyielding toughness. Canelo will pounce at the moment there’s any hint that Chavez is distracted. Canelo’s combos to the body could result in a long, punishing night for Chavez.
Jeffrey Freeman, KO Digest/TheSweetScience.com
Canelo Alvarez UD 12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: This will come down to how fit and motivated Julio Cesar Chavez actually is when he enters the ring. We know Canelo Alvarez will be very ready to fight. If Chavez brings his best Mexican stuff, he’ll make a go of it, pushing Alvarez to a new level. If it’s the same old listless Chavez in there, Junior gets his ears boxed off and loses a wide decision.
Mikey Garcia, current WBC lightweight titlist
Canelo Alvarez undecided Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Both of them are great fighters…I had the chance to train with Chavez Jr. for a long period in L.A. He became a close friend; he is such a great person. I know well his skills and what he can do but Canelo is a good fighter. Fans will be the winners this night.
Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez, former unified junior flyweight world champion
Canelo Alvarez undecided Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: It will be a Mexican war. We have to consider that both of them had different training camps. Canelo had to focus to gain weight and Chavez to lose it. Both of them could win. The weight factor will be very important. I am sure there will be a KO. Chavez is the son of my compadre and Canelo fought at the beginning of his career on cards held at my place…I wish them the best.
Tom Gray, RingTV.com
Canelo Alvarez TKO 8 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: I have it on authority that whenever Alvarez is around the 165-pound mark in sparring, he looks positively frightening and that does not bode well for Chavez. Alvarez does almost everything better than his countryman and he is the only dedicated athlete in this matchup. The one thing that Chavez had going for him was his durability but how much of that has been lost with all the bad living and time off? I expect Alvarez to do a serious number on Chavez and land with crazy stuff from the opening bell. Chavez won’t have lost any of his bravery but the punishment will be just too much to bear and I think he’ll be pulled out somewhere after the midway point. Getting your weight down is one thing; being in fighting shape is another. Canelo all day and I would be absolutely stunned if I got this wrong.
Lee Groves, RingTV.com
Canelo Alvarez PTS 12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Chavez has the height and reach to force Canelo to chase him, if he so chooses, as well as the power to hurt Alvarez if he connects flush. But Chavez’s nature is to be aggressive and his best chance to win the fight is to hurt Alvarez early and earn his respect. If Chavez packs on the pounds after the weigh-in, as expected, he’ll be able to absorb his opponent’s best punches like Daniel Jacobs did against Gennady Golovkin. But I believe Alvarez will walk out the winner because Canelo is a superb combination puncher, the better technician, the more accurate hitter and the superior defender. Chavez has yet to beat a genuine pound-for-pound talent, a stunning statement, given the length of his career. I think Alvarez, like Sergio Martinez before him, will show Chavez what “elite” really means.
Robert Guerrero, former two-division titlist
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. PTS 12 Canelo Alvarez: I think Chavez Jr. is taking this fight very serious and will be in the best shape of his life. He’s got enough fights and experience to beat Canelo. I’m picking Chavez Jr. in an upset but the fight goes the distance.
Andreas Hale, RingTV.com and BoxingScene.com
Canelo Alvarez TKO 9 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: There are so many things to consider heading into this fight that my pick is about as arbitrary as they come. Who knows if Chavez will make weight or be motivated or do anything to be ready for Canelo? What we do know is that Chavez has cinder blocks for feet and is ridiculously slow, compared to Canelo. If Chavez manages to hit his weight and have an excellent camp, he won’t be easy to get rid of. But no matter how great of shape Chavez is, the fact remains that Canelo is the better counterpuncher with speed advantages in every department. The size won’t even matter that much because Canelo routinely enters the ring as damn near a light heavyweight. I figure that Canelo will crank up the pace, as the fight wears on, and finish Chavez late.
Ricky Hatton, former two-division world champion
Canelo Alvarez KO 5 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: I see Canelo as one of, if not the best pound-for-pound boxers at the moment. I know its a big clash of Mexican boxers and it will be a great fight whilst it lasts but I think Canelo will stop Chavez maybe around the fifth round. So I’m going for Canelo by KO.
Mariana “Barby” Juarez, current WBC female bantamweight champion
Canelo Alvarez PTS 12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: I think the victory will be a decision for Canelo…but I left a window open. You all know Canelo has not fought heavier fighters. He has had always the weight factor in his favor…This time that’s different.
Erislandy Lara, junior middleweight titlist and former Canelo opponent
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to beat Canelo Alvarez: Two very good warriors will be in the ring on May 6th. I believe Chavez will win the fight based on size. If Chavez makes weight comfortably, his size will overwhelm Canelo.
Barry McGuigan, former featherweight champion
Canelo Alvarez PTS 12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: It seems to me Chavez has got the bit between his teeth and he is getting himself into shape for this fight, it’s at 164.5, not 168. How much that will take out of him is something I don’t know and can’t tell until the first bell. Maybe the only reason Chavez couldn’t do 168 was because he wasn’t focused. He seems to be focused on this fight because there’s a lot of pride at stake. It’s a Mexican showdown between two families. There’s a lot of bragging rights at stake and pride. I hope he’s in good shape because, if he is, we’re in for a good fight. I don’t think Canelo is a devastating puncher. I think he punches hard and Erislandy Lara went the distance and gave him a tough fight and Austin Trout caused him trouble as well and he didn’t get rid of Matthew Hatton. He’s not a devastating puncher; he’s a correct puncher, places his shots well and he’s a very good combination puncher. I do think if Chavez has retained his strength and he’s not too badly weakened, I think it could turn out to be a helluva fight. It could be out to be a long, slow, grinding and stopping Chavez late in the fight but it might well be a distance fight. I don’t see an early fight, whether he’s struggling to make weight or not. I think (Chavez’s) pride and his natural strength will keep him in the fight at least for half-a-dozen rounds. You look at Chavez against (Sergio) Martinez, Andy Lee; you look at him against big strong middleweights and they couldn’t get him out of there. I think he’s got a great chin but if he’s busting his body up to make weight, he must weaken himself. There’s always the possibility he could be ground down. I think it’ll be a terrific battle and could be one of the fights of the year. I think it’ll be a thrilling fight but I still think Canelo will win it and will win it convincingly. Canelo more than likely on points or possibly a late stoppage if Chavez is weakened.
Duke McKenzie, former three-division
Canelo Alvarez KO Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: It would be easy to jump on the bandwagon and say Canelo is the best thing since sliced bread. With just one solitary defeat to the maestro, Floyd “Money” Mayweather on his record, he has looked a complete fighter. Is he the stereotypical Mexican fighter? Does he roll with the punches like Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.? Tick. Fight with ferocity like Marco Antonio Barrera? Tick. (Have a) chin like Erik Morales? Tick. It would take a brave man to bet against him. While I expect Chavez Jr. to put up a decent effort, it would take a miracle to pull this one off and, with Dynamo the Magician out of town, I would expect Canelo to break his foe down with his trademark hooks to the body, wearing down Chavez Jr. for a late stoppage win.
Jolene Mizzone, Main Events matchmaker
Canelo Alvarez KO Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: I see this going to a late KO by Canelo or going to the scorecards and Canelo winning easy. I may be one of the few that doesn’t buy (Chavez winning). Even if JCC is in the shape of his life, he doesn’t have a chance with Canelo. Canelo is just much more seasoned, fought better opposition and a true professional.
Diego M. Morilla, TheSweetScience.com, ThePrizefighters.com
Canelo Alvarez UD 12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr: Stylistically, it is still an interesting matchup but the heart and soul of this fight is the national bragging rights of two guys who have grown to stir as much passion in Mexico as any other sports rivalry in history. In the end, it will come down to who wants it more and it’s clearly the “Cinnamon Kid.” He’ll be a solid middleweight by the time he gets to the fight; he’ll have the speed advantage (probably the only fight in which he will ever have it…) and he has vastly improved his defense as well. Junior can try to turn this into a brawl and muddy the waters just enough to get a split nod but, other than that, all signs point to a unanimous decision win for Alvarez.
Ruben Olivares, former bantamweight world champion
Canelo Alvarez to beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: I pick Canelo to beat Chavez Jr. because of his strong dedication to boxing and his enormous pride to win.
Lupe Pintor, former two-division world champion
Canelo Alvarez to beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: I think “Canelo” has had a better career, so better chances. The weight will be against him this time. He has defeated many aspects during his career and I think he will win. Chavez has strength it will be a good fight.
John J. Raspanti, Maxboxing.com, Ringside Boxing Show, co-author of “Intimate Warfare”
Canelo Alvarez TKO 8 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Canelo Alvarez enters the fight as a huge favorite but Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is a live underdog. He’s the bigger man and will likely weigh about 190 pounds. He’s got a great chin like his legendary daddy. Alvarez is the more skilled fighter. He’s an accurate puncher. He should be able to tag Chavez with his patented hooks to the body and head. Chavez could do well on the inside. If Alvarez runs out of gas, Chavez has a chance to spring the upset. I don’t see that happening. Alvarez will wear Chavez down and stop him in round eight.
Cliff Rold, BoxingScene.com
Canelo Alvarez PTS 12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Chavez, if he’s in shape, not drained, and focused, has the size, chin and style to give Canelo hell. He looks like he’s in shape. We don’t know yet how hard the weight will be on him but focus often lacks. Chavez has never shown any sense of urgency about his career and cosmetics aren’t enough to sway. Canelo is the better boxer, the better defensive fighter and the biggest money draw in North America. Even if it’s close, it’s going his way.
Joseph Santoliquito/THE RINGMagazine/RingTV.com/CBSPhilly.com
Canelo Alvarez KO 9 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: I still need to be convinced Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is finally taking his vocation seriously. I know there have been some shots of Chavez looking like Hercules but this is a mismatch of skill and physical tools. I know Canelo has never fought beyond 155 pounds before and this fight is at a 164.5-pound catchweight. So Chavez will suck up some pounds and arrive at a blown-up 180. He’ll have enough left for six, maybe seven, rounds and there is a chance we could see some great exchanges. But I don’t see Chavez lasting beyond the eighth round. His history of slovenly training and poor conditioning is just too much to ignore, unless proven otherwise.
Kostya Tszyu, former undisputed junior welterweight champion
Canelo Alvarez to beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Probably Canelo is a bit too strong for Chavez. I like Julio; I like his attitude but Canelo will be a bit too strong for him. Canelo’s a big puncher and that will play a big role.
Michael Woods, NYFights.com, RingTV.com, host of the Everlast podcast “TalkBOX”
Canelo Alvarez KO Julio Cesar Chavez Jr: Yes, Junior is more used to fighting at a higher weight. He is also more used to losing…to having difficulty navigating his purpose in life…at acting in a purely professional manner. Canelo has improved a notch-and-a-half since losing to Floyd Mayweather and Chavez Jr. won’t stop his march. Canelo will stop the son of the legend, who will compete with dignity but lose conclusively.
Hector Zapari, trainer of WBO super middleweight titlist Gilberto Ramirez
Canelo Alvarez to beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Canelo all the way. He’s a fighter with more resources and much better quality than Junior. He has more experience with better fights to prove more things in the ring and he will be much stronger than Junior. I think Canelo wins by decision or in the late rounds.
Final tally: 25-3 and two undecided in favor of Canelo Alvarez to win Saturday’s gigantic 164.5-pound catchweight showdown against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.
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