Commentary: Canelo-GGG saves Canelo-Chavez Jr. from being forgettable
It was supposed to be a fight for Mexican pride between the son of a legend and a legend in the making. But all Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. delivered was a 12-round commercial for the fight everyone has been waiting for: Canelo vs. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin on September 16.
For 36 minutes, the 20,510 fans crammed in the T-Mobile Arena that were expecting an entertaining fight between Canelo and Chavez shouted their disapproval of what was taking place in the squared circle. Canelo (49-1-1, 34 knockouts) was who we thought he was as he used his superior hand speed and footwork to outclass his opponent for every second of the fight.
As for Chavez Jr. (50-3-1), he was who we thought he was, as well, despite his looking the part by making weight and being in arguably the best shape of his career. However, he looked sluggish and lost against a nimble fighter as Canelo moved around the ring and plucked him at will with the jab. It was yet another letdown that had the fans who cheered for him early on berating him with boos and foul language. Another listless performance on a night where you can argue that Chavez pulled off the year’s biggest bank heists by raking in a guaranteed $3 million payday without having a significant win in over five years.
But most thought that Chavez could have made it interesting given his height, reach and size advantages. Also, it was assumed that he would be motivated like no fight before this considering that it was truly his last stand as a fighter of significance. He had the opportunity to prove his skeptics wrong but simply showed up to be used as a human piñata on Cinco De Mayo weekend.
“Canelo beat me, he beat me at the distance. He is a very active fighter—he’s very good and he beat me,” said Chavez. “I wanted to box but he went to the ropes and I just needed to throw more punches. I would’ve attacked more I would’ve been countered by his punches. Nacho told me to do that but the strategy didn’t work. The speed and the distance was the key. I didn’t feel that much power because I felt dwindled, I couldn’t throw as many punches as I wanted. My father kept telling me to throw more punches from the ringside.”
He clearly didn’t throw enough as Canelo dominated the Compubox scores by landing three times as many punches (228-71) while also throwing twice as many punches (606-302). It was as one-sided as the punch stats would lead you believe and perhaps even more disappointing to see play out in the ring.
It was a disappointing show for the bloodthirsty fans who came to see a war. But that certainly wasn’t Canelo’s fault. The 26-year-old boxed brilliantly behind a snapping jab that set the tone in the opening minute of the fight. With Chavez unable to do anything to stop the jab, Canelo slowly began to open up his offense by cutting loose combinations to the head and body. With Chavez unwilling to fire back, Canelo continued to ramp up the offense by adding an uppercut to his arsenal.
“Tonight I showed I could move, I could box, I showed as a fighter I can do all things,” said Canelo. “I thought I was going to showcase myself as a fighter that could throw punches, but he just wouldn’t do it. Ive shown I can do lots of things in the ring, anything a fighter brings—I’ve shown I can showcase myself.”
Chavez’ reluctance to engage was a bit of a surprise as the rounds went on and he sank deeper and deeper into a hole that only a knockout could dig him out of. It was eerily reminiscent of his listless first eleven rounds he fought against Sergio Martinez in 2012. However, there would be no heroic comeback in the 12th round from Chavez. To make it entertaining, Canelo would go as far to invite Chavez to hit him as he languished on the ropes but the son of Julio Cesar Chavez simply couldn’t (or wouldn’t) pull the trigger.
Honestly, the only drama in the fight came between rounds as Canelo refused to sit on the stool. Like the stool, Canelo would remain untouched for much of the fight. “I wanted to try something new,” Canelo said. “I never sit down in sparring and I didn’t want to sit here.’
The 120-108 scorecards weren’t much of a surprise after such a one-sided fight. But the big surprise came afterward when a video package played on the big screen announcing that Canelo and GGG will finally square off on Sept. 16 at a location that has yet to be determined.
The announcement came with a WWE-style flare as Golovkin entered the ring from backstage to meet his opponent as smoke and confetti sprayed throughout the arena. With speculation that the fight could happen later this year, the visual of the two fighters in the ring came as a pleasant surprise after such an underwhelming fight and clearly stole the show.
With the fans roaring their approval, both fighters made statements about the forthcoming September showdown that is easily the biggest fight that can be made in boxing.
“I feel very excited,” Golovkin said. “In September, it will be a different style—a big drama show. Canelo looked very good tonight, and 100 percent he is the biggest challenge of my career. Good luck to Canelo in September.”
As for Canelo, he didn’t shy away from letting his opponent in September know what he was facing.
“GGG—you are next my friend,” Canelo said. “The fight is done. I’ve never feared anyone, since I was 16 fighting as a professional. When I was born, fear was gone. I never got my share of fear. I’m very happy, and the rivalry is going to show my skills even more. I’ve had difficult fights, and that will no doubt be a tough fight. But, I always say, Canelo Alvarez is the best because I fight the best.”
Although boxing fans didn’t get their pint of blood with Canelo-Chavez, the mere thought of what’s to come in September almost makes what was seen in the ring forgivable.