Canelo Alvarez says Rocky Fielding’s size won’t matter
NEW YORK – Canelo Alvarez looked ripped and athletic weighing in at 167.4 pounds at yesterday’s weigh-in inside Madison Square Garden, where he faces Rocky Fielding tonight.
Fielding, The Ring’s No. 9-rated super middleweight, is on a six-bout win streak including a fifth-round stoppage of unbeaten Tyron Zeuge, which earned him the WBA’s “regular” title in his last bout in Germany. However, the 31-year-old Englishman is a decided underdog against Alvarez, who is making his New York city debut with the first bout of his record-breaking deal with DAZN streaming sports service.
More than a few fans and media members think Fielding (27-1, 15 KOs) will get blown out by the Mexican star as he was against current Ring/WBA super middleweight champ Callum Smith back in November 2015.
But those who give Fielding a shot at going some quality rounds and making a proper fight of it do so because of the Liverpool native’s size. Fielding, who is at least four inches taller than Alvarez, fought at light heavyweight during the first half of his pro career. He’s big. The biggest opponent Alvarez has faced since the middleweight champ fought Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Will the Brit’s size advantage give him a fighting chance tonight?
“I don’t know if I’d call it an advantage,” Alvarez told media prior to Thursday’s final press conference. “I’m going up in weight to his comfort zone, that’s the risk I’m taking, but I’m a strong fighter and I know how to adapt.”
Alvarez was known to put on considerable poundage following weigh-ins, even when he was junior middleweight champ. He admits that he’ll probably be around the light heavyweight limit tonight when he steps into the ring. However, the Fielding is expected to be a lot heavier given his large, rangy frame. And weighing as much as a super middleweight or light heavyweight on fight night is not the same as competing with natural 168 and 175 pounders.
Alvarez proved to be a world-class middleweight with the 24 rounds he went with Gennady Golovkin in his last two bouts, however, he admits that he’s unproven at super middleweight even though he faced Chavez Jr. at 164.5-pound catchweight last May.
“The truth is, I can’t really say (what it’s like to fight a super middleweight) because that night (against Chavez) I didn’t have an opponent,” Alvarez said, tossing a barb at the non-effort given by Chavez, who he shutout over 12 one-sided rounds.
“That’s the intrigue (of this fight with Rocky), that’s my challenge, moving up in weight, but I’m an elite fighter and I know how to adapt to any situation.”
Hardcore fans are curious about Alvarez’s situation in 2019. Who will he fight? Will he stay at super middleweight?
“The idea right now is to win this title, God willing, and then go back to 160 pounds, but if I can move up and down, why not, if there are good fights (at both weights),” Alvarez said.
Smith is promoted by Matchroom Boxing, which has a broadcast deal with DAZN, but the rest of the 168-pound division offers little since beltholders Gilberto Ramirez, David Benavidez and Jose Uzcategui have promotional/network allegiances that would prevent them from fighting Alvarez.
Middleweight titleholders Daniel Jacobs and Demetrius Andrade have working relationships with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom that would make unification showdowns with Alvarez possible. And Golovkin, who remains boxing biggest free agent, is a possibility (if the former champ decides to sign some sort of deal with DAZN).
“All these fighters want to fight me,” Alvarez acknowledged, “and we’ll see (what happens) in 2019, but right now I’m focused on the fight in front of me.”
Alvarez is understandably stoked to be fighting at The World’s Most Famous Arena.
“It’s a landmark in my career to be fighting at Madison Square Garden, where the greats like Muhammad Ali fought,” he said. “I’ve wanted to fight here for quite some time. It’s an honor.”
For Fielding, it’s more than an honor, it’s a dream come true.
Like the “Rocky” from the film franchise, Fielding is a former club fighter getting the opportunity of a lifetime against boxing’s biggest star – that it takes place at The Garden is only gravy.
And Fielding is savoring every drop of it.
“My amateur background was average,” he said. “My professional debut was fought at a leisure center with 500 people, no promoter, no TV, I had to sell tickets (to get paid).”
Fielding wanted to be a “footballer” as a kid. He found a boxing gym to help stay fit for his chosen sport, sparred for the first time, “took a few smacks,” and got hooked. The big boxing goal he set for himself as a kid was to win the British title. He failed to do it vs. Smith but earned it when he beat John Ryder by split nod last April.
In a way, he’s been living his dreams ever since.
“It’s just meant to be,” Fielding said of tonight’s dream opportunity. “Three years ago, I was in New York on holiday. I took in a Knicks game, and sat in the top tiers of The Garden. And now, here I am, in the main event at ‘MSG.’ I’m just soakin’ it all up.”
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer.