Can Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Defeat Canelo Alvarez?
By: Kirk Jackson
Saturday May 6, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 48-1-1 (34 KO’s) of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico engages in Mexican-civil war with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., 50-2-1 (32 KO’s) of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Headlining HBO PPV, this is a bout at a catch-weight of 164.5 lbs. The betting odds reflect Alvarez as the huge favorite (Alvarez -880, Chavez Jr. +590).
“This fight has always been good because it is good for Mexico, for boxing. And for me it’s a great opportunity. I have to prepare well, I have to be in good condition. I need to apply pressure on him [Alvarez] in a way that he’s never experienced,” said Chavez Jr.
“I need to connect on him, put him in trouble to see how he reacts. I think this fight is heating up and now that fight week is coming up it’s going to be even more credible, because a lot of people thought it would never happen.”
Chavez Jr. has the right idea; applying consistent pressure, preparing for the wide range of skills possessed by Alvarez and ultimately creating an environment and experience Alvarez is not accustomed to.
But it’s easier said than done.
Alvarez is an outstanding fighter, possessing a myriad of traits and skills Chavez Jr. has to be mindful of.
Although observers may fall under hypnosis, admiring the flare of the red-haired Mexican superstar affectionately referred to as “Canelo,”who has substance to go along with style.
Displaying pronounced form and technique, Alvarez is a versatile combination puncher, possessing fast hands and explosive punching power.
Alvarez is great at punishing the body and the head; can seamlessly maneuver from mid-range to the inside, delivering powerful hooks to liver while slipping return fire.
From a defensive standpoint, Alvarez has great upper body movement and slips punches well, emulating his best impression of Floyd Mayweather at times. He also does a great job dictating the pace; fighting patient and setting up smaller traps and punches en route to the bigger punch.
Although a weakness of Alvarez is his lack of foot speed against some of the smaller fighters he faced throughout his career (Mayweather, Amir Khan, Erislandy Lara) – this should not be a weakness against the larger, slower Chavez Jr.
Alvarez appears to have genuine dislike for Chavez Jr. as well.
“He never represented Mexico,” Alvarez said. “He was never a dignified representative of Mexico. He was on a path to become one, but he reached a point where he couldn’t give anymore and he simply couldn’t. He never was, nor did he ever reach to become it.”
The contrast from Alvarez’s perspective is he came up tough in the ranks and never had opportunities handed to him.
Turning professional at age 15, Alvarez has the experience against greater opposition; Khan, Lara, Mayweather, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Alfredo Angulo, James Kirkland, Austin Trout, etc.
This all factors as to why Alvarez is favored against Chavez. But for Chavez Jr. supporters, there is hope.
Chavez Jr. is this bigger man and must use size to his advantage.To “Big G’s” point, Alvarez has a track record of fighting much smaller opposition. From Chavez Jr.’s camp, they must expose Alvarez with size and pressure.
Regarding size, the fight may depend how Chavez Jr. eliminates excess weight. If it’s last minute draining, along with poor training habits, Chavez Jr. will resemble a humanized version of a punching bag.
But with the enlisting of legendary trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain, along with renowned boxing fitness coach Memo Heredia, Chavez Jr. appears serious for the biggest fight of his career.
“I think I’ve made a good preparation and I enjoy what I do. It’s a sacrifice and you have to know how to do it – with Don Nacho and with my uncle I was able to focus on what I should have done after the Martinez fight and here are the results,” Chavez Jr. said.
There is long-standing hatred between Alvarez and Chavez Jr., an emotion Chavez Jr. should take advantage of.
It’s easy to sense the tension between Chavez Jr. and Alvarez; Chavez Jr. should play to Alvarez’s emotions and turn this from a boxing match to a brawl.
With constant application of pressure, make this fight resemble the first encounter between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito.
Cotto, the more skilled of the two on paper, dominated early rounds, displaying speed, power and combination punching. His defense was on display as he avoided most of Margarito’s slower-punched retaliation.
But Cotto paid a cost. He exerted a tremendous amount of energy trying to avoid Margarito’s return fire and eventually faded as the fight wore on.
Constant pressure can physically and mentally wear on an opponent. Illegal hand wraps can as well.
“My best rounds are those in the middle, the final ones. I’ll try not to lose any of them, because I do not want to leave it to the judges with a decision. I want to knock him out so I don’t leave anything to the judges,” said Chavez Jr.
Greater skill doesn’t always prevail against larger size. Alvarez, the more skilled of the two on paper, never fought anyone as large as Chavez Jr.
“With the experience I have I’ve come to put on a good fight. It will be hard, difficult. I have confidence that I can get past this commitment and have a good result, a good fight where I can knock him out, beat him like I said I would and I have prepared with that mentality,” Chavez Jr. said.
That’s plan A; overwhelm Alvarez with pressure, keep marching forward despite the incoming punishment he may receive moving forward, use his larger body to lean on Alvarez, wear him out and drag to the later rounds for a potential knockout.
Despite his large frame, Chavez Jr. has an uncanny ability to fight on the inside, and like his father, can deliver a pulverizing left hook.
But there is an old adage in boxing, “Never hook with a hooker.” Chavez Jr. must be conscious of Alvarez’s left hook on the inside. This brings up plan B.
Alvarez likes to throw hooks and keep the fight from mid-range to inside sporadically. Skillful as he is, Alvarez is at a disadvantage fighting from the outside. Viewers and Alvarez observed this first-hand against Khan, Lara and Mayweather.
Khan, Lara and Mayweather operate on a different skill level than Chavez Jr., but this can be a different look to force Alvarez into an aggressive pace – the pace Chavez Jr. should push for.
Keep Alvarez at bay with a constant jab, force the smaller fighter to work and exhaust energy on his way to the inside if he wants to mount an attack, while presenting different looks and providing mental challenges as well as physical.
Utilize the jab like he did against John Duddy and Peter Manfredo Jr. in the past. Press forward with aggression as he did against Andy Lee.
It’s unlikely Chavez Jr. will win on points, most critics have him losing regardless. But he can win utilizing strengths to his style and physical build if he implements the proper game plan.