Canelo-Chavez Jr: Bad Blood
By: Sean Crose
If one thing has emerged in the months leading up to this weekend’s Canelo Alvarez-Julio Caesar Chavez Jr fight in Vegas it’s the irrefutable fact that both men seem to have a big problem with one another. In one of those strange turns of events that life throws peoples way, Junior has gone from being boxing’s spoiled brat to boxing’s gritty underdog…and not without reason. Canelo, on the other hand, has gone in the past year or two from boxing’s bright light to boxing’s latest diva – and least that’s the case in the eyes of many fans. Throw in the fact that both fighters are Mexican stars and the recipe is there for a grudge match.
HBOs Max Kellerman-hosted Face Off was indeed fascinating recently when Canelo and Junior sat across from one another. Junior wasn’t afraid to try to get inside Canelo’s head. And perhaps he succeeded. Making it clear he thought Canelo was downright afraid of middleweight terror Gennady Golovkin, Junior indicated Canelo chose him as his next opponent because, well, Canelo thought Junior was easy pickings. The look on Canelo’s face made it obvious to all that he didn’t like what he was hearing. Not a bit.
Canelo, though, did himself no favors, giving the impression – at least to this writer – that he felt being the “A Side” was something worth discussing in the lead up to a major fight. Junior put Canelo on the spot, true, but there were better ways Canelo could have handled it. Perhaps responding to Junior as if he were some glorified tuneup might have successfully put the ball in Canelo’s court. Canelo didn’t do that, though. Instead, he let Junior play the very legitimate role of underdog to the hilt, while making himself appear to be less the solid sportsman in the process. Point, Junior.
All of this, of course, means the one thing that really matters – the fight itself – might actually be quite exciting. Canelo has a ton to prove here – especially in the face of accusations of cherry picking. And Junior? Junior has everything to gain from a massive, and it will certainly be massive, upset victory over Canelo this weekend. Throw what seems to be the legitimate bad blood between the two combatants into the blender and the concoction might well be something thrilling. The only question now is: Will bad blood make for a great fight? After last week’s Joshua-Klitschko thriller, this major bout has a lot to live up to.