Canelo-Chavez: Why We Thought Junior Had a Chance
By: Sean Crose
What was it that led so many of us – myself certainly included – to believe Julio Caesar Chavez Junior would make a good showing last Saturday evening against Saul Canelo Alvarez in Vegas? Junior had proven himself to be less than serious about the sport of boxing over the years, after all. Furthermore, he was up against a foe in Alvarez who had a long track record of professionalism and dedication to craft. Again, what were so many of us thinking? Before the self-flagellation begins, let’s step back and look at things objectively. For starters, Canelo had, fairly or not, been looking like less and less the sportsman of late.
Sure, the red haired star had been a take on all comers sort for a while, but a steady diet of Liam Smiths and Amir Khans appeared to indicate the fighter may have chosen to take a decidedly less ambitious approach in more recent days. Fans are right to wonder when a popular fighter like Canelo pushes off a chance to fight a popular fighter like Gennady Golovkin over and over again. And so, ironically enough, it made sense for some to question whether or not Canelo was taking the craft of boxing as seriously as he once did.
In the meantime, Canelo’s less talented opponent looked to actually – wait for it – be working hard in camp. He was dropping weight, he wasn’t reportedly out partying and he looked to finally be heeding the words of an esteemed trainer (this time around, the man in his corner was the legendary Nacho Beristain). With Canelo possibly playing the role of boxing diva and Junior possibly growing up (albeit belatedly), why wouldn’t people give the son of the great Julio Caesar Chavez a chance of winning? Junior was bigger than Canelo, was handling things like an adult and looked to have something to prove.
Or so we thought. Ultimately, Saturday evening ended up presenting one of the most disappointing fights in recent memory. The only thing that saved the evening, or nearly saved it, was the announcement afterwards that Canelo would finally be facing Golovkin in September. Pondering the whole thing endlessly these past few days, I can’t even assure myself that Junior didn’t try against Canelo, as so many have asserted. It seemed like he simply might have been so badly outclassed that he wasn’t even sure if and when he should throw a punch.
Junior was the underdog, though, and people love underdogs. Even more than that, people love redemption stories, and even a close loss would have redeemed Junior in the eyes of many. It was simply not meant to be, though. Junior embarrassed himself in the ring – whether he meant to or not – then threw the respected Beristain under the bus afterward for the elder gentleman’s fight strategy. Truth be told, the only strategy that would have worked on Saturday would have been Junior entering the ring with an aluminum bat in his hands.
Anything less may well have produced the same result.