What did we just watch? Saul Alvarez vs. Julio Chavez Jr. Aftermath
By: Kirk Jackson
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 49-1-1 (34 KO’s) destroyed Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. 50-3-1 (32 KO’s) in a bout marketed as a Mexican Civil-War over Cinco de Mayo weekend.
In what resembled an obvious mismatch from the opening bell, Alvarez pummeled Chavez Jr. over the course of 12 rounds.
How was Alvarez able to seamlessly destroy Chavez Jr. at will after all the hype behind the fight? Where was the retaliation from Chavez Jr.?
What happened to the narrative and stereotype of all Mexicans fighting to the death, leaving it all in the ring?
What we witnessed was a combination of five factors:
Difference in skill/experience –
Alvarez is the more experienced of the two in spite of having relatively the same amount of fights. The difference is world titlists faced; 13 compared to six for Chavez Jr.
Alvarez gained an education fighting the likes of Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather, Amir Khan, Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout, etc., which is a step up compared to guys like Andy Lee, Carlos Molina and Sergio Martinez for Chavez Jr.
Regarding skill, Alvarez has superior upper body movement, foot work, punch-variation, punch accuracy, counter-punching ability and great overall awareness.
In short, Alvarez made the fight look like a sparring match – he even stood up in his corner between rounds.
Difference in weight –
How much did Chavez Jr. sacrifice while cutting weight? His punches lacked snap and his timing was off. It’s unfair to say this is primarily due to weight loss, however it is fair to speculate.
Chavez Jr. attributed his performance to inactivity.
“Canelo is a great fighter, he did his job tonight and the inactivity, it hurt me here tonight,” Chavez Jr. said.
“I always thought he was a good fighter. He just had better timing, a better fighter tonight. The activity helped him and inactivity hindered me.”
The addition of weight for this fight clearly affected Alvarez in a positive way. He looked more energetic and his body responded well to the higher weight.
By most observers, Alvarez was considered huge at 154 lbs. and the last few years Alvarez may have done his body a disservice fighting at that weight.
Alvarez may have also fooled the public for years, killing himself to squeeze down to 154 lbs.
Leading up to the fight against Chavez Jr., Alvarez suggested the preparation during his camp and the sparring in particular helped acclimate to bigger foes.
“I’ve been feeling very good. I’ve been training with sparring partners who are much bigger, who are light heavyweights that are much bigger than me,” he said.
“I’m feeling very comfortable, and very strong. I’m not having to dehydrate as much. I’m still having to go down in weight because I’m above the weight that the fight is scheduled at, but I don’t have to dehydrate totally.”
He looked fresh, like a brand new rejuvenated fighter. Although beating up a punching bag in human form (Chavez Jr.) doesn’t hurt.
Which leads to the next factor…
“It was really negative, everything, totally, we did not win a round. It is not possible to cover the sun with a finger, Canelo Alvarez is simply better technically speaking,” Nacho Berstain said to ESPN Deportes.
“I asked him to throw punches, simply to throw punches but he was afraid to throw a jab or a certain combination because he knew that three or four punches would come back in return, and those doubts were born in his head real early and they stayed with him for the entire fight.”
Berstain, the trainer of Chavez Jr. for the fight against Alvarez specified the main problem; speed and technical ability.
We knew entering the fight Alvarez held the advantage of hand speed and foot speed, but the speed and reflexes of Alvarez kept Chavez Jr. passive throughout the fight.
There’s an old adage in boxing, “Speed kills,” and this was not an exception.
Retaliation, the counter-action to an action and then the threat of retaliation is what keeps aggressive fighters at distance.
Speed, timing and the threat of attack is the greatest asset for any counter-puncher.
There’s another proverb, “A tiger never changes its stripes,” this was another example with Chavez Jr. Not to beat up on the guy (no pun intended), but there is a history of poor training habits and not performing well in big fights.
The fight against Martinez is a prime example, as he lost every round with the exception of the 12th round when he scored a knock down.
History repeated itself this past weekend, with the exception of Chavez Jr. scoring a knock down or landing anything significant.
“I don’t blame the fans for being frustrated with is performance, they are quite right in feeling that way, and I feel the same way too, and he must also be frustrated, his father too, everyone,” said Berstain regarding the fight against Alvarez.
“He should apply himself and he should behave like a boxing pro and success will come to him.”
Professionalism is something Chavez Jr. should continue to practice going forward. An example on a lack of professionalism is his series of failed drug tests in the past.
On February 28th, 2013, Chavez Jr. was suspended for nine months and fined $900,000 (30 percent of his purse) by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for testing positive for marijuana following his loss to Martinez.
It was the second failed test for Chavez Jr., who in 2009 tested positive for a banned diuretic following his bout with Troy Rowland.
Chavez Jr. may be past the failed test issues but there is still a lack of consistency.
Which transitions to the last factor…
Gift and curse of the name –
Chavez Jr. is named after Mexican great Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. No matter how hard he tries, it’s damn near impossible to live up to or exceed his father’s accomplishments.
Escaping his father’s shadow is a difficult task and something Chavez Jr. struggled with his entire career in spite of the success achieved as a professional and the accomplishments achieved outside the ring as a man.
This comparison is a struggle the children of other famous celebrities deal with as well.
Basketball icon Michael Jordan (Jeffrey and Marcus Jordan) can relate, the children of LeBron James may endure similar comparisons and obstacles well.
Chavez Jr. has lived in his father’s shadow ever since he was a child and it’s an unfair situation to be placed in.
There was often a question of heart and desire regarding Chavez Jr. A question of why is he fighting?
Some suggest he is fighting for the acceptance of his father. Fighting for his father’s approval, his father’s respect and love – which he already appears to have.
Chavez Sr. always appears unconditionally supportive of his son.
But when your motives are in question, when there is a question of identity and what your heart truly wants, in many cases the fighter will not perform to expectations.
Only Chavez Jr. can answer these questions, but this may explain the performances throughout his career and what some critics deem as underachieving.
Because of the name, Chavez Jr. was afforded special opportunities. But because of the name, it was impossible to meet expectations.