Quienes el Rey? Canelo Alvarez or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.?
By: Kirk Jackson
Who is the King of Mexico?
Mexico, a nation historically grand with tremendous boxerspast and present – Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricardo Lopez, Erik Morales, Salvador Sanchez, Lupe Pintor, Daniel Zaragoza, Marco Antonio Barrera, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., – the list goes on.
Many terms come to mind when describing the proto-typical Mexican fighter; powerful, gritty, technical and passionate.
To quote Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, “In Mexicao, we don’t fuck around!”
While Alvarez may not embody all of the generalizations and traits of the standard Mexican fighter, in this era with all eyes are on Alvarez, he is the torch bearer for Mexican boxing and one of the mainstream stars of boxing period.
As the A-side of any proposed match-up, Alvarez aims to establish himself as Mexico’s boxing king.
Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., who many perceive as Mexico’s grandest king, undoubtedly ruled the kingdom with iron fists and an iron chin to match during his reign in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., inherited some of his father’s physical attributes, but failed to follow his father’s footsteps as Mexico’s numerouno.
Escaping his father’s shadow is a difficult task and something Chavez Jr. struggled with his entire career in spite of success as a professional. The children of basketball icon Michael Jordan (Jeffrey and Marcus Jordan) can relate.
Alvarez now faces the son of the former king Chavez Jr.,in a highly anticipated, Mexican civil-war this weekend.
A match-up and rivalry years in the making, as both parties appear to have genuine dislike for one another and for what each party represents.
“I’ve always said that when you have two Mexican warriors, people will come out to show their support because they recognize that it’s going to be a great fight, it’s going to be a lot of action, it’s what the people want to see,” said Golden Boy Promoter Oscar De La Hoya.
“I am in this sport, as a promoter, to help the sport grow and these fights are pure emotion.”
Ironically, this match takes place during an Americanized holiday weekend Cinco de Mayo and on American soil.
However many questions underlie the main proposed inquiry; who is the king of Mexico – as Alvarez and Chavez are the two biggest names across the landscape.
Odds reflect on the surface, Alvarez is the betting favorite.For his part, Chavez Jr. prefers to be underestimated.
“They [Alvarez] do not want me to be at my best. They picked me because of my inactivity; I broke my hand, my disregard for training in the gym – but that’s good for me, because we’re going to try to give him a surprise,” Chavez Jr. said in an interview with Boxing Scene.
“I think they took the fight because of that, because they believe that I am not at 100% and that’s a benefit for me.”
Comparing credentials and accoladesAlvarez, is more accomplished as a fighter.
Alvarez is a four-time world champion, possesses a record of 10-1 (6 KO’s) in world title fights and a record of 11-1 (4 KO’s) against former or current world titlists.
Chavez Jr. is the former WBC middleweight champion, possesses a record of 4-1 (2 KO’s) in world title fights and a record of 3-1-1 (1 KO’s) against former world titlists.
While the consensus is Chavez Jr. is outgunned regarding hand speed, punching power, offensive punch versatility, counter-punching, defense, overall skills among other attributes, boxing matches are not won on paper and Chavez Jr. is capable of an upset.
“With the experience I have I’ve come to put on a good fight,” Chavez Jr. said to Sports Addiction.
“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. acquired the services of legendary trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain, along with renownedboxing fitness coach Memo Heredia to assist with preparation for Alvarez.
Even with the services of Beristain and Heredia, defeating Alvarez will be a tall task for Chavez Jr.
“Nacho has the experience, he has the maturity to be able to help Chavez Jr. a lot – but even if you have the best coaches, they will not be able to help you if are not a disciplined fighter, “ says Beristain pupil Juan Manuel Marquez.
“Nacho is a disciplined coach and that injects you a lot of motivation.”
The fight between Alvarez and Chavez Jr. is a tale of two opposing stories and backgrounds. Most boxing fans recognize the name “Chavez” and realize the historic significance behind the name.
Chavez Jr. is the son of legendary Mexican pugilist Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.; an influential hero to fans and fighters alike.Chavez Jr. however, had the impossible task of walking in his father’s shoes; constantly dealing with comparisons and criticisms.
Chavez admittedly not only failed to live up to the bench mark of his father, but to the standards of a champion.
Failed drug tests, weight issues, lack of quality opposition, questionable decisions, etc., drew the ire from many observers; fans and boxing writers alike. Many wondered if Chavez Jr. was the classic example of nepotism gone wrong.
Alvarez descends from a fighting family, with older brothers competing in the professional ranks as well. The youngest of eight children Canelo, achieved the highest level of the profession, becoming world champion four-times over.
Alvarez turned professional at age 15, arguably had a more difficult rise towards the top and wants to remain there.
This fight has significant meaning for both parties. For Chavez, this is a fight for redemption, a fight that will help define his legacy. For Alvarez, this fight is important for his family and his legacy, as well as building towards the proposed match-up with unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
Golden Boy Promotion’s De La Hoya says we can expect a fight similar to that rivalry on Saturday night.
“Just like the old days, you feel the electricity in the air,” De La Hoya said in describing the significance of this fight.
De La Hoya continued, “There’s animosity toward each other, I can’t really explain it. There’s a lot of pride at stake. They have many years around each other, and you have to go back. Something happened. I don’t know if Canelo triggered it or Canelo triggered it, but they don’t like each other. They genuinely despise each other. In terms of action, I can see this fight unfolding like Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera.”
To quote hip-hop legend Nas, “There’s one life, one love, so there can only be one King!”
So who will it be? Alvarez or Chavez?