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The Rocky Road to Canelo

By: Ste Rowen

Just over three years ago Rocky Fielding was still trying to pick himself up from a devastating first round knockout loss to Callum Smith. Knocked down three times before trying but being unable to continue on the fourth time down in an all-Liverpool matchup for the British super-middleweight title.

Around about the same time, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez had decisioned future hall of famer, Miguel Cotto in a competitive but domineering performance.

Who could have predicted back then, or even mere months ago, that the two would meet in a headline show at Madison Square Garden?

‘‘It was who landed who really wasn’t it? And he got the shot’’ Rocky said of the Smith bout post-fight.

On that night in November 2015 Rocky was dropped within 28 seconds, went into survival mode and tried to fight fire with fire, unsuccessfully. However, it’s clearly a knock he learnt from as in his close comeback fight with Christopher Rebrasse six months later, he was heavily put down in round 2 but rose on the bell and stayed measured in his approach to eventually regain the ground lost early on.

Since earning a split decision victory over the Frenchman in 2016, Fielding has been busy reshaping his career, ensuring he’s remembered for his victories rather than, so far, his one defeat.

‘Rocky from Stocky’ finally got his hands on the British belt he missed out on against Smith when he fought out a brilliantly competitive fight with John Ryder in early 2017, winning via a slightly controversial split decision but arguably more significant was his stoppage victory over Tyron Zeuge earlier this year, to claim the secondary WBA world title in Germany.

In Offenburg last July, Fielding waited out Tyron’s early plan of attack before launching his own offense and punish the WBA ‘Regular’ champion through rounds 4 and 5 until the eventual left hook body-shot-finish that ended the fight.

Though Zeuge is undoubtedly levels below the quality of fighter Canelo is, Fielding’s plan this weekend may be similar to the one he employed against the German.

So, can Fielding do it? Almost all the evidence to date suggests not, or, everyone’s favourite phrase, ‘He has a puncher’s chance’ but he may not even have that. The unified middleweight champion has continuously proved that as well as his much-lauded defensive movement and power; that red-headed Mexican has one helluva chin too, having tasted the best that Gennady Golovkin has to offer and managed to stay upright.

At 27-1 (15KOs) and having racked up a number of domestic amateur titles, Rocky has been in with an extensive variety of styles. His height in comparison is the most obvious difference and having always been a rangy fighter, the WBA ‘Regular’ champion will need to force his fight on the Mexican early on if he wants any chance of getting the stoppage. Because let’s face it, even if he somehow dominates Alvarez over the 12-round distance, he’s not getting the judge’s decision.

He’s told Sky Sports News that he’s taking inspiration from fellow Merseyside-fighter, Tony Bellew who accumulated stoppage victories over Ilunga Makabu and David Haye twice, and his trainer, Jamie Moore has a firm plan A in mind to beat the pound-for-pound boxer,

‘‘He (Canelo) will have to overcome the difference in length which creates danger that he will walk onto shots…Golovkin had success in closing the distance and we can map out our game plan based on that.

Nailing him upstairs is a hard task but not impossible.’’

Win, lose or draw on Saturday, Rocky serves as inspiration to boxers who have faulted domestically but learned to overcome and maneuverer his way into the most profitable opposition outside of the heavyweights.

The unpredictable matchup awaits, but will we get an unpredictable result?

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