By: Kirk Jackson
“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin
Considering this weekend’s blockbuster event, featuring pugilists skilled at telling stories with their fists, both competitors aim to produce a memorable experience and leave a positive lasting impression.
This historic battle will be for the WBA, WBO, and WBC titles held by super-middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KO’s) and for the IBF title belonging to Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant (21-0, 12 KO’s).
Alvarez aims to become the first-ever boxer from Mexico, to gain recognition as undisputed champion in any weight division, in the alphabet/multi-belt era.
“To be undisputed is history for Mexico and for everyone on my team,” said Alvarez to reporters. “To be the undisputed champion is just a great thing for my career.”
“This is very important for my country of Mexico. It’s important for me to become undisputed. It’s one of the most important fights of my life. I’m taking it very seriously and it means a lot to me.”
Plant wants to continue his unconventional path towards prominence.
He understands despite his championship accomplishments, he still isn’t regarded as one of the best fighters in the world and wants to cement his standing. He wants unification, he wants glory, he’ll leave everything in the ring to seize greatness.
“Being undisputed would mean a lot. I’ve sacrificed so much to this sport and I’ve been doing this a long time,” said Plant. “All that work would come down to one moment. I want my name in those history books and that’s the only reason that I’m here.”
“I know that people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m winning on November 6. All those people who tell me that I can’t do something, you live believable lives and you do believable things.”
“I promised myself that I was going to run this all the way to the top, with no problem crashing and burning along the way. I set out to live an unbelievable life and accomplish unbelievable things. Those people who doubt me are the very reason that I’m here.”
“No legacy is so rich as honesty.” – William Shakespeare
While it’s too early to ultimately predict the legacy of each fighter, this match can hold as a solid mark of reference when reviewing in time. There is much at stake for each fighter. Even though Alvarez has positive promotion and narratives spun in his favor across most mass media, there are critics who still question the validity of some of his accomplishments and standing within the sport.
Some of these questions are valid; they make for great debate and dialogue, especially when these topics are given the proper context and analysis. In a way, this fight for Alvarez is a fight for validity of sorts.
For Plant, he looks aesthetically pleasing as a fighter, but considering the lack of numerous great names across his resume compared to Alvarez, the question is how will he look against one of the elite, premier fighters of the sport?
Keys to Victory for Saul Alvarez:
• This is the biggest fight of Plant’s life and it is paramount for Alvarez to apply physical and mental pressure.
• Plant will be best served fighting at distance, so Alvarez must close the distance effectively and efficiently.
• Cut the ring off and control the ring real estate.
• Take the air out of Plant’s tires; attack the body and sap the speed and stamina from Plant.
• Neutralize Plant’s “Sweet Hands” primarily be negating the effectiveness of his jab. Slip and counter the jab; implore effective upper body movement.
• Practice patient hostility. Provide the constant threat of attack and rely on his advantage of experience.
Keys to Victory for Caleb Plant:
• Be attentive and active.
• The jab is key. The jab will have to be strong, stiff, and quick. At times, jab will have to come in bunches to minimize Alvarez’s counterattacks.
• Establish the proper distance to maximize his skill set; fighting from the outside and utilizing his superior height and reach.
• Continuing with the theme of mastering ring real estate, stay off the ropes and do not become a stationary target.
• Plant must punch Alvarez hard enough to earn Alvarez’s respect. He must operate to which he always presents a threat.
• Adaptability is crucial, as Alvarez is vastly more experienced. Plant will have to display dynamic abilities at different times to disguise his offense.
There are many questions that will be answered this weekend. It’s possible, even more questions will arise depending on the outcome and fashion.
One of those questions is will the business of boxing prevail?
The “business” is Alvarez. He is one of the faces of the sport. Perhaps, viewing from cynical but logical lens, from a business standpoint, it makes greater sense for Alvarez to win. Translation, if the fight is close, Alvarez will get the benefit of the doubt. Erislandy Lara, Floyd Mayweather, Gennady Golovkin can attest to that.
Plant must be honest with that reality and must be extraordinary to win and upset the business of boxing and throw off the ecosystem.
Not many, if any, are picking Plant to win. Alvarez is listed by Caesars Sportsbook as a 9-1 favorite to win their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event tonight. Super-middleweight contemporaries Anthony Dirrell and David Benavidez openly expressed their disdain for Plant leading up to this fight.
Another super-middleweight contemporary and most recent foe of Alvarez has his take on the fight.
“I don’t think he’s (Alvarez) the invincible man. I think that Plant’s got a very good boxing brain, he just needs to maintain his distance. Make sure you’re out of distance, don’t just think you’re out of distance because that’s the difference when you’re in with world level and elite level. He’s gotta make sure to be on his game all the way, I think he’s gonna give Canelo a good fight,” former two-division champion Billie Joe Saunders explained to Talk Sport.
“He’s obviously gotta keep it at long distance. Keep it very busy for the first six rounds and finish strong. He’s gotta certainly maintain that jab. Being orthodox – I was southpaw and that causes more problems – so he’s open to more counters obviously than what I would’ve been.”
“You’ve gotta maintain your range at safe distance and box nice, and hopefully the judges score the true boxing scorecards, rather than the name of Canelo.”
There are more lucrative options for Alvarez and for the business of boxing after this fight – should he walk away victorious.
Whether it’s undefeated two-time WBC super-middleweight champion David Benavidez, undefeated two-division (junior middleweight, middleweight) champion Jermall Charlo, even possibly undefeated two-world title (IBF, WBC) welterweight champion Errol Spence.
There’s a key parable, from a fictional character, Peter Parker, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” as that derives from the Christian bible verse of Parable of the Faithful Servant (Luke 12:48): “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
That’s why a lot may be asked of Alvarez. Greatness operates on different standards. More is asked, more is required – fair or unfair. People want to see the best competition possible; at least we’re told that’s what the standard should be, correct?
Fair competition, elite competition, the best facing the best, on equal footing. Establishing clarity in such a murky current dynamic.
Tracing back to Alvarez, how does he want to define his legacy, and how does this fight and accomplishment of unification (should he win) impact that?
Mass media imposes the narrative Alvarez is already an all-time great. That may be a true statement however, critics can point to plenty of discrepancies that can dimmer the light on his legacy.
Alvarez is an outstanding fighter; highly skilled, aesthetically entertaining to watch, extremely focused, tough, gritty, works extremely hard on his craft, those are facts. The history of catch-weights, allegations of PED usage, failed drug tests, preferential treatment from sanctioning are facts as well.
May not be enjoyable information to digest, but the pill of truth isn’t always easy to swallow.
The winners tend to write history, along with claiming fortune, fortune in the form of currency, or in the form of glorious achievement. The pursuit of supremacy.
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