By: Hans Themistode
After fighting at middleweight for several years and outside of making a brief, yet successful cameo at light heavyweight, Canelo Alvarez has officially found a home at 168 pounds.
The four-division titlist made his latest ring appearance this past weekend as he handed previously undefeated Callum Smith a one-sided beating. The win for Alvarez not only netted him the WBC/Ring magazine titles, but it also reinforced the belief of trainer Abel Sanchez that Canelo Alvarez will go virtually unmatched in his new division.
Whether it’s a possible showdown with IBF titlist Caleb Plant or a contest against WBO belt holder Billy Joe Saunders, Sanchez will consistently back Alvarez. However, there is someone out there who he does believe could and would give the pound for pound star all that he could handle.
“There’s only one guy at that weight that can get an upset against Canelo,” said Sanchez on Fight Hub TV. “That’s a young man named David Benavidez. That is the cream of the crop at that weight right there other than Canelo. The only guy that I think can give Canelo fits is David Benavidez.”
The thoughts of Sanchez don’t simply come from an outsider’s perspective. As the former trainer of IBF middleweight titlist Gennadiy Golovkin, Sanchez was given a close look at what the now 24-year-old was capable of. While Golovkin is best known for destroying his competition, his preparation in large part was aided by a young Benavidez.
“I had him in camp sparring with Golovkin at a very young age. Probably the best sparring I ever had for Golovkin and this young man was still an amateur. Was three or four years from turning pro. I’ve seen him spar with guys at the Wild Card Gym, seasoned guys and it was easy for him. If he was doing that back then, imagine now. He’s a much better fighter today.”
Sanchez, of course, cornered Golovkin in back to back fights against Alvarez. A controversial draw in 2017 and a more definitive split decision loss, the first of Golovkin’s career. While Sanchez was once hesitant to name Alvarez as the best fighter in the world several years ago, now however, he has no issue stating that the Mexican product is in fact on top of his pound-for-pound charts.
Still, his high placement in the mind of Sanchez doesn’t mean he’s unbeatable. It would simply take a special fighter to do so. A description he believes Benavidez fits perfectly.
“I think Benavidez gives anybody that he fights fits. Not just because of his defensive ability but he’s able to switch gears so easily. He’ll lay on the ropes and mess around. All of a sudden he’ll put it in another gear and he’ll become a different fighter. He’s the only fighter I believe could give Canelo real problems.”
By: Hans Themistode
When Callum Smith is juxtaposed to Canelo Alvarez, everything is tilted in his favor.
Height? Check. Reach? Check. Even in terms of knockout percentage, Smith edges ahead. Despite all of the numbers being in his benefit, former trainer of Gennadiy Golovkin in Abel Sanchez, doesn’t believe any of that will matter once the two face off later on tonight at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
“I think it’ll be an easy fight for him,” said Sanchez during a recent interview with Fight Hub TV. “Canelo is the number one fighter in the world right now. You can’t look at Canelo’s record and who’s he fought and say he’s not number one. He’s got the best record of anyone in boxing right now.”
Having faced Alvarez in back to back contests when he cornered Gennadiy Golovkin, Sanchez knows first hand just how good he is. Since those showdowns, Alvarez has gone on to win world titles at both light heavyweight and super middleweight. In his most recent ring appearance, the Mexican product scored an 11th round stoppage win over former WBO 175 pound titlist Sergey Kovalev.
While most have given Alvarez credit for the win, others have disparaged it by pointing to Kovalev’s age and the wear and tear on his body. That however, is bullshit to Sanchez.
“Look at what did to Kovalev who’s a much better fighter than Callum Smith is. What? All of a sudden Kovalev grew old in one fight? No, he just got his ass whopped by Canelo.”
For Alvarez, his showdown with Smith will be the second in the super middleweight division. His first contest came roughly two years ago against Rocky Fielding. In what was predicted to be a mismatch, Alvarez stomped on his man, dropping him four times before finishing him off in the third round.
Smith, to his credit, laid a demolition job of his on Fielding three years prior, stopping him before the end of the first round.
By all accounts, Smith is viewed as a much better fighter. With that being said, Sanchez is under the belief that the beating that Alvarez handed to Fielding will look similar to the one he hands out to Smith later on tonight.
“I think that Callum gives him a little tougher fight than Rocky Fielding. I think he’s a better fighter but still, Canelo is at the top of his game right now. I think it’ll be an easy fight for him.”
By: Hans Themistode
When Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Teofimo Lopez was first announced, there were only two possible outcomes that could occur for their highly anticipated matchup. Either the Ukrainian native would box circles around his younger opponent for 12 full rounds, or the younger and more explosive Lopez would turn off Lomachenko’s lights.
Yet, when the two matched up this past weekend with all of the lightweight marbles on the line, none of those perceived notions came true.
Lopez, 23, easily outboxed his man during the first half of their contest, winning the first six rounds on most viewers scorecards. The Brooklyn native also finished strong, although Lomachenko held the clear edge during the second half.
It was puzzling to watch who many suspect was the best boxer of his generation in Lomachenko, fight so passively early on. His connect rate of four punches per round through the first half was a far cry from the normally active and accurate fighter many had grown accustomed to seeing.
Amongst those who were baffled by what they were witnessing was trainer, Abel Sanchez. As the rounds ticked by and the deficit grew for Lomachenko, Sanchez simply couldn’t believe what he was watching.
“I didn’t think that Lopez was going to a decision because of the experience on Loma’s side but he gave away too many rounds during the first part of the fight,” said Sanchez to Fight Hub TV. ”You can’t give anybody half of the fight. It wasn’t necessary for him to do that.”
Lomachenko’s boxing IQ has often been described as a supercomputer, downloading information quickly before using all his newfound data to destroy his opponents. With that being said, the Ukrainian product simply wasn’t able to process what was standing in front of him fast enough. Many, including team Lopez, believe the power kept Lomachenko both honest and worried. To Sanchez however, if you took time to watch Lopez’s highlight reel, the power was obvious, but not his other attribute.
“I don’t think the power was the issue. The power Loma can deal with because he has great defense. I think Loma was surprised by the speed. I don’t think they wanted to give away six rounds, maybe part of it. But again, I think the speed was something Loma wasn’t expecting. He wasn’t able to counter as well as he usually does because of the speed of Lopez.”
Watching Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) over the years has impressed Sanchez. The way he saunters into a room and makes brazen and aggressive predictions has caught his attention as well. But as he witnessed the 23 year old outbox Lomachenko this past weekend, a light bulb has gone off in his head in terms of a suitable comparison.
“I think that Teofimo Lopez is the closet that we’ve come in the last 30-35 years to Roberto Duran. He has that meanness, he has that bravado, he has that skill but he still has a lot to learn and a long way to go to be compared to Roberto Duran. But he’s as close as we’ve seen in a long, long time.”
By: Hans Themistode
Whenever Gennadiy Golovkin’s name came up on the boxing schedule, both fans and his opponents could expect one thing. Pain, and a lot of it.
Unlike most boxing matches where both men could easily hurt the other, when Golovkin fought, the pain was always one way traffic. Fight after fight, Golovkin found himself on the Sports Center highlight reel.
Knockouts in the fifth round, stoppages in the second and numerous TKOs in the first. Golovkin’s highlight tape has it all.
But it wasn’t just that Golovkin was handing out beatings left and right, but he also didn’t receive as much as a scar. In 350 amateur fights, by the way he won 345 of them, and 41 professional contests, Golovkin has never hit the ground let alone been visibly hurt.
But as they say, Father Time is undefeated and Golovkin, now aged 38, looked a bit vulnerable recently. In his last ring appearance against Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Golovkin seemed to be hurt by a body shot in the fifth round before ultimately winning the contest by controversial decision.
A rematch was thought to be on the cards next but instead, Golovkin will get the fight he’s been waiting for.
Through two fights with Canelo Alvarez, many could argue that Golovkin should be 2-0 instead of 0-1-1. And while both have been competitive fights, that could change. With Canelo now in the prime of his life and Golovkin clearly on the back end of his, that seems like a recipe for disaster.
“This one maybe will hurt,” said former Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez. “Not because I’m not with him, but [this time it could] hurt because he gets hurt. [The trilogy is] not only the most significant, it’s the most dangerous because you’re talking about a guy who is at his peak now and believes he can do the same thing to Gennadiy that he did to Kovalev.”
“[Canelo] baited, baited, baited and waited for that right moment and it was destructive. I would hate to see Gennadiy go into that fight… or I would rather not see the fight than to see Gennadiy succumb to something like that, not being prepared physically and mentally.”