Mexican stars Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1 34 KOs) and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs) square off this Saturday night on May 6 on HBO pay-per-view at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. While a lot has been talked about there being a lot of pride and honor on the line for the two Mexican fighters, but more importantly than all that is the amount of pay-per-view buys the fight generates.
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This is a real test for boxing and for the drawing power of the 26-year-old Golden Boy Promotions star Canelo. He’s yet to prove that he’s the big PPV attraction that his promoter Oscar De La Hoya makes him out to be. De La Hoya says Canelo can carry boxing on his back for the next 10 years, and yet his last fight against Liam Smith generated only 300,000 PPV buys. Canelo-Chavez Jr. is also an odd choice because it’s arguably not a sell-able fight outside of the West coast and the Texas, New Mexico areas. Canelo-Chavez Jr. might not bring in the PPV numbers that Golden Boy Promotions is expecting it to do. There are a lot of fans who view this fight as just another money grab for Canbelo and Golden Boy where they pick a guy from the past and then fight him at a catch-weight.
If Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. fight can bring in 1 million buys on HBO, it would be the first time that Canelo was able to bring the 1 million buy mark with him as the A-side fighter. He fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013 in a fight that brought in 2.2 million buys, but Canelo was the B-side. In Canelo’s fight against Miguel Cotto in 2015, it reached 900,000 buys. Cotto was the A-side fighter in that match, and Canelo hitched along as the B-side guy and not the main name.
Most casual boxing fans don’t care about how many buys a fight registers. They just want to see a good fight. Chavez Jr. might be able to give the boxing fans want they want if he can fight at the level he did in the past five years ago in 2012. That’s a long time ago though. Chavez Jr. hasn’t taken his career seriously in the sport for ages. That’s probably why he was picked out by Golden Boy for Canelo, because they’ve been very strategic/careful in who they select for their redheaded star. They obviously don’t want him to get beaten again. Canelo hasn’t been able to become a big star though because of the match-making by Golden Boy in the view of this writer.
If Golden Boy had taken risks with Canelo, in the last 4 years, he would likely be a huge star by now. They would have had to put Canelo in with Gennady Golovkin 2 or 3 time, Daniel Jacobs, Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, Julian Williams and James DeGale. In other words, all the fighters that Golden Boy hasn’t been interested in matching against Canelo. We won’t know what would happen if Canelo did mix it up with all of those fighters. One thing is for sure, Canelo would be very popular if he beat all those guys. He’d be a lot more popular than he is now, and he’d likely already be a crossover star and not just someone that is popular with his build in fan base.
Chavez Jr. is already down to 169, and he’s looking thin, painfully thin. He’s taken the training very seriously in shedding a lot of weight to make the 164 ½ pound catch-weight for this fight. We’re going to see on Saturday night if he comes in weak and weigh drained. You can argue that the catch-weight it little more than a tool to weaken Chavez Jr. to make sure Canelo wins. It’s supposed to make the fight fairer, but It really isn’t needed because Canelo is already rehydrating into the 170s for his fights and some think he rehydrates to the 180s. Putting a catch-weigh of 164.5 lbs. isn’t needed for this fight, aside from weakening Chavez Jr. enough for Canelo to have a better chance at winning.
What can’t be a good sign for the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight is the fact that so many boxing fans see this fight as a mismatch in favor of Canelo. They don’t view the fight as having any real drama, because it’s pitting a fighter in his prime against another fighter who left his prime 5 years ago in Chavez Jr. For the fight to have drama, you have to view it as a near 50-50 fight. I don’t think that’s how the fans see the Caneli vs. Chavez Jr. fight. They think that Canelo will definitely win because he’s the faster and much more active guy. Chavez Jr. has never had much hand speed in his prime, but he’s slowed down in recent years and isn’t what he once was.
Canelo seems to be a good fighter to certain extent, but he’s not shown much in the way of improvement since his loss to Mayweather. Canelo is still the same fighter that needed to take rest breaks against the ropes, and who can’t handle a jab. Canelo has been lucky that he hasn’t had to face a disciplined fighter that jabbed and moved on him the way Mayweather did. Golden Boy has been putting Canelo in limited fighters since he was arguably beaten by Erislandy Lara in 2014. Since that fight, Canelo has fought Liam Smith, Amir Khan, James Kirkland, and Miguel Cotto. None of those guys are great fighters. Cotto was a good fighter during his career, but never a great one. Cotto was pounded by Austin Trout, Antonio Margarito, Mayweather and Antonio Margarito. He also was old when Canelo fought him and not the fighter he’d been earlier in his career.
Chavez Jr. can mess up Canelo’s career if he beats him on Saturday night. Golden Boy has floated the idea of Canelo fighting Gennady Golovkin in September; although a lot of boxing fans don’t believe that for a second. They think Golden Boy is just mentioning Golovkin’s name so that they can attract more interest and generate more PPV buys for the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight on May 6. But if Golden Boy are serious about wanting to make the Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. fight, then it’s going to be a real negative for the promotional company if he’s beaten by Chavez Jr. They might temporarily get more PPV buys in Canelo’s next fight against Chavez Jr. in a rematch, but I think it would still end up hurting Canelo’s popularity. Losing to Chavez Jr. would not be interpreted as favorable news for Canelo by boxing public. They would see Canelo as an overrated and protected fighter who was once again exposed.
Chavez Jr. will need to really take the fight to Canelo on Saturday for him to have a chance of winning the fight. The way to beat Canelo is to jab him and try and wear him down by pushing a fast pace, He can’t handle fighting at a fast pace because he has the right frame for him to be fighting fast place fights. Chavez Jr. is very good at pressuring his opponents and forcing them to fight hard for three minutes of each round. This is what Chavez Jr. used to be good at. I don’t know if he’s still good at pressuring.
It’s been a long time since Chavez Jr. fought someone good that he could test himself against. But if Chavez Jr. is able to take the fight to Canelo and make the redheaded star work hard for all 12 rounds, he could wear him down and possibly get a decision. It won’t be easy getting a decision against a popular fighter like Canelo because he’s got wins and even a draw on resume in fights that he appeared to lose. The judges didn’t give him a loss. I doubt that Chavez Jr. will have the judges give him the nod on Saturday over Canelo on Saturday unless he does something really special.
Saturday, May 6
Sky Arena PPV (NZ), 3:00 am ET, Joseph Parker vs Razvan Cojanu. It’s not exactly what Parker-Hughie Fury would’ve been, but it’s Parker’s first WBO title defense. So that’s worth noting. Cojanu really isn’t a contender at all and this shouldn’t be a serious challenge for Parker.
BT Sport 2 (UK), 4:00 pm ET, Bradley Skeete vs Shayne Singleton. Skeete’s British welterweight title is on the line here, facing a decent underdog domestic opponent in Singleton. It would be a real upset if Singleton pulls this off; the last time he was in at this level, really, was against Sam Eggington in 2015, and Eggington battered him over five rounds.
HBO PPV, 9:00 pm ET, Canelo Alvarez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. THE FIGHT FOR MEXICO’S VERY SOUL, or so the promotion would lead you to believe. Big questions are Chavez making weight, Chavez’s conditioning, and if he is in good shape and makes weight, his size advantage over Canelo once the bell rings. There is some risk here for Alvarez if Chavez is at his best. The undercard features David Lemieux vs Marcos Reyes, Lucas Matthysse vs Emmanuel Taylor, and Joseph Diaz Jr vs Tino Avila. BLH will have live coverage.