Bum’s Rush: Canelo-Chavez and an Audience of One

If I were a betting man, I would have lost last night. In fact, my wife and mother-in-law, actually in Vegas this weekend, did place bets, on my recommendation, and lost. See, I figured Canelo Alvarez would shut down Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. by Round Four, as he did two fights ago with James Kirkland. Or, barring that, he would brutalize Chavez such that Kenny Bayliss would stop the fight by Round Eight. But surprisingly, the fight went the distance. Instead of making short work of Chavez, Canelo made long work of him, for even though there were “thousands in attendance and millions watching at home,” quoth Michael Buffer, for Canelo there was but one person watching in the T-Mobile arena that night: Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin.

From Jim Lampley downward, last night’s fight has been called a glorified sparring match, but I think it was really a demonstration. And all apologies to Chavez for being thought of, and treated as, a prop in the Canelo-GGG cold war, but the more I look for signs, the more I find them: Canelo could have (and probably should have) put Chavez out of his misery. There were moments throughout the fight where Canelo gained momentum, but then backed off and allowed Chavez to regroup. This was his strategy, applying rhythm and pressure on his terms, and it went mostly unchallenged by young Chavez (though he is five years older than Canelo). What does this show to us? That Canelo can mount a campaign and see it through for twelve rounds. It shows us that Canelo can go for speed and he can go for distance, whereas GGG is thought of as a master of the former, but not the latter.

Chavez is a significantly larger fighter than Canelo, too, ostensibly outmatching him in height, weight and wingspan. Canelo moved up to 164 lbs. for this fight (while Chavez went down to meet the catchweight), but lost none of his energy and focus from the extra weight. He was also willing to take risks, getting himself deep into Chavez’s pocket in order to land his hardest blows. What does this teach us? That Canelo can train to his opponent, and is not afraid of getting hit. Who does this teach? GGG, there in the stands right in front of Dave Chappelle.

And so it was announced that Canelo-GGG is set for September 16. Like with Mayweather-Pacquiao, I’ll believe it when I see it (and even then, usually not until Round Three). This is the most anticipated match-up of the post-MayPac boxing world so far, one that promises fireworks and a hefty payday for all involved. Since the announcement came just minutes after the fight was over, it makes you wonder if anyone thought Chavez would win, including Chavez himself.

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