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Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. possible for early 2017

Image: Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. possible for early 2017

By Dan Ambrose: A fight between Mexican stars Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) and former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs) in reportedly in negotiations for a big mega-fight between them in either February or May 2017, according to ESPN Deportes. The negotiations between Canelo’s promoters at Golden Boy and Chavez Jr’s promoters are for a fight at a catchweight fight at 164 or 165lbs.

Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. is a fight that should have been made four years ago when Chavez Jr. was still the WBC 160lb champion and popular with a portion of the U.S boxing population. It’s a fight that might not bring in the same kind of interest now due to Chavez Jr’s career having gone downhill since his loss to Sergio Martinez. H

There’s still a segment of the U.S fans that would like to see Canelo and Chavez Jr. fight each other despite Chavez Jr. looking like a shadow of his former self. If they stick the fight on HBO PPV in May 2017, it might do well, even though the fight would be a mismatch at this point. Chavez Jr. has not remained active enough to stay sharp in the last four years, and he looks very slow now in terms of hand speed and ring movement.

Canelo has been fighting at a catchweight of 155 pounds regularly since 2014. He won the WBC middleweight title against Miguel Cotto in 2015 at a catchweight of 155. In Canelo’s first and only defense of his WBC belt, he defended it against welterweight Amir Khan at a catchweight of 155lbs. Canelo was then supposed to defend his title against mandatory challenger Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, but Canelo then vacated the belt and moved down to 154 to challenge WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith for his belt last September.

The weight reportedly isn’t the main issue. It’s the split of the money. Canelo will likely be looking to take the larger chunk of the revenue for the fight. The Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight could wind up either in Texas or Las Vegas, Nevada. Canelo recently fought in front of 51,000 fans for his match against WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith on September 17 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Smith wasn’t a well-known fighter in the U.S, and yet the fight still brought in 51K fans. With that kind of crowd showing up for a fight involving Canelo facing a little known fighter, you can imagine what kind of crowd a Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight could bring in. It might even sellout the 90,000 seat stadium.

Chavez Jr. just returned from a 1 ½ year layoff to defeat super middleweight Dominik Britsch (32-3-1, 11 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision last Saturday night at the Arena Monterrey in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Chavez Jr. won the fight by the scores 99-91, 99-91, and 99-91. Chavez Jr. didn’t look all that great, but he at least didn’t quit on his stool again like he did last year in his 9th round stoppage loss to light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara.

The 30-year-old Chavez Jr. immediately called out middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Canelo after his win over British. Chavez Jr. said, “We’re ready for Gennady Golovkin and we’re ready for Canelo Álvarez. Let’s sit down to define the future. “
A fight between Chavez Jr. and Canelo would invite a lot of criticism from the boxing fans towards Canelo, because it’s another perceived mismatch for Canelo. Instead of him fighting the high caliber guys at 154 and 160 like Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, Gennady Golovkin or Daniel Jacobs, he’s fought welterweight Amir Khan and Liam Smith. Khan wasn’t even seen as being the best or even close to the best at 147. Khan bas been a part time fighter in the last two years of his boxing career, and he’d been knocked out in the past by Briedis Prescott and Danny Garcia and beaten by Lamont Peterson.

Canelo could make a lot of money fighting Chavez Jr., but the fight would be something of a joke in the eyes of a lot of boxing fans. Chavez Jr. is similar to one of Canelo’s recent opponents James Kirkland in terms of what he has left in the tank. Chavez Jr. was always a fighter with major flaws in his game, but he hasn’t helped himself since his one-sided 12 round decision loss to Sergio Martinez in 2012 by being inactive much of the time. Since that loss, Chavez Jr. has fought only five times in four years. Chavez Jr. fought just once in 2013, 2014 and 2016. He fought twice in 2015. The opposition that Chavez Jr. has fought since his loss to Martinez has been woeful. Chavez Jr. twice fought journeyman Brian Vera, Fonfara, Marcos Reyes and Britsch. Fonfara is good contender at 175, but Chavez Jr. lost to him BADLY. That was the fight in which Chavez Jr. was dropped in the 9th round and then he quit on his stool in between the 9th and 10th rounds.

It might prove difficult for Chavez Jr. to get down to 164 of 165 to fight Canelo at a catchweight. Chavez Jr. hasn’t been that low since his fight against Sergio Martinez in 2012. In Chavez Jr’s last fight, he made 168 at least for his match against British. Chavez Jr. might not be able to make 164. As long as the fight didn’t depend on Chavez Jr. absolutely needing to make weight, I think it would be a doable fight. Chavez Jr. might end up weight-drained if the fight takes place at a catchweight of 164 or 165, but that probably doesn’t matter. Chavez Jr. is going to have major problems trying to win no matter what weight the fight takes place at. He doesn’t have the speed, stamina or the sharpness to beat Canelo at this point in his career.

The fans will likely see the Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. fight as just another mismatch involving Canelo. That’s the bad part. Canelo isn’t facing serious guys that have the potential to beat him any longer, and his dropping PPV numbers reflect that. After Canelo’s close call win over Erislandy Lara in 2014, in which he appeared to lose in the eyes of a lot of boxing fans, Canelo has faced weaker or older opposition since then in beating 36-year-old Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland, Amir Khan and Liam Smith. Those were not great opponents. Cotto, 5’7”, was just too small and old to do much against the heavier looking Canelo, who looked to be considerably bigger than him. Canelo should have been taking Golovkin, the Charlo brothers, Demetrius Andrade and Daniel Jacobs in the last two years instead of the guys he’s been facing.

If the Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. fight comes off, it’s going to look like little more than a money grab by Canelo and Golden Boy Promotions in the eyes of the boxing fans. It’ll be like another Canelo vs. Khan or Kirkland type of a mismatch. Chavez Jr. had his time in the sun as a champion at 160 when he was able to melt down in weight and enjoy a weight advantage over his smaller opposition, but that time appears to be over. Chavez Jr. looks slower now, he can’t make 160 any longer, and he fights on a rare basis. Chavez Jr. hasn’t beaten a good fighter in years since his win over Andy Lee in 2012.

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