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De La Hoya: Boxing needs the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight

Canelo Alvarez Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Oscar De La Hoya

By Dan Ambrose: Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya believes that the sport of boxing needs the May 6 fight between Mexican star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1, 32 KOs) and former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs). The two of them are going to be fighting on HBO pay-per-view in either Las Vegas, Nevada or Texas.

For many Mexican boxing fans of the two fighters Canelo and Chavez Jr., it’s considered a big fight that will bring in a lot of money on PPV and at the gate. De Hoya feels that the fight will help the sport. He may be right about that, even though the fight is considered a non-competitive match on paper, and not the fight that the hardcore boxing fans want to see in the U.S.

The fans in the U.S have been waiting for two years for Golden Boy Promotions to match Canelo against middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin. Instead of getting that fight, the fans are getting Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. You can understand why the fans aren’t happy about it. Chavez Jr. had his 15 minutes of fame five years ago in his match against Sergio Martinez in 2012, but his career has imploded since losing to him.

De La Hoya said this to ESPN Deportes about how Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. is a great fight for boxing:

“This fight is going for Mexico, for Mexican boxing…obviously having Mexican roots to me personally, I am very proud that that this fight can be done because it is a very important fight for Mexican boxing,” said De La Hoya.

The Mexican boxing fans seem to be very happy with the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight. They don’t appear to mind that Canelo isn’t fighting someone at the top of the sport like Golovkin. They just want to see Canelo and Chavez Jr. face each other. Some boxing fans are hoping that Chavez Jr. can put Canelo in his place by knocking him out, while other fans want to see the opposite.

There isn’t another big name at middleweight or super middleweight in Mexico for Canelo to fight right now other than Chavez Jr. WBO 168lb champion Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez still doesn’t have a huge fan base yet. He could turn into a star in the future, but right now he hasn’t done enough for him to be a viable opponent for Canelo to fight. Chavez Jr. has the advantage that he’s the son of a Mexican boxing legend in Julio Cesar Chavez.

It’s less important for Chavez Jr. to show that he deserves a big money fight against Canelo by achievement, because he’s got his father’s name going for him. If Chavez Jr. had to earn his way into getting a fight against Canelo, he probably would never be able to get that fight. Chavez Jr. doesn’t have any advantages at 168 over his opposition that he had when he was melting down to fight at 160.

Chavez Jr. had size going for him when he was fighting at middleweight, because he was dehydrating down in weight to fight guys that were smaller than him. When Chavez Jr. would rehydrate, he would be huge inside the ring. After he could no longer make the 160lb limit, he wasn’t the same fighter at 168.

“It is one of the most important fights in recent years,” said De La Hoya about the Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. fight. “Currently boxing in general needs this fight, and for this reason, we did it and we thank Chavez, Canelo, and all who made this possible. Breaking records, we did this to give respect to the Mexican public, the Mexican fans,” said De La Hoya.

I think the fans of the sport would vehemently disagree with De La Hoya about his opinion that “boxing in general needs” the Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. fight. I don’t think the sport needs mismatches, and the Canelo-Chavez Jr. match has mismatch written all over it. The sport needs competitive matches involving fighters with equal boxing skills and talent. That criteria is missing in the Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. fight. Chavez Jr. is arguably getting the fight with Canelo based off his father’s name, and on things that he did many years ago. Chavez Jr. hasn’t had a true quality win since he beat Andy Lee in June 2012. That’s 5 years ago.

It’s 2017 now. Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. would have been great for boxing in 2012, but in 2017, the fight looks very odd and out of place, given the current climate. Chavez Jr. is no longer a name in the middleweight division, and he’s not a factor at 168 either.

Chavez Jr. is a name from the past just like James Kirkland was when Canelo fought him in 2015. Kirkland’s career for all intents and purposes stopped in 2009. By the time Canelo fought Kirkland in 2015, he was facing a guy that hadn’t done anything for 6 years. Kirkland was no longer a relevant fighter when Canelo fought him. Now, we’re seeing the same thing with Canelo facing Chavez Jr., a fighter from the past. Is this good for boxing that Canelo is facing Chavez Jr. instead of Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Jermall Charlo or Billy Joe Saunders? I don’t think you can say it is. I think it’s another situation where Golden Boy picks a guy that used to be a name years ago and puts him in with Canelo. Who’s next after Chavez Jr? Does Golden Boy find another fighter from the past to face Canelo? Hopefully, that’s not what we’re going to keep seeing with Canelo and Golden Boy, because he needs to be fighting relevant fighters from this era rather than guys that stopped producing five to six years ago like Chavez Jr. and Kirkland.

Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. will probably do well on HBO PPV. Those two fighters have enough loyal boxing fans that will purchase the fight in large numbers to make it a success. I don’t think that’s going to be a good thing for the sport. I see that as potentially empowering for Golden Boy, Canelo and for other fighters that are looking to get easy paydays against non-relevant fighters. Instead of fighters like Canelo and Miguel Cotto fighting the top names from this day and age, you get them fighting Kirkland and Chavez Jr. Look at who Cotto is fighting next on February 25. He’s facing Kirkland. In the latest news, Cotto and 43-year-old Juan Manuel Marquez are talking about fighting each other possibly after the Cotto-Kirkland fight. Marquez was a good fighter during his time, but he hasn’t fought since 2014. It’s been 3 years since Marquez last fought. Why is Cotto interested in fighting Marquez, an inactive fighter, rather than one of the relevant fighters from today like Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, Julian Williams, or Erislandy Lara? The bigger question is how does the sport get built for the future when you have fighters like Canelo facing inactive fighters from the past like Kirkland and Chavez Jr? Those guys don’t appear to be going anywhere with their boxing careers. They look like they’re playing out their string, and heading towards retirement in a few years or less. Wouldn’t it be better for the sport if Canelo and Cotto were facing the young fighters at the top of the sport now rather than aging guys like Chavez Jr. and Kirkland?

How do you build for the future when you have guys like Canelo facing Chavez Jr. and Kirkland? I don’t agree with De La Hoya that the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight is helping boxing. I think that fight hurts it more than anything. It’s just a short-term fix for easy money for Canelo. It brings in fans for the short term, but only one fighter gets more popular from that fight, and that’s Canelo. He becomes more popular by using Chavez Jr. as a stepping stone. It’s not a real fight though, because Chavez Jr. is not a relevant fighter. He’s a guy that WAS relevant five years ago, but not now. Chavez Jr. is not a champion at 168 and he’s not going to be a champion unless he can pick up one of the trinket titles fighting one of the journeyman level guys he’s been facing.

De La Hoya says he wants to stage the Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, but he’s going to wait until he hears back from Jerry Jones, the owner of the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. If De La Hoya gets a good offer from Jones, then he could move the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight to that venue. The fight will end up wherever the most money can be made. It would probably make more sense to have the fight staged in Texas rather than Las Vegas though.

“For me with the MGM Grand, there is more history,” said De La Hoya about possible venues for the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight. “Mike Tyson fought there, JC Chavez opened the arena. I fought there, so MGM could be the perfect arena for this fight, but it depends on what Jerry Jones says.”

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