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“Canelo Alvarez is clearly on the decline, and would lose to Bivol and Benavidez,” insists expert trainer

Image: "Canelo Alvarez is clearly on the decline, and would lose to Bivol and Benavidez," insists expert trainer

By Joseph Herron: After successfully defending his undisputed super middleweight crown against super durable John Ryder in front of 60,000 hometown fans in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, one would think that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez would be the toast of the boxing world once again.

Especially considering the troublesome year the 32-year-old puncher experienced in 2022.

Following a convincing loss to WBA Light Heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol, and a lackluster points win over longtime nemesis Gennady Golovkin, immediately accompanied by necessary and painful hand and wrist surgery, the May 6th homecoming victory should be exactly what the doctor ordered for the future Hall of Famer.

But rather than celebrating the Mexican legend’s latest conquest, most critics and ringside observers are pointing out the apparent erosion of Canelo’s once acute reflexes and skills.

And while most fans debate the exact degree of Alvarez’s ostensive decline, most are in agreement that it’s painfully apparent; Canelo is entering what should prove to be the final chapter of his legendary career.

On the latest edition of Sunday night’s “War a Week Radio” podcast, five-decade fight trainer James Gogue made a mental checklist of things to look for in an aging warrior.

“Canelo seemingly hit his peak around 2020 or 2021,” claims the expert trainer. “From what I’ve seen, he hasn’t fought at the same level since winning the undisputed super middleweight distinction. You can see an obvious descent from his fighting prime.”

But how can one be sure that the proud 32-year-old puncher isn’t fighting at the apex of his abilities? Could it be that Canelo is just fighting more difficult competition?

The astute coach devised a mental checklist of items for every interested fan to observe.

“Number one, he got hit a lot throughout the John Ryder fight. He wasn’t slipping punches like he usually does. When you see a customarily good defensive fighter start to get hit a lot more frequently, especially against slower opposition, that means his reflexes are starting to slow down and erode.”

“He’s not seeing the punches as clearly as he used to, and he isn’t able to react as quickly as he’s grown accustomed. Does anyone really think he wanted to get hit that often by John Ryder on Saturday night?”

“In his prime, Canelo had elite head and upper body movement with superb reflexes. He would easily see punches coming from his opponents and subtly move just enough to make them miss.”

“That’s sign number one; he’s getting hit more easily and frequently.”

“Sign number two is he can’t pull the trigger like he used to.”

“He’s not as quick to the draw as he once was, and his punches aren’t as sharp or as crisp. I saw that he missed a lot of opportunities to hit his target accurately. Against an opponent as stationary as Ryder, he wasn’t nearly as accurate as he once was.”

“Number three, when a fighter starts noticeably slipping, the body doesn’t recover as quickly. Fights get seemingly tougher against opponents you once had an easy time with, and injuries start to become more frequent and seem to last longer.”

“And after 18 years as a professional, Alvarez has accumulated a lot of miles on his odometer.”

“Number four, After making hundreds of millions of dollars throughout his entire career, one has to question if he’s still as motivated at this stage. At his most recent press conference, he was talking about becoming a golf pro and seems to be more interested in joining the PGA tour.”

“The last item on our punch list, and most important in determining whether or not a once great fighter is long past his prime is his ability to take a good punch. When a once great physically and mentally durable fighter’s chin turns to glass, that’s it…he’s done and should retire.”

“In the weeks leading up to and during Canelo’s fight with John Ryder, I checked off four of the five items every interested observer should look for when determining whether or not a fighter is on the decline. His chin is still durable, and his legs are still underneath him, so he’s not shot just yet.”

“But I think it’s safe to say that Canelo Alvarez’s best days are definitely behind him.”

“At this juncture of his career, I would clearly pick Bivol and Benavidez to beat him.”

It’s important to keep in mind that all opinions regarding a fighter’s decline are subjective, and ultimately it’s up to the individual fighter to decide when it’s time to retire. However, James Gogue raises some valid points to consider when assessing the potential decline of a fighter’s skills and abilities.

Some key indicators to look for include a fighter’s defensive skills, accuracy and power in their punches, ability to recover from injuries, motivation, and durability. It’s important to note that a decline in any one of these areas does not necessarily mean a fighter is finished, but a noticeable decline in multiple areas may be cause for concern.

In the case of Canelo Alvarez, Gogue points out that his defensive skills may be slipping, as evidenced by his increased tendency to get hit during his recent fight against John Ryder. Additionally, his accuracy and power may not be as sharp as they once were, and his motivation could be waning given his recent comments about pursuing a career in golf.

Overall, it’s important to approach these assessments with a degree of caution and acknowledge that even the best fighters can have off nights or go through rough patches in their careers. However, it’s also important to recognize when a fighter may be approaching the end of their career and to support them in making the best decision for their health and well-being.

Do you agree with Coach James Gogue? Would Canelo Alvarez lose in head-to-head match-ups with Dmitry Bivol and David Benavidez in 2023?

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