In His Own Words


Oscar De La Hoya has officially announced his return to competition for July 3rd. Promoters describe the return as targeting a “big name” in the UFC and they say that Oscar, in his own words, is “stronger and better than ever.” I’m sure he does make that claim. Don’t all fighters who get back in the gym say that at some point? While strength might be a subjective or more mutable term, Oscar De La Hoya is most assuredly not better than ever. I was completely unaware that he was planning on fighting someone with little to no experience as a professional boxer, but that makes even more sense when you think about it. He’s following in the trendy footsteps of fresher fighters, like Mayweather, and superior athletes, like Bernard Hopkins or Mike Tyson, hoping to merge the two pathways into some kind of marketable cross-promotion that would ostensibly paint De La Hoya as an aging legend, when he might otherwise reach his denouement simply as a once-great. He probably sees the wisdom in Mayweather’s selection of an MMA opponent, in whom the UFC had invested a huge amount of confidence and promotional hype, but who would be relatively inexperienced as a boxer. Maybe if he wins, Oscar will move on to YouTube stars for his next bout. Then again, it would make more sense to adopt that strategy in the event of a loss. Not that rational thought has a lot to do with any of it.

Andy “Flash-in-the-Pan” Ruiz is back in action on May 1st against fellow endomorph Chris Arreola. The once-formidable fatty challenged for the heavyweight title on multiple occasions but always fell just short of glory, whereas it was always a mystery how Andy Ruiz Jr. got his shot at a complacent Anthony Joshua, and even more of a mystery how he won the first fight. That being said, the man who has been called “The Nightmare,” is likely to encounter some surreal and unpleasant experiences of his own in this match. Arreola has been something approaching washed-up since his campaign to become a more traditional heavyweight in terms of his physique–rather than rolling and sloshing back and forth across the ring with his tidal waves of corpulence–back around 2011, when Sports Illustrated reported on his “dramatic weight loss.” That year, Arreola got in the ring 5 times (and basically won all his fights) in an unusual streak of activity for a seasoned pro. Unfortunately, the changes in physique and activity did not equate to better performance, as Arreola has only won 5 of his 12 fights since the beginning of 2012. This weight loss was Arreola’s response to losing his position as a challenger for the top heavyweights in the sport, but if anything, the change seemed to detract from the stylistic and strategic elements that had made him such a formidable fighter to begin with, while his overall stamina seemed the same. 10 years later, I’m not going to be naive about his chances. Just like this past weekend, when Alexander Povetkin came in looking flabby and deflated, Arreola looks worse than he has in the past and he’s older than he was when he was losing against the top heavies, so it’s just not realistic to expect him to pull a David Price and reignite his bid for a belt. Some guys are inconsistent, and while Ruiz is almost as inconsistent as Povetkin or Arreola, he’s younger by about a decade. As with Whyte’s domination over Povetkin, look for Arreola to receive another push towards retirement in this fight.

On the other side of the spectrum, in terms of consistency, is Saul Alvarez, who takes on Billy Joe Saunders on May 8th. Saunders is a solid fighter, but has never shown any flashes of greatness, so it’s an easy prediction to make. Alvarez will get a chance to showcase his talent once again, this time against a worthy opponent. Tune in and watch him tune up on DAZN, May 8th.

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The Mayweather Masquerade


For years now since his retirement, Floyd Mayweather has made money not only as a promoter, but as a headline-maker in his social media posts and general commentary on the sport. He’s put on fights against seemingly random opponents who were able to draw crowds and promotions big enough to suit his financial appetite, the best of which was his dominant performance against UFC star Connor McGregor, who had never been in a boxing match. Now, he’s set to face a YouTube star whose professional record is 0-1, having fought only once against another inexperienced social media trendsetter. As absurd as that sounds, it’s not as bad as the most recent suggestion, this time coming from the fighter who would like to face Mayweather.

It’s nobody any real boxing fan would expect or want to see, but it’s an opponent Mayweather has faced before, in 2007, when he managed a decision over one of the previous decade’s biggest stars, Oscar De La Hoya. That fight was the first pay-per-view I ever watched, having only recently gotten into boxing enough to consider paying $60 for a televised fight. At the time, knowing Mayweather’s reputation and seeing De La Hoya’s impressive speed and ability to take his opponent’s punches, I thought the decision was a robbery. Going back and watching the fight again with more experience and a better understanding of the sport, I don’t know how anybody made that fight controversial. It was a one-sided, classic Mayweather fight. He threw fast, unimpressive combinations and moved around the ring more than his opponent, but was never hit cleanly and landed plenty of his own solid, if ineffective, shots.

14 years later, Oscar is 48 years old and has settled into his promotional physique, often looking bloated and gin-blossomed during his press conferences. He hasn’t had any competition since, and admits to only recently getting back in the gym to spar. If there were to be a rematch, it would be the greatest travesty Mayweather has yet perpetrated on the sport, but luckily for fans, there probably isn’t enough money or risk to draw the all-time great welterweight. It should be acknowledged that Oscar is probably the least competitive of all the semi-active former Mayweather opponents, save possibly for Ricky Hatton, who seems to have no plans to get back in the ring again. Now and for the record, there’s no age at which Mayweather loses to Oscar, unless he’s badly injured or ill, because he’ll never stop training. There’s no way the fight would even be competitive, in any universe. The YouTube fight will be another embarrassment to the sport that will further marginalize it while making UFC and MMA appear more legitimate, but hopefully, it’ll be the lowest point for this once-truly-great pugilist. Now that Pacquiao is back at it and winning titles, why has there been no talk of the greatest, most lucrative possible rematch being made? Probably because for Mayweather it’s always been and now, more than ever, is a balance of risk and reward, reputation and reality, mask and masquerade.

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Son of the Hitman, Povetkin-Whyte II


Ricky Hatton’s son, Campbell Hatton will make his debut this Saturday on the undercard of Povetkin’s rematch with Dillian Whyte. Though the opponent has yet to be announced, the name of man opposite Hatton will be less significant, in any case. Years after Ricky Hatton’s disheartening attempt to return to boxing, his son will be a well-supported and highly anticipated fighter. Though a little shorter, Campbell resembles his father very closely in his appearance and physique. Fans of the former welterweight titlist will enjoy seeing him in the ring and comparing styles as he (hopefully) works his way through the ranks. Long term, we’ll all be hoping to see him make it to the pinnacle of the sport and get a shot at redemption, to wipe the slate from his father’s two devastating losses to Pacquiao and Mayweather, who were probably the best welterweights of the past 25 years.

Dillian Whyte has an interesting challenge of his own in his second attempt at Alexander Povetkin. Odds favor Whyte in the rematch, as well as a knockout, because he managed two knockdowns in the first fight before being dropped himself by a perfect uppercut in August of 2020 for the knockout of the year. Both men are primarily stationary targets who like to use their power, and while Povetkin’s technique is inarguably superior (the uppercut being a good example), Whyte is the naturally larger fighter. In last year’s fight, Povetkin was careless with his defense–even more than usual–and Whyte took advantage. If Povetkin isn’t both more careful and more aggressive in this fight, then he may be knocked out early. That being said, if Whyte hasn’t focused on his accuracy and movement, the result may closely resemble the one we saw in 2020. Regardless of each fighter’s performance (and even if they break the mold and focus on defense), the rematch will undoubtedly prove to be one of the better heavyweight contests of the year, worth the ticket price for DAZN. Unfortunately for the winner, the result of their victory will theoretically be a title shot against Tyson Fury, in which neither fighter would be competitive.

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Upcoming and Foregone Conclusions


As expected, Saul Alvarez and Claressa Shields dominated their competition in matches against Yildirim and Decaire, respectively. While Shields’ fight did go the distance, it was a lopsided decision that made the pay-per-view price tag less justifiable.

On the bright side, we’ve got Artur Beterbiev and Adam Deines finally getting in the ring March 20th, then just a couple months away is the highly anticipated showdown between Canelo and Billy Joe Saunders. I expect both fights to be well worth watching, especially with Beterbiev on ESPN, but Saunders may surprise people and give Alvarez a challenge. He’s a well-rounded fighter whose stamina or technique sometimes flag at times during his fights. In recent bouts, though, he’s tended to be more consistent. After Saunders, Alvarez is expected to take yet another fight in 2021 to unify the titles against Caleb Plant. I give Plant and Saunders equal chances to make exciting fights, but don’t see any big upsets coming against the fighter who now defines the post-Mayweather era. Tyson Fury insists that he’ll be fighting twice this year, so we should hear announcements about those soon as well. Update: on the Deniz Ilbay-Lewis Crocker broadcast, analysts spoke with Tyson Fury about his upcoming fights. He looks absolutely transformed, clearly in better shape than he’s ever been, making his claims that the next match with Deontay Wilder will be a lopsided knockout even more convincing.

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10-Round Epic a Treat for Fans


The junior lightweight title bout this past weekend was hailed as a guaranteed thriller. Oscar Valdez and Miguel Berchelt did not disappoint, both coming out strong with measured offenses in the early rounds. Berchelt’s increasingly intimidating physique was even more pronounced than in his previous fights, reported as rehydrating a full 16 pounds after the 130-lb weigh-in, with plans to move up to lightweight in the near future. Valdez was, like his opponent, undefeated, but looked more like the size fighter you expect to see in that class.

Valdez took three rounds to gauge Berchelt’s reach and accuracy before beginning to target well-timed counter shots. There were two exchanges in the fourth round that rattled Berchelt when Valdez chose to stand and swing, the second resulting in a seismic collision from which Berchelt never fully recovered. The fight continued on for another six rounds, with Valdez being forced to back off and measure his aggression at times, but by the time the fight was stopped, Berchelt had been staggering around the ring, holding himself up with the ropes on multiple exchanges. Only the reputation of the fighters and the importance of the title contest gave the referee an excuse for continuing the assault. The final knockout punch rendered Berchelt unconscious long before his body fully hit the ground, luckily folding in front of him in stages which served to cushion the impact on his head. He remained motionless for the longest period of time I’ve seen since fights like Marquez-Pacquiao IV and Pacquiao-Hatton.

The way Berchelt looks–like an intensely muscular super middleweight–I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a positive result on a drug test at some point in the near future. That said, the way Valdez fought–like he had enough energy to put every punch and step where they needed to be for every minute of every round–I could say the same of him. Whether they do pop for PEDs or not, the result was a real treat for real boxing fans, who tuned in based on the hype this fight has received as well as the exposure Berchelt has gotten in recent months.

Highly anticipated upcoming fights include Saul Alvarez taking a mandatory fight against someone whose name I’ve never heard, Claressa Shields taking on Marie-Eve Dicaire, whose impressive record gives no indication of her lacking conditioning and dearth of stoppage wins. In mid-March, Juan Estrada takes on Chocolatito, but I can’t imagine why you’d pay to see any of those fights. Joseph Parker will be fighting on the same night as Canelo, also on DAZN, if that helps at all. The one I’m waiting for is March 20th, Beterbiev-Deines. Comment if you have thoughts.

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Nakatani-Verdejo


In what was billed as the co-feature to the main event in last night’s ESPN broadcast, two fighters put on the performances of their lives and produced a candidate for fight of the year, maybe of all time. Felix Verdejo looked to be making a comeback after his career was derailed by a motorcycle accident, and his impressive technique and athleticism had proven him well since. He started the fight with an early knockdown that looked like it surprised Masayoshi Nakatani more than hurt him. When he got up and composed himself for the referee, he had the demeanor of a chastened child who’d made a careless mistake, rather than a skilled 6-foot junior welterweight. In those early rounds, Nakatani’s punches were robotic, and his posture was stiff, but he maintained a steady output, with increasing accuracy and power. It was only three rounds later that Nakatani took another full-power shot flush on the jaw and went down again. This time there may have been a look of frustration mixed with the confusion, but no less composure, as he prepared for the next phase of battle.

The momentum started to turn even as the incredibly athletic Verdejo moved and punched effectively against his longer, taller opponent. In round 7, Verdejo was visibly hurt for the first time, and rather than get flustered or desperate, Nakatani took a measured approach to capitalizing on that advantage. It was round 8 when Nakatani hurt Verdejo again, momentarily giving the crowd the impression that the tide had turned. Within two seconds, Verdejo had fired back a good enough counter shot that Nakatani’s legs started to give out. From there on it was a back-and-forth contest of will, straight out of a Rocky Balboa sequel. If you haven’t seen this fight, find it. The Shakur Stevenson main event showcased the star’s talent but was nowhere near as exciting nor as impressive as Nakatani’s classic battle with Verdejo. If they get in the ring again any time soon, I’ll pay whatever PPV costs by then.

In the first relevant DAZN broadcast in several months, the card showcased heavyweights including Mariusch Wach, who lost a lopsided decision to Huey Fury, and Martin Bakole, who is on a mission to regain his title challenger status after a lone loss to Michael Hunter. He beat Sergey Kuzmin way past when the fight should have been stopped, but that wasn’t because he was so skilled or powerful. I don’t see a bright future for Bakole. The main event, however, was far from disappointing.

The long-awaited return of Anthony Joshua after he avenged his only career loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. last year has loomed large in the heavyweight landscape ever since that win. Would he return to form or would he be gunshy, damaged goods? He answered the question emphatically against an admittedly subpar opponent in Kubrat Pulev (who is at least very large) with a series of beautifully formed knockdowns, using many different approaches and types of punches. Joshua couldn’t quite resist the temptation to hang on the back of the neck with his left hand a few times, and at least once the right hand did come up with that leverage, but I don’t think that was an example of an intentional use. If anything, it looks like he actually has been training himself off of that technique, but he couldn’t help himself in using his size, skill and athleticism to intimidate Pulev whenever the opportunity arose. The referee was actually somewhat of an impediment to the action, scolding Joshua for responding to Pulev’s primitive attempts at rough tactics. There was even a brief exchange after the bell at one point, that led to no real consequence.

This is not only a defining fight for Joshua (who looked better than he ever has both offensively and defensively) but for the division, as one of the greatest triads in heavyweight history begins to solidify. Both Wilder and Joshua have now experienced knockout losses to dominant opponents, the undefeated Gypsy King waiting in the wings looking like a force of nature of which we may not yet have seen the full destructive power. He, of course, being the least likely in every rational person’s mind to rise to the top when the division began to transition from the Klitschko era several years ago. My expectations and rankings have been upended entirely, with Wilder now looking the most vulnerable, and Tyson Fury the least.

A couple of changes and updates to the Fighters to Follow page: in addition to Nakatani and Verdejo having escaped my radar until now, the much lauded Edgar Berlanga finally convinced me last night that he’s something special. It’s no secret that he’s unconcerned with defense and head movement, but if he can refine his technique while maintaining his fluidity and power, I can’t think of many super middleweights who could even compete. Lopez, as I foreshadowed in a previous post, has been removed. He’s now required viewing.

Speaking of all the dominant Brits and our lone Deontay Wilder, has anybody else noticed their ring entrance music and the songs their fans sing are all American: Neil Diamond, White Stripes, Rocky IV Soundtrack?

A brief mention last night of the debut of Ricky Hatton’s son. Something to watch for, can’t imagine the apple fell far from the Hitman.

Showtime had a card on last night with no relevant contests. They put the greatest broadcasters (HBO) out of business somehow and now they’re not even as much of a draw as free ESPN fights. We miss you, Jim Lampley.

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Lomachenko Makes Me Miss Mayweather


I’ve had Teofimo Lopez on my Fighters to Follow page for years now. I wrote there that he had incredible athleticism and power, which are the most obvious strengths in his arsenal, but I recognized even then that he used that to his advantage in achieving great boxing technique. Even fighting the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Lopez kept his hands low. Aside from that, his performance last night was an incredible balance of power and grace, rage and refinement.

Vasyl Lomachenko has long been praised for his technical ability and his unmatched experience (396 wins in the amateurs). Sitting atop the pound-for-pound rankings for years, his career was made up almost entirely of championship fights. To the discerning viewer, however, there have been visible vulnerabilities in his game since the May 2018 fight against Jorge Linares. Though he won the fight by TKO and went on to take three more impressive victories, I knew it was a matter of time before a skilled, powerful puncher came along to dethrone him. In Lopez, I was fairly confident we had found that fighter. It’s so unusual for two fighters at their peak, elite or otherwise, to be allowed to fight despite promotional red tape and then to actually sign the contract. This made it an even more pleasant surprise to have the fight broadcast on ESPN.

Lomachenko, more than most fighters, relies on his unmatched stamina to outperform his opponents, who are frequently larger and more powerful punchers than he is. Naturally, he meters his offense for a longer fight. He showed this impressive ability again last night in his showdown with Lopez. Similarly, Lopez demonstrated his inexperience with 12 round fights (12 of his 15 wins had come by knockout previous to this fight). Lopez clearly won every one of the first six rounds, give or take a round. That was to be expected, however, from a technical fighter like Lomachenko, known for “figuring out” his opponents in the ring. A former dancer, Lomachenko’s masterful footwork had yet to provide any offensive openings, mostly because Lopez was showing talented feet of his own, circling with the other fighter to disrupt his rhythm. This, of course, was costly to Lopez in terms of energy.

Prior to Lomachenko’s reign, the boxer best known for his ring savvy was the undefeated and seemingly unstoppable Floyd Mayweather Jr. As a fan, you could count on him losing the first 2-5 rounds, then absolutely taking over the fight and dominating the following 7-10. It was truly a thing to behold. You could see him figuring out the opponent’s defense, adjusting and then, with increasing frequency, poking through it with harder and harder shots. I didn’t appreciate his style until his fight against Shane Mosley, in which he was forced to adjust earlier in the fight and begin taking offensive action in rounds 2 and 3. That night he proved he was capable of working out both defense and offense better than anybody else in the sport.

Last night, the fight didn’t really break out until round 7. By that time, Lopez had already complained once or twice of Lomachenko coming forward with his head and causing headbutts during exchanges. That, along with Lomachenko’s dramatically increased offensive output, pushed Lopez back and revealed how tired Lomachenko’s movement was making him. Contrary to the judges’ delusions, Lopez lost rounds 8-11 on my scorecard, as Lomachenko consistently pushed forward, using his signature style of circling and throwing combinations to expose his opponent.

The broadcasting team (Tim Bradley, Andre Ward and Joe Tessitore) had the fight about even going into the final round and both men were ready for war. Lomachenko had taken advantage of his opponent’s decreased output and power to put on a clinic in the previous rounds, keeping in mind that he needed to avoid key punches. He did so very successfully through most of round 11, but Lopez had begun to awaken. In the final round, Lopez came back out looking frustrated and began absorbing fast combinations from Lomachenko again. About 30 seconds in, Lopez shakes off the cobwebs and finally puts his footwork back together with his offense. Lomachenko was caught completely off guard and suddenly, his combinations were nowhere to be seen. Lopez put on a herculean display in the final minute and a half, absorbing and then neutralizing Lomachenko’s best combinations with his own offense.

Just before the end of the fight, as Lopez dug into his deepest energy reserves, Lomachenko’s rough tactics from the middle rounds came back to haunt him. A minor but significant cut opened up on Lopez’s forehead with about 19 seconds to go. The referee paused the fight at around the 13-second mark to point this out to the judges as a matter of course. This gave Lopez just the boost he needed to finish the final round with a flurry that required everything Lomachenko had to defend. Both men were mildly stunned at various points in the fight and it ended with a very satisfying conclusion. 7-5 on my scorecard. Aside from the bad luck with the headbutt, it’s hard not think that Lomachenko could have won if he had Mayweather’s sense of timing. Known as “the Matrix” for his ability to figure out his opponents, Lomachenko’s 6th sense failed him in the wake of Teofimo Lopez.

Unfortunately, as so often is the case, the judges were off in their own worlds during the fight, texting their significant others surly messages about the bills. The right man won the fight, the but the scores didn’t reflect Lomachenko’s domination of the middle rounds, with one card even giving Lopez 11 rounds. Still, the result went in the right direction, and, being broadcast on a standard cable station, the fight served as a great representative for the sport.

I’m going to have to take Lopez off the Fighters to Follow page soon…it’s no longer voluntary.

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Stop the Fight


I was in the crowd jeering when Prichard Colon complained of shots to the back of the head, and just a few years before that, I’d suffered a severe concussion myself, while boxing in the amateurs. Sometimes we don’t see what’s right in front of our eyes, even if it comes and smacks us across the face. Check out this insightful short video from ESPN about occasions when the fight was not stopped soon enough. You’ll see multiple clips of one official or another just short of arguing against the corner or the fighter indicating that they could not continue.

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Plus what?


Well, it’s been a while.  That’s not just a shitty song by Staind (redundant, I know).  Didn’t think I’d be dusting off the keyboard for this fight even though I’m very excited for it.  I changed my mind when I saw ESPN’s coverage, and figured anyone reading this is, at this point, probably pretty used to me complaining.

ESPN’s upgraded service provides subscribers with classic fights and, for the price, a reasonable alternative to pay-per-view for some big matchups.  It apparently also grants access to certain articles the network deems worthy of privileged viewership.  Today was the first time I’ve run into one of these screens you normally see on a major news web site, asking users to login to continue reading.  For whatever reason, ESPN chose to restrict access to Tim Bradley’s breakdown of tomorrow night’s light heavyweight battle between Artur Beterbiev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk, listed right there as the top headline on the site.

So far, given the inconsistent experience of using new streaming services, I haven’t been impressed with the ESPN+ service, but here was a new element–written analysis only hardcore fans would read.  I was intrigued.  I thought, Dan Rafael’s “Ringside Seat” analysis is available just below for free, this must be good stuff!  How wrong I was.

Listening to Tim Bradley Jr. try to articulate his thoughts verbally on a telecast can be tedious, but reading it is another experience entirely.  Here are a few choice words from the article I paid to access:

“Gvozdyk is going to move constantly, using his jab and trying to catch Beterbiev as Beterbiev is trying to get to the spot he likes to be in — that’s midrange and on the inside — to rough guys up and land his power shots. He has shorter, more compact punches, so his power’s going to be more effective fighting closer…Gvozdyk’s power is going to be from the outside. It isn’t going to be from in-close. He’s a little taller, more lankier fighter, so he’s going to be looking to control the distance from the outside.”

He means: Gvozdyk boxes from the outside, Beterbiev brawls inside.

“Gvozdyk is the bigger guy. He’s a taller guy, the lankier guy. He has more reach, so he’s going to use those qualities and abilities because he has them, but he has to do it all night. He cannot lose concentration. I’ll pick him to win the fight if he does that.”

He means: I’m pretending to pick a winner but I don’t have much evidence to support my prediction, so it’s really just a reminder that Gvozdyk should fight from the outside.

To be fair, I don’t have a solid prediction myself (and I’m [obviously] no Shakespeare).  Both guys are so fresh and so dangerous that anything could happen, but I love Beterbiev’s relentless pressure.  When you talk about aggression in the ring, his name should be in the same discussion with guys like Edwin Valero and Mike Tyson.  Gvozdyk very well could win the fight with solid and consistent strategy, but I’m picking Beterbiev because I believe he’ll make the fight one that forces Gvozdyk to get the stoppage or be stopped himself.

Actually, Rafael’s article includes one specific tidbit that elevates it far above Bradley’s analysis: in 2009 these two fighters faced each other as amateurs.  The result?  Beterbiev broke Gvozdyk’s nose and won a stoppage.

Still, another disappointing fake-out from ESPN+.  The fight itself is being broadcast on the regular network, so why anyone should be paying for articles about it–especially articles written like this–is beyond me.  My subscription is not likely to continue much longer.

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Turnaround


We began the week with Mexican Independence Day, typically the time of year you would expect to see boxing’s biggest name, Saul Alvarez, in the ring.  He wasn’t this year, for a variety of reasons, but we did see him this past May, taking a big challenge against one of the best middleweights in the world in Daniel Jacobs.  He absolutely cruised through that fight, earning a close but clear decision.

Rather than stubbornly sticking to tradition, Canelo’s fall fight of 2019 will come on November 2nd.  He’s chosen to jump weightclasses again, this time to Light Heavy.  Dan Rafael says it’s a done deal, though I thought it was as far fetched as Mayweather-Ward  when I first heard it: Alvarez will be fighting Sergey Kovalev.  The same guy who dethroned Bernard Hopkins.

I get worked up about his choice of opponent sometimes, but this one is pretty dangerous.  Alvarez is rarely dazed by his opponents, but you never see him in the ring with a guy of Kovalev’s size.  Kovalev is 6 feet tall with good reach even for his height, and he’s known for his knockout power.

It was ambitious to take on Mayweather so early in his career, and it was complete failure.  Following his lone loss to the fighter considered the best of the era, Alvarez began an ambitious campaign for middleweight.  In May of 2017 he took a fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at a catchweight of 164 and a half.  Just 5 months later he was in the ring with Golovkin, far and away the most dominant fighter in the middleweight division.  He earned a draw, and in the rematch a year later, he got the win.

We’re only a year from the win over Golovkin.  Alvarez just had his 29th birthday in July, and he’s in the middle of his $365 million contract with DAZN.  He still has only the one loss, but in less than two months he’ll face one of the most physically powerful and talented fighters in the entire sport.  It’s actually humbling to see someone take such a risk, but it’s also thrilling to think that so many people are so confident in him.

If I had to guess at an outcome, I’d have to assume Alvarez will focus on defense and movement.  His thinking might be that he can land on Kovalev inside a lot more than Kovalev can land on him as long as he gets back out quickly, and that’s probably a sound strategy.  A win over Alvarez would sure change Kovalev’s career, and the loss might change Canelo’s reputation, but his legacy was secured the moment he signed the deal.

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