Alvarez remains the king at 168 – Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s eighth round stoppage victory over WBO world super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders on Saturday proved he has now settled in the 168lb (12st) division and is beyond peer. True, he still has to capture the IBF title held by American Caleb Plant, with it expected to happen in September, but it would appear a formality on Saturday’s showing. Having moved through the divisions in recent years Alvarez is a legitimate super-middle and any potential challengers will have to dance and move to his tune.
Big time boxing is back – Having almost come through the nightmare of the Coronavirus pandemic and worldwide lockdowns that have obliterated the sport, the events in Arlington, Texas were a much welcome boost to a future for boxing. All financial avenues have been paralysed for close to 18 months and to see a normal fight week with mass participation and a record 73,000 in attendance in the AT&T Stadium was a massive antidote for the sport. With another major fight in two weeks with the Taylor v Ramirez unification at 140lbs (10st) boxing is back !
Be careful with pre-fight promises – Billy Joe Saunders spoke all week about coming to fight, and if needs be, leaving it all in the ring. He mentioned the D word a number of times. Although an undoubted occupational hazard, fighters should never mention the ultimate sacrifice when hyping or building themselves up for a fight. One, it’s unsavoury, and two, if you speak in such terms you have to back it up with your performance. Saunders may have fought a great fight up to the eighth round stoppage, but the word ‘surrender’ has been used by many ex-fighters, fans and pundits over the last 48 hours. True, the extent of BJ’s injury was serious (multiple fracture of the orbital eye socket) but if you say you’re going to leave the ring on your shield, you’d better back it up. On Saturday, this in the eyes of many wasn’t the case. Just compare the performance with that of the 37 year old Japanese light-flyweight Takayama in the co-main event and you will see what I mean.
Mexican hall of fame awaits – Canelo is now in any argument on the greatest Mexican fighter of all time. ‘El Gran Campeon’ Julio Cesar Chavez Sr is in the hearts and minds of most Mexicans as the most revered boxer of their lives. Chavez went to levels of accomplishment in the 1980’s that few Mexicans before had achieved. In a country obsessed with boxing and fighters emerging from every barrio across the nation, Canelo is the modern day equivalent. He remains the current pound-for-pound king in most peoples eyes and has won world titles from 154lbs/11st up to 175lbs/12st 7lbs, compiling a 55-1-2 (37 KO) record. No Mexican (and very few boxers) have come close to matching that. Alvarez was on record this weekend as saying Chavez is his hero, but now he may one day stand alone.
The Golovkin trilogy fight has to happen in 2021 – Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin has recently turned 39 years of age. ‘Boxing old’ but he remains the only fighter to have extended (and in our view beaten) Alvarez in recent years. They are ‘decision-wise’ 1 draw and 1 victory (to Alvarez) in a two fight series. Canelo is a mere 30 years old and holds all the aces in terms of negotiating and earning power between the two. He owes himself, GGG and boxing a third defining fight. If Golovkin is beaten or retires before that happens then a question mark will always remain on Alvarez resume. His loss to Mayweather is never going to be avenged but he has an opportunity to settle his score with Golovkin. This fight has to happen in 2021 or at the latest in the next 12 months. No one is interested in a Caleb Plant fight other than Caleb Plant. Do the right thing Canelo and take the Golovkin fight in September. At 168 if you prefer, but only you can make it happen.