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Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. Pick

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1, 24 KOs) vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs)
When: Saturday, May 6, 2017
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Weight Class: 164.5-Pound Catch-Weight
by Scott of

Betting Odds:Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (-900), Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (+600)

Fight Analysis:

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez takes on Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. on May 6 in Las Vegas in a 164.5-pound catch-weight bout. It’s a tantalizing matchup of Mexican star boxers on Cinco de Mayo weekend. It should be an interesting matchup, though Canelo is heavily favored and the recent work of Chavez, Jr. has been less-than-sterling. With Chavez, Jr.’s recently campaigning at light heavyweight and Canelo having last fought at junior middleweight, there is a size advantage that Chavez. Jr. will be hoping to employ. Perhaps being given this one-time cure-all opportunity to a disappointing career will breathe some life into the sagging sails of Julio’s career.

Chavez, Jr. will certainly have his hands full with one of the best in the business in Canelo Alvarez. The Mexican superstar is still only 26 and has already racked up an impressive list of wins. He turned pro at the tender age of 15, soon becoming a top prospect. After scoring wins over top 154-pound competition like Shane Mosley and Austin Trout, he stepped up against Floyd Mayweather in 2013, losing a majority decision. He has since worked hard to improve his game. And lately, we are seeing a better Canelo—more seasoned, confident, and hard-hitting. He’s developed more of a one-punch variety of knockout power. Since the loss to Mayweather, he scored wins over Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan, and Liam Smith, among others.

Canelo won the linear middleweight title in his fight with Cotto, before dropping back to 154 for his fight against Smith. But the size difference that Chavez, Jr. is banking on might not be as pronounced as previously thought. Canelo usually adds some weight after weighing in, entering the ring more in the 170-pound range. He won’t have to be cutting weight. Contrast that to Chavez, Jr. who hasn’t weighed below 164.5 in years. It’s iffy if his body can still get down to that weight. So what first appears as an advantage for Chavez, Jr. might actually be a handicap. All things considered, Chavez, Jr. should probably be a light heavyweight. If he is drained as a result of making the weight, it’s going to be hard for him to transform the size discrepancy into an actual asset.

Beyond the weight is the recent shaky form of Chavez, Jr. It wouldn’t be fair to say he achieved all his fame based on his name, but the gap in merit and notoriety is certainly there. You see his name and his glossy record and it’s easy to form an opinion that bears little resemblance to reality. Against a past-his-prime Sergio Martinez, he lost the first 11 rounds, before staging a late rally that fell just short and partially camouflaged his inadequacy. The now 31-year old Chavez, Jr. then got a gift decision against Brian Vera, before winning the rematch. He was stopped at the end of the ninth round against 175-pound contender Andrzej Fonfara, before scoring a win over Marcos Reyes, taking another 18 months off, before beating Dominick Britsch in December.

The win against Britsch showed Chavez, Jr. is perhaps getting serious, He made 167 pounds and cruised to an easy decision. Combined with some of his shaky results and perhaps relating to those was a work ethic that left a lot to be desired. Trainers have left him because he doesn’t work hard, despite the riches that could come their way. With time slipping away and this golden opportunity at his feet, can Chavez, Jr. right the ship and get himself in the best condition possible? The bottom line is that if he wants to remain viable, a solid performance here is required.

To do so, Chavez, Jr. will need to dramatically reverse a slide that started a few years ago. Through neglect and indifference, his skills have eroded. We see Chavez, Jr. squared up to his opponents and getting hit far too often for anything resembling a world class fighter. While nothing like his father at the end of the day, Chavez, Jr. is at his best when pressing away with high effort like pops used to do, working the body, and tiring out his opponent. But with his work ethic having fallen off so hard recently, he has become quite ordinary. And against a sharp fighter like Alvarez, that could be a major problem.

At 6’1” and fighting an opponent in Canelo who stands 5’8,” he will be the bigger man. But if we base our analysis on the recent incarnation of Chavez, Jr., he doesn’t have the wherewithal and stamina to work his size advantage to good affect throughout the fight. This version of Julio appears to have a short window at the beginning of the fight to exploit this advantage. Against a fighter as professional, committed, and well-conditioned as Canelo, it’s hard imagining Chavez, Jr. using his weight to wear down Alvarez to the point where he can take over late. And that’s usually how you would envision a bigger and less-skilled man beating his more-talented, but smaller foe. It’s just super-iffy that Chavez, Jr. can spin out of his recent form and create that kind of 12-round performance.

This may have been a better fight for Chavez, Jr. five years ago. Canelo has become a man—a steely veteran of 50 fights at just 26 years old. He has added strength. He devoted himself to getting better. He approaches this sport with the utmost professionalism. And the results have shown this. Other than size, it’s just hard to pinpoint another advantage for Chavez, Jr. that he can wield against Canelo. If looking to take Canelo to task for recent fights, I suppose one could call him out for the Lara and Cotto fights—bouts where the judges were very generous to Canelo in fights that looked like they could have gone either way. One could maintain that his in-ring results against the very best he has faced suggest a fighter who is perhaps not the superstar his advocates proclaim him to be. His loss to Mayweather should have been unanimous, as he was schooled by the aging master. But even if these things are true, what can Chavez, Jr. do about it? He lacks the boxing skills that typically trouble Canelo, in addition to the drive and devotion needed to employ such a game plan.

It may be foolish to summarily rule out Chavez, Jr. He could conceivably take the bull by the horns and give this all he has. But even if he does, wouldn’t Chavez, Jr. have shown his greatness before now if he was truly capable of it? This isn’t his first big fight, so why now would he show a level he has previously been incapable of reaching? The catch-weight strips him of his only real advantage and Canelo might actually be the harder puncher in this matchup. I’m taking Canelo Alvarez at -900, while also looking for positions on the “under” and Canelo by KO, as the prop bets get posted closer to fight-night.

My Prediction to Win the Fight:
I’m betting on Canelo Alvarez at -900, while also looking for Canelo by knockout and “under,” as those odds get posted closer to the night of the fight on May 6. Canelo is more-talented and far more committed to his craft. Chavez, Jr. is the bigger man, but the weight-limit here could drain him and you never know what you’re getting with him, as opposed to Canelo whose professionalism is never in question.

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