Now just a few months removed from his hard-fought and somewhat controversial victory over Gennady Golovkin in their rematch this past September, unified Middleweight world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) is preparing to make his return to the ring, as he’s set to challenge secondary Super Middleweight titleholder Rocky Fielding (27-1, 15 KOs) Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Despite the fact that most consider him to be a heavy underdog, Fielding provides a unique challenge given that he’s the much larger fighter, as he owns a four-inch height advantage in addition to a 4.5-inch reach advantage.
It’s also important to note that Canelo has never competed above 160 pounds and he’ll be doing so for the first time this weekend.
Regardless of the size difference, many are expecting Canelo to secure another victory on Saturday night and for good reason, as he’s the far more accomplished and far more experienced fighter.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at his three keys to victory for Canelo to defeat Rocky Fielding.
Close the Distance
Ultimately, Alvarez is the far superior fighter when looking at this match-up. He’s more accomplished, more experienced and has simply competed at a higher level, which is why many expect to see him have his hand raised.
But as previously mentioned, Fielding does own a somewhat significant size advantage. Canelo will be moving up in weight to compete in a weight class he’s never competed in and he’ll be challenging a much taller and longer fighter, which is something he may not be used to.
With that being said, the Mexican-born boxer needs to focus on closing the distance. Despite the fact that he’s the more skilled boxer of the two, he can’t allow Fielding to use his height and reach to dictate the pace and distance at which the fight is fought at.
Canelo will need to nullify the size advantage by using footwork and movement to get inside where he’ll have the opportunity to land big shots of his own.
Often times throughout his career, Canelo has been seen primarily as a defensive fighter, preferring to counterpunch rather than engage on his own. That changed in his rematch with Golovkin earlier this year, however, as Canelo fought far more aggressively than he ever has and put the pressure on the feared Kazakh slugger.
This led Alvarez to success in that bout and he should look to employ a similar game plan against Fielding. Not only will he essentially need to be aggressive in order to close the distance, but if he elects to be more patient and look to counter strike, he may give Fielding the opportunity to use his reach advantage to fight from the outside. That’s not what Alvarez wants.
Also, despite the fact that he has 15 knockouts on his record, Fielding isn’t the most powerful fighter, so Alvarez shouldn’t be too cautious about moving forward. Ultimately, e should look to put the pressure on his opponent and hunt for the finish.
Attack the Body Early and Often
A powerful puncher, Canelo has the ability to do serious damage with each strike he throws. With that being said, when deciding on which areas to target with his strikes, he should attempt to target the body early and often in this fight against Fielding.
With Canelo likely looking to close the distance and get inside, the body shots may be open for him. And given that Fielding is a much taller and larger fighter, Alvarez should look to break and wear him down.
Repeatedly landing to the body will not only accomplish this goal, but it’ll also open the head and give Canelo the opportunity to land the big shots and inch closer to the finish he’ll be searching for.