“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.”
Lorenzo Anello – A Bronx Tale
Saturday night’s pathetic, utter mismatch between Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was designed, outwardly at least, to be a battle of wills between two Mexican superstars. It promised heavy-hitting action between two combatants whose enmity for each other was no secret. The idea was that if a mega-fight couldn’t be made between Alvarez and murderous punching Middleweight star Gennady Golovkin, this was a pretty damn good substitute.
Selling Chavez Jr. to the masses wasn’t that hard–there are several things he has going for him.
He is enormous, towering over nearly everybody he fights under 175 pounds. He can take a pounding and keep coming back for more, and his name will forever be synonymous with boxing itself. Imagine a guy named Tom Brady Jr. coming out in an NFL draft. Teams would be knifing each other to pick him up. But he’s got a major problem, one that can’t be concealed when you put him in with an elite fighter like Canelo–he’s not good enough.
The idea that Chavez Jr. could have been great is debatable, but what isn’t debatable is that Chavez Jr. never really gave a shit to begin with. While Canelo Alvarez was busy morphing himself from quality fighter into a full-fledged brand by fighting guys like Floyd Mayweather, Chavez Jr. was using his considerable clout to tip the scales in his favor, literally and figuratively.
And this isn’t some Alvarez puff-piece trying to sell you on the idea that great things will happen if you just try really hard. But trading on your last name to gain success will only get you so far. Eventually, without the skills to back up the name, you’re going to run into a wall. And the wall in this case came in the form of Alvarez’s fists. Both of them, connecting at will, with Chavez Jr.’s skull.
Chavez Jr. has spent the last few years feasting on overmatched and undersized opposition, creating his own weight classes to suit his dietary needs, and getting sonned by Andrzej Fonfara.
In that same span, Canelo has been beating everything in his path on his way to superstardom. The contrast between the two oft-linked fighters couldn’t have been more glaring. Canelo was peaking, while Chavez Jr. was close to sliding into journeyman territory. But Alvarez needed a fight, and apparently Chavez Jr. needed a beating, so off it went.
The fight itself played out like a less savage version of Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito. The “big” guy got the living shit pounded out of him by the “little” guy, but unlike Margarito, Chavez Jr. was never in any real danger. He just stood back, swallowed four-and-five punch combinations, and then repeated the process. He did this because he couldn’t do anything else. His father looked like he was seconds away from jumping into the ring and hammering away at Canelo’s body, because SOMEBODY had to, right?
Even when Chavez Jr. got his man on the ropes, what little action it created was quickly dulled when Canelo would lean back and unleash a hammering counter shot. Chavez Jr. would back up, not enjoying the contact in the slightest, and submit to the beating. It was painful. Dreadful. Embarrassing. You know you’re not doing well when the guy across the ring can’t even be bothered to fucking sit down in between rounds.
After reaching the pinnacle of his career, when he nearly threw a miracle hail mary against Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, Chavez spent the next few years avoiding a threat. In fact, he avoided one for so long that he’s no longer one himself. He was born into boxing royalty, and never bothered to work hard enough to remain there. We were told that finally, at 31 for Christ’s sake, that Chavez Jr. was ready to give it his all.
It was comical to see the betting odds drop dramatically after he made weight. Seriously, that’s how low he set the bar–he had people excited because he made the weight he was contracted to make. But in the end, it was too late.
Whatever size advantage he had was negated by the massive skill disparity. However serious he was, he didn’t have the ability to go along with the effort. And in the end, whenever Canelo Alvarez is mentioned in the same sentence with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., it will be to remark at how one fighter reached for greatness, while the other was content to pretend.
Random Notes From Around Boxing:
The HBO Face Off between Canelo and Chavez Jr. wasn’t the most entertaining broadcast they’ve ever done, but it did get fun when Chavez Jr. attempted to criticize Canelo, only to realize mid-sentence that he was the pot and his opponent was the kettle.
“You only fought small–uh, you don’t fight the best–uh, you don’t make wei-” I’m not sure how it’s said in Spanish, but I’m pretty sure the words Canelo was searching to counter with during most of that sequence were, “You’re an absolute piece of shit.”
Holy hell, why didn’t Lucas Matthysse move up to Welterweight a couple of years ago? Emmanuel Taylor is certainly no Manny Pacquiao, but Matthysse looked absolutely lethal. Every damn punch he threw hurt Taylor. At 34, Matthysse won’t get any better, and he certainly can be outboxed, but any division with him in it is infinitely more interesting.
That post-fight introduction to Gennady Golovkin could have been absolutely epic. The big screen showed off his vicious knockouts while his words were displayed for everyone to see. “Beat him, beat him, beat him…” If he’d stalked into the ring glaring at his future opponent like Mike Tyson used to, it would have sent chills down our spines. Instead, he started dancing around like somebody told him that the Tecate girls were in the dressing room waiting for him. Mood killed.
David Lemieux’s fight with Marcos Reyes featured more blood than a goddamn Tarantino flick, yet he couldn’t get the brave Reyes out of there. Still, Lemieux was fun as well to watch, as always. He won’t get Canelo or GGG, but how about Danny Jacobs? That’s a hell of a consolation fight for fans.
The epic fight last Saturday between Heavyweights Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko was immediately followed by boxing’s best tradition–the post-brutal-concussion-interview! But this was even better–those rascals in England really know how to do it–the don’t just stick some dipshit into the ring to ask inane questions. No sir, they just hand the mic right to the fighter. But of course, Klitschko managed to let us down once again.
Did he curse out everyone in the crowd and demand an immediate investigation into the gambling habits of the judges, like Juan Manuel Lopez did a few years ago when Orlando Salido belted him into Snoozeville? Did he proudly proclaim “I’ve got a concussion,” like Tim Bradley did after his war with Ruslan Provodnikov? Did he drop his trunks and serenade the crowd with a rendition “You’ve Got A Friend In Me,” like I did at a friend’s wedding a few years back? Nope. He thanked everyone, was super humble and congratulatory, and left with the respect of everyone in attendance. WHAT A DICK.
How about HBO’s production during the Heavyweight broadcast? I’m curious as to whose idea it was to shut Jim Lampley’s mic off while cranking Roy “Smooth Talker” Jones up to 11. Good lord. Showtime once again booted HBO in the ass, even with Mauro Ranallo and his Maury-From-Goodfellas hair leading the charge.
Joshua did the impossible–not by beating Klitschko, who in my opinion has been coasting by on size and god-awful opposition for years–but by making Klitschko entertaining. Good for him.
Early prediction for September? Canelo hangs for a bit in a cautious first few rounds before GGG puts him away.