Are Fans Losing Patience With Canelo?

Brutal and dangerous though it may be, boxing is still a sport, both at heart and in practice. So when a prominent pugilist decides the competitive nature that drives it is a bit dicey and that it’s best to avoid the challenge of legitimate and fair competition, that fighter then becomes a villain in the eyes of many fans. He may still have a large following, but no following is big enough to counter the scorn and derision that comes when it’s perceived that a once highly respected boxer has become a dreaded “cherry picker.” He may even see his following begin to dwindle, especially if he starts losing fights. See Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for an example of that.

Canelo: has he earned the "cherry picker" title?
Canelo: is he ducking GGG?

And while it’s true Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is no Chavez Jr., it is true that there are now rumblings about how the man views his profession. Not that long ago, the Mexican superstar was seen as a shining light in the darkness of manipulation and mediocre match-making that seemed to be enveloping boxing. While other champions played it safe, Canelo told anyone who would listen that he was different, that he would fight anyone.

And it seemed he meant it. Erislandy Lara, for instance, was a tough and unpopular choice of opponent, but Canelo took him on anyway. Because Canelo was just that kind of fighter. Maybe even a throwback. After a close points win over the Cuban he declared: “I’m always going to take the best fights and the hardest fights, the fights [the fans] want to see.”

But since moving up to middleweight, there’s been a change in the way Alvarez is viewed, and with good reason. First off, there’s the fact that Canelo apparently wants to remain middleweight champ without adhering to traditional middleweight rules, insisting that anyone who wants to fight him has to weigh-in at 155 lbs. The problem, of course, is that the middleweight limit is 160 lbs. Don’t want to fight above 155, Canelo? Fine, but your personal rules shouldn’t apply to your title. If you don’t want a fight to be held at the middleweight limit, there’s an easy solution to your problem. Or at least there should be.

Canelo vs Lara: was Alvarez fortunate to get the win?
Alvarez battles Lara: what happened to this version of Canelo?

Needless to say, this is not a good way to endear oneself to a solid fan base, even one as hard-earned and large as Canelo’s. Neither is the fact Alvarez doesn’t seem eager to face Gennady Golovkin anytime soon. There may be good reason for this; after all, Golovkin is the kind of guy that can ruin a career with a few hard placed shots. This, however, is boxing. And again, boxing is a sport. And Gennady Golovkin has more than earned his chance to compete for the linear middleweight championship of the world.

But Canelo is insisting that Golovkin, a natural middleweight, drop down to 155 in order to face him. And that he wait. How long Triple-G has to wait, we don’t know, but it’s clear Canelo isn’t anxious to make this fight happen. And some fans are wondering if the World Boxing Council, whose middleweight championship Alvarez holds, will prove to be fully accommodating to the popular Canelo and his team.

The WBC, after all, has a pretty bad reputation – so bad that even though it has mandated that Canelo must fight GGG next, no one is confident it will double down on its edict if either Canelo or his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, demur. And so there’s a chance that the much anticipated Canelo vs Golovkin showdown will be pushed back yet again, as it’s already been pushed back, or even prevented from ever happening. And if that ends up being the case, Canelo’s image and status is going to take a major hit.

Canelo vs Khan: a light heavyweight vs a welterweight?
Canelo vs Khan: Alvarez will once again enjoy a significant weight advantage.

It doesn’t end there, however. There’s also the matter of welterweight Amir Khan. Make no mistake about it, the recently announced ‘CaneloKhan’ match is a high-profile, big money event. But for those looking for Alvarez to live up to his promises and continue to take on big challenges, this is not what they had in mind. Maybe a bulked-up Khan can present a stylistic challenge for Canelo, but the Mexican’s size and strength is most likely going to be too much for the smaller man with the weaker chin. Chris Algieri, after all, presented Khan with a stiff challenge in the Britisher’s last fight, which was at welterweight. Algieri is improving as a fighter, but if he can give Khan a serious run for his money, what will Canelo do to him?

Let’s keep in mind that not only is Khan a naturally smaller man, but also that Canelo has seemingly perfected the art of taking full advantage of the day-before weigh-in. While on paper he’s been a super-welterweight or a 155 lb. fighter, in fact, for at least the last three years, he’s been a light heavyweight when the bell rings. He weighed 172 pounds before he got into the ring with Austin Trout back in 2013; he was 170 for his one-sided drubbing of Alfredo Angulo. Since then he’s avoided HBO’s unofficial scale, but he still insists the weight limit for his fights be 155. Granted, Cotto wanted to fight for the middleweight title against Canelo at a lower weight, but why should that give Canelo the right to demand a weight some 20 pounds less than what he weighs when the fight begins? That’s the sort of thing that rubs fans the wrong way.

This better be next, Saul.

Still, it’s clear Canelo and his team are comfortable with the decisions they’re making. Indeed, these decisions are extremely sound financially. What’s more, all Canelo has to do is fight GGG at 160 after the Khan bout and all will be forgiven. If, of course, he gets by Khan. As I wrote, Alvarez will “most likely” get the better of the Englishman. What if he doesn’t, though? What if Khan out-slicks him all night, only for Canelo to get an outrageous Vegas decision? Or what if he does get the win, but then signs to take on Billy Joe Saunders and the WBC lets it happen? The man will truly be in trouble with the fans in that case. For he’ll be known as a “favored child” in boxing and his stock will fall exponentially.

The fact is, boxing is ultimately a sport, no matter which way you slice it. And sometimes there’s consequences for even the most market-friendly courses of action. If Saul doesn’t want to lose the respect of boxing fans, assuming he defeats Khan, he better think long and hard about his next career move.            — Sean Crose

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3 thoughts on “Are Fans Losing Patience With Canelo?

  • February 6, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Yep. It’s do or die time for Canelo. He’s built up a lot of good will taking on tough fights, but his recent behavior has been grating. Most everyone expects him to beat (perhaps even decapitate) Khan (which is really a joke of a fight if we’re just being honest). Like you said, if he fights GGG at the middleweight limit, he’ll keep the reputation that he has worked so hard to build. If he refuses to fight GGG, the fans will start quacking.

  • February 7, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Good article mate.

    It’s a dangerous fight for Canelo, to be sure, it’s just not the fight the people want to see right now, I can understand that. Like you said though if he wins and then fights GGG all will be cool with the fans whether he wins or loses against GGG. BUT if he loses to Khan, then rematches (which of course would happen) and fails to regain the title then I think it is pretty self evident that Khan will not even walk on the same side of the street as GGG afterwards (no matter how brave Khan can be in his match making).

    I reckon the fans don’t lose with this one as it will be a good style fight, a 2 or 3-1 on for Canelo but again, and I hate having to say this yet again, the loser here is GGG. He gets to play the waiting game with some opponent(s) (hopefully more than one) that don’t stand a chance or up his stock in the meantime. Poor fella but at least we get to see him in action (and that counts).

    I am not finished with Canelo, not by a long shot, he still has my support and respect, lets see if I still say that at the end of the year though.

  • February 8, 2016 at 5:27 am

    I do not see Khan in any way a legitimate threat to Canelo and the fact that this is a contest for the WBC middleweight title is an even bigger farce.

    For what it’s worth, I see this fight resembling the Josesito Lopez fight (farce). It will be slightly more competitive early on, with Khan using his speed and movement to make Canelo look plodding and unable to cut the ring off.

    However when Canelo starts to time Khan better and land more shots, I absolutely do not see Khan taking the punch, and like Lopez, anticipate he’ll be getting knocked down multiple times before being stopped, the only difference being that Khan will end up unconscious, whereas Lopez was stopped on his feet.

    Canelo has perhaps learned from Mayweather, I believe he’s now starting to game the system, not only bending rules to suit him (‘defending’ the middleweight crown at 155lbs, demanding that the likes of Golovkin fight below 160lb limit), but also by looking to calibrate that patented Mayweather risk/reward formula. Khan represents virtually NO risk, but probably a relatively high reward.


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