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‘Terrible’ assessment of Canelo



Everybody loves Mexican champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Well, make that almost everybody.
Mexican boxing legend Erik ‘El Terrible’ Morales is not that eager to join the Alvarez bandwagon, not even after the latter moved two divisions up and recently won the World Boxing Organization (WBO) light heavyweight (175 lbs.) crown with a riveting knockout victory over feared Russian puncher Sergey Kovalev.
Morales minced no words when he told ESPN that Alvarez fought legendary boxers who were at the tail-end of their careers. He singled out names like ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley, Miguel Angel Cotto and even Kovalev. Morales stressed that Kovalev was already “damaged” even before Alvarez laid a glove on him and that Alvarez is just waiting for Gennadiy Golovkin to grow old and deteriorate before facing him again.
It is easy to dismiss Morales’ criticisms as plain jealousy. Alvarez is easily the hottest ticket in the sport today, even bagging last year a five-year, 11-fight deal with streaming service DAZN worth a record $365 million. Alvarez, who started his career as a 139-pound teenager, had won world titles in the junior middleweight (154 lbs.), middleweight (160 lbs.) and super middleweight (168 lbs.) divisions. For the Kovalev fight, however, he jumped from middleweight to light heavyweight.
Then again, Morales’ criticism, if taken objectively, does not appear to run on shallow waters.
Morales definitely knows what he is talking about. In an illustrious career, Morales won world titles in the super bantamweight (122 lbs.), featherweight (126 lbs.) and super featherweight divisions (130 lbs.). Morales took on all comers, which includes a prime Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny Pacquiao. Even at the tail-end of his career, Morales took on tough hombres like Marcos Maidana and Danny Garcia.
In stark contrast, Alvarez has been meticulously guided. Mosley had seen better days but still lasted the full distance with Alvarez in May 2012. Alvarez also failed to stop a faded Cotto when they fought in November 2015. Alvarez did score a scintillating knockout win over Amir Khan in May 2016, but Khan was a blown-up middleweight with a doughnut-knitted chin.
Kovalev was already 36 years old when he squared off with Alvarez on November 2. Once highly-feared, Kovalev had been knocked out by Andre Ward (2017) and even by the lightly-regarded Eleider Alvarez (2018). Before the fight with Canelo, Kovalev also walked the tight rope against American Anthony Yarde in August. Yarde hurt and came close to stopping Kovalev in the eighth round before the Russian rallied to post a stoppage win in 11 rounds. When Morales referred to Kovalev as “damaged,” he was referring to these fights the Russian had before the Alvarez fight.
Alvarez has not been that dominant when ranged against marquee boxers who are relatively in their prime. Heck, Alvarez was thoroughly outboxed by the smaller Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013. Alvarez also looked tentative against Daniel Jacobs, settling for a decision win in May. There were occasions in the Jacobs fight when Alvarez had trouble with the American’s size and ability to switch stances.
Alvarez has also received a lot of ribbing for avoiding a third showdown with Golovkin. The pair battled to a draw in September 2017, a fight many thought Golovkin won. In the rematch held a year later, Alvarez won via a razor-close majority decision. Fans have been hankering for a third showdown, but Alvarez instead chose to move up in weight.
Yet another issue that continues to hound Alvarez is the failed drug test he incurred last year. Before the second match with Golovkin, Alvarez tested positive for Clenbuterol, a banned substance. Alvarez’s camp blamed contaminated meat, Golovkin was more blunt and called the Mexican a cheater.
At age 29, Alvarez (53-1, 2 draws, 36 knockouts) has all the time in the world to prove his remaining critics, including Morales, wrong. A third match with Golovkin figures to be a good start. If he decides to stay in the light heavyweight class, Alvarez can take on WBC-IBF champion Artur Beterbiev of Russia (15-0, 15 knockouts) who is generally recognized as the best champ in the 175-pound class.
To earn his spot in the pantheon of boxing greats, Alvarez simply has to adhere to a proven formula: take on and beat the best fighters available. And, oh, stay away from contaminated meat.

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Today’s Front Page January 21, 2020

Today’s Front Page January 21, 2020