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The Avila Perspective: Canelo in Manhattan and other Boxing Notes

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  • The Avila Perspective: Canelo in Manhattan and other Boxing Notes

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    By David A. Avila

    Amber alert. If you spot a muscular redhead walking through the streets of New York City don’t be surprised. It’s probably Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

    Once upon a time it was strange to see Mexicans in Manhattan, but today in the 21stcentury, plenty of Mexicans live in the city in areas like Hell’s Kitchen.

    It figures that’s where the Mexicans would live.

    Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) moves up a weight division to challenge England’s Rocky Fielding (27-1, 15 KOs) for the WBA super middleweight title at Madison Square Garden. DAZN will stream the world title fight and entire card free for new users.

    The great experiment begins.

    Fresh off his $300 million signed contract Alvarez makes his DAZN debut in New York City, an area famous for its ability to attract boxing connoisseurs. Few areas in the USA have boxing fans like those crowds attending big fights at the Garden.

    “It fills me with a lot of pride because I know great fighters have fought there, like Muhammad Ali,” said Alvarez. “But to be the main event there at MSG, and if I'm not mistaken, the first Mexican there in a long time, it fills me with pride.”

    Also filling up the boxing ring will be the much taller WBA champion Fielding who has a distinct height advantage. When they stood next to each other, the British fighter towered over Alvarez like the Chrysler Building overlooking the tallest tree in Central Park.

    “It's a massive fight for me at Madison Square Garden and a big challenge in Canelo Alvarez,” said Fielding, 31, who sports a five-inch height asset over Mexico’s Alvarez.

    Fielding won the super middleweight title this past July when he knocked out undefeated Tyrone Zeuge in Offenburg, Germany. Knockouts have been a best friend for the Englishman in half of his last six fights.

    Canelo will be carrying the load for the boxing card that features several other notable Golden Boy Promotions fighters. DAZN hopes that his star power can transfer from television to streaming.

    Star power. It’s a crazy asset that can’t always be measured but in the case of Canelo he was able to attract around 1 million pay-per-views on several occasions.

    From Morongo to MSG

    Ten years ago an 18-year-old Canelo made his American debut at Morongo Casino, a venue that holds about 400 people. Max. I remember it well.

    Located in the desert, few would have predicted that freckled face welterweight would become one of boxing’s biggest draws. Well, here he is poised to make an entrance like one of those divas on Broadway. What’s the male equivalent?

    Canelo looks to become a three-division world champ of Mexican heritage. It’s a list rife with hall of fame names like Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and of course Julio Cesar Chavez. That’s lofty company.

    “Canelo is going to make history that night and be one on the shortlist of Mexicans to be a three-division world champion,” said Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions.

    “It's very important to be in that list of about ten Mexicans to become three-division world champions, so very important to enter history. That's why I'm here taking on this important fight, and it's important that we win this title,” said Alvarez, 28, who lives in Guadalajara.

    Facing someone as tall as Fielding does have its drawbacks, but the Mexican redhead has tangled with opponents equally as tall and heavy.

    Does anyone remember Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

    Back on June 2017, the battle of Mexicans saw Alvarez destroy Chavez Jr. over 12 one-sided rounds with his speed, skills and relentless attack. Can Fielding find a flaw in Canelo’s armor?

    “I believe what we worked on and what I can do can cause a lot of damage and a lot of -- a lot more than what people are thinking,” said Fielding.

    It’s an intriguing matchup designed to entice New York area fans to watch the Mexican fighter perform just months after he toppled Gennady “GGG” Golovkin from the middleweight throne and handed him his first professional loss. In a nip and tuck display of trench warfare, Canelo traded hellacious blows with Triple G and emerged the victor by majority decision.

    Golovkin’s team had dared the Mexican to fight Mexican style and he obliged and overcame the Kazakh assassin’s best blows.

    Mexican style has its detriments too. Those who use the offensive go-for-broke fighting method can also be the victim. It’s a 50/50 style meant to display a kill or be killed attitude that goes back to the Mexican Revolution when Pancho Villa’s army would descend on machine gun nests on horseback or on foot and overrun them with brute force. It was kill or be killed. That’s Mexican style.

    Will Canelo resort to Mexican style or will he utilize the boxing skills that have made him one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world?

    On Saturday fans in New York will see firsthand and those watching on DAZN will too.

    HBO Farewell

    Last weekend the final boxing show by HBO featured top female fighters Cecilia Braekhus and Claressa Shields in separate world title fights at the StubHub Center on a cold night.

    About 900 fans scattered around the outdoor arena to watch the event that pit Braekhus against Aleksandra Lopes in a welterweight match. It was not very interesting.

    In the middleweight match Shields fought Belgium’s Femke Hermans in another very one-sided fight.

    The challengers both looked to survive and were severely overmatched. Punches were seldom thrown by the challengers. It was pitiful.

    HBO did not offer much money for the event and thus the opponents willing to fight for the agreed purses gave lukewarm performances.

    Had a budget of at least $400,000 for each fight been offered, both title fights could have easily brought worthy opponents for Braekhus like Layla McCarter who was present for the boxing card or Kali Reis who fought the welterweight champion last May.

    But HBO left the cupboard bare and offered crumbs on its final boxing show.

    Shields and Braekhus would have been better off fighting each other. Perhaps that fight is in the future.

  • #2
    David makes a really good point regarding the money HBO put up for the final show. It was not a lot and thus the opponents for the Braekhus and Shields bouts were underwhelming. It is hard to fault the promoter, better opponents would have meant substantially more money and a big loss.

    That said, I do have some issue with the Estrada fight. Antonio Nieves campaigned for that fight against Estrada after Roman Gonzales pulled out of the event. Nieves would have been a much better opponent and was willing to accept whatever the purse would be. Instead, a much less capable opponent was located for Estrada. I am not saying a fight between Estrada and Nieves would have saved the event but it would have been much better than what we ended up seeing.

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    • #3
      Most of these female bouts are indeed pitiful.

      Can a competitive girl fight even realistically be made?

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