November 25, 2022

What makes Canelo so compelling?

The list of biggest pay-per-view stars in combat sports likely has Conor McGregor at the top even now.

After that, you could argue for a few other names: Jorge Masvidal, Gennady Golovkin, even Kamaru Usman.

However, I would make the case for Canelo Alvarez, the Mexican middleweight who is set to fight at light heavyweight, simply because he can.

What cannot be disputed, however, is that Canelo is clearly the best and most famous boxer in the world. What makes it so compelling?

When you think about it, what was the last great Canelo fight you remember? Perhaps Golovkin’s first fight that ended in a controversial draw.

It was a great fight no doubt, with both fighters landing some really heavy punches and boxing at the highest level we thought imaginable, but it wasn’t an end-to-end war in the vein of Arturo Gatti-Micky. Ward or even Julio César Chávez versus Meldrick Taylor.

Maybe we need to go back further into the James Kirkland fight. It was a war, and Kirkland had a little pop going for it, but from the opening bell it felt like Michael Corleone was playing with Carlo at the end of Godfather 1 only to give her what we all knew was coming.

Really, for the biggest star in the world, Canelo hasn’t been in many big fights.

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

There have been great showcases of his talent. Miguel Cotto’s victory was exceptional, even against a bloated and aging Cotto.

Just like Amir Khan’s victory. But Khan’s victory set the pattern for his recent victories against fighters like Sergey Kovalev, Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders.

Canelo was not particularly busy in these fights. Indeed, he’s not a particularly busy fighter these days (when fighting).

He pushes forward, throws his stack driver with a jab less often than I would like, and hits his opponents with heavy counters and short combos.

What usually happens at the end is an extraordinary highlight, punctuated by his brutal knockouts of Billy Joe Saunders, Sergey Kovalev and, of course, Amir Khan.

But before that climax, it was Canelo who came forward, chopping wood to the body and hitting his opponent with perfectly timed bombs on exceptional head movement and perfect footwork.

As a personal story, I watched the Canelo vs. Caleb Plant unification fight with a group of friends who were very casual fans of the sport.

We watched most of the card and were all off the couch when Anthony Dirrell knocked out Marcos Hernandez in the co-main.

Everyone was thrilled to see the man I sold as the best fighter on planet earth put his best foot forward. His walkout was extraordinary and the moment looked great, even on TV.

Then the fight started. Canelo stalked, while Plant swooped and moved, flashing quick hands.

Canelo clearly won rounds with his effective pressure and counters, but it was not an exciting fight.

By round 10 or 11 you could feel the pressure from Canelo and it was clear that Plant’s resistance was fading.

Unfortunately, so was my friends’ interest. As the fighters returned to their corners after Round 9, a friend said, “It’s a bit of a boring fight.”

He was right.

Canelo Alvarez and Caleb Plant trade punches in their title fight.

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Watching Canelo in that fight was like watching Schindler’s list. Exceptionally well designed. Almost poetic in its movements, a foot so rarely badly placed. He is clearly a master at his craft, operating at the peak of his powers. More than all that, the moment seems historic.

But you never want to see or experience that moment again.

I’m not saying Canelo is a boring fighter, like Schindler’s list isn’t a boring movie, because his knockouts are so amazing and his skills are so sharp, his power is like a heavy weight, and his feet and head move in perfect unison.

He’s an almost perfect fighter. But it is this perfection that is almost monotonous.

He’s not the first big pay-per-view to be a boring fighter. Indeed, the man he cast as the world’s greatest pay-per-view fighter, Floyd Mayweather, has often been accused of being boring.

But Mayweather was an English speaker, a big talker and a showman. He was also a pure villain, wearing the black hat with impunity.

Canelo is none of these. His broken English is endearing in a way that Mayweather’s weaponization of the language was confronted with and often shrouded in darkness.

Mayweather has been credibly accused of horrific domestic abuse and has regularly displayed regressive attitudes towards femininity and masculinity, while Canelo is a family man who exudes nothing but wholesomeness when he is with his family.

Alvarez advised his son in a All access on Showtime to never be afraid to cry or show emotion.

I’m willing to bet Mayweather’s net worth that Mayweather never had this conversation with any of his kids.

Beyond that, Mayweather called himself “Money” Mayweather and was obsessed with material wealth. At the end of his career, he spent more time talking about his Rolex watches, his Bugattis and his mansions than his fights.

Canelo also seems to like material things, but he’s less obsessed with talking about them. It talks about heritage, greatness and family.

So what makes Canelo so compelling? Next to his knockouts is his ambition and work ethic versus meanness and controversy

In recent years, Canelo has taken on challenges with aplomb. Early in his career, when he was guided by Oscar De La Hoya, he was reluctant to take on challenges.

He refused to fight Golovkin for several years, saying he couldn’t reach the middleweight limit of 160 pounds. He fights this week at 175.

But since the Golovkin fight, and even just before with the Cotto fights and to a lesser extent Khan, there hasn’t been a challenge he hasn’t liked the look of.

Canelo GGG

(Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)

He fought, and in my opinion won, the rematch with Golovkin and since then he has fought champion after champion.

Danny Jacobs was a potential concern that he got rid of easily if not decisively, then went up to 175 and brutally knocked out Sergey Kovalev.

After that, he ripped Callum Smith’s bicep from the bone by pure blunt force trauma. The less said about Avni Yildirum, the better.

But then he smashed Billy Joe Saunders face with an uppercut and eventually he unified the super middleweight division with an easy win over Caleb Plant.

He’s running right now that makes you think of Robert De Niro between 1974 and 1984, just pulling off classic performance after classic performance: Godfather 2, Taxi driver, deer hunter, angry bull, king of comedy and Once upon a time in America. This Avni Yıldırım fight is the New York, New York equivalent.

In this series of fights, he yo-yoed between 160 and 175, eventually unifying 168, with ease and always rose to the toughest challenges in a way Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather’s later career simply didn’t. did, and he did. with ease and grace.

This week again, he takes on the biggest challenge fighting the most talented light heavyweight in the world, other than potentially Artur Beterbiev.

Beyond that, he refuses to be beholden to a promoter or broadcaster like Mayweather was, moving promotional outfits around as he sees fit, knowing he still has a home with Eddie Hearn and DAZN.

It is this ambition to jump that I like in fighters. Canelo is the purest example.

All he wants is the biggest fights, that’s what interests him. He doesn’t talk like Paul Malignaggi, he doesn’t fight like Chavez and he doesn’t offend like Mayweather.

All he does – all he cares about – is fight the best and beat them within an inch of their lives.

Knockouts are just the icing on the cake.