By Larry Fine
NEW YORK, Feb 22 : Mexican pride will be at stake when two-time world champion Canelo Alvarez battles former middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in Las Vegas on Cinco de Mayo weekend.
Alvarez brings a 48-1-1 record with 34 knockouts into the May 6 clash while Chavez, son of the legendary Mexican champion, is 50-2-1 with 32 wins within the distance.
“When you have two Mexicans in the ring, it’s going to be an all-out war,” former champion and Golden Boy Promotions chief Oscar De La Hoya told reporters before yesterday’s Times Square stop on the bout’s publicity tour.
“That’s what boxing needs, is some wars.” The showdown at T-Mobile Arena, which will be fought at a catch-weight of 164-1/2 pounds, also holds the promise of fireworks in the ring because of the history between the boxers.
“He said many things over the years, criticised my career, always putting doubts on my person and it adds up,” Alvarez said. “That’s what makes this fight boiled up, more personal.” Chavez, 31, has chided the 26-year-old Alvarez for ducking dangerous potential opponents, and theorized that his red-headed compatriot offered him the bout because of his relative inactivity since breaking a hand.
“I was surprised but I think he took this fight because of my inactivity,” said Chavez, who at 6-foot-1 (1.85 metres) is four inches (10 centimetres) taller and accustomed to boxing as a super middleweight.
“I broke my hand and only had like five fights from 2012 to 2017. He thinks I’m not in my prime.” Chavez has struggled in the past making weight when he has dropped down in class, but has strong incentive for this fight. Under the contract, it will cost him $1 million of his purse for every pound he is over the 164-1/2 pound limit.
Alvarez, whose only loss came to boxer extraordinaire Floyd Mayweather, said fans preferred the kind of action that will be on offer against Chavez.
“It’s always better to have this type of opponent, that’s going to be right there,” he said. “Not only for me, but for the fans in order to give them a fight, a fight where there will be a lot of contact, that’s not a fighter that I have to follow and chase.
“It’s a 100 percent possibility of a knockout.”