LAS VEGAS — Mexican supremacy goes to Canelo Alvarez, whose battle for national pride against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on Cinco de Mayo weekend turned out to be an annihilation of the highest order.
After all three judges scored Saturday night’s fight a shutout for Alvarez 120-108 — as did ESPN.com — he announced, WWE-style, in the ring at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas that he would next challenge unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) on Sept. 16, Mexican Independence Day weekend, at a site to be determined.
GGG, who has made 18 title defenses, was ringside and had retreated backstage following the fight before making the ring walk to his usual music to join Alvarez in the ring as the crowd went wild.
Alvarez-Golovkin is the biggest fight boxing has to offer, and the one fans have looked forward to for more than a year. Alvarez has been heavily criticized for having not yet faced Golovkin. But all along, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya said the plan was for them to meet in September, and now they have lived up to their word.
Golden Boy and K2 Promotions’ Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, who also was ringside with Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez, were able to keep their deal quiet throughout the buildup to the Alvarez-Chavez fight. It was signed last week, but they were happy to talk about it after Alvarez had done his business with Chavez.
“GGG, you are next, my friend. The fight is done,” Alvarez said through a translator. “I’ve never feared anyone, since I was 16 fighting as a professional. When I was born, fear was gone.”
There was no world title on the line when Alvarez stepped into the ring against Chavez, his bitter rival, on Saturday night before a raucous, sold-out crowd of 20,510, but there was so much more at stake: pride, country and all-time bragging rights in a raging feud that goes back years.
But instead of a fight for the ages, Alvarez dominated and outclassed Chavez to win the super middleweight fight going away, although he never came close to knocking down the iron-chinned Chavez. No rounds were all that close in one of the most one-sided big fights to go the distance in recent boxing history.
Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs), 26, and Chavez (50-3-1, 32 KOs), 31, met a contract weight of 164.5 pounds. It was 9.5 pounds heavier than Alvarez — a former middleweight and junior middleweight world titleholder — had ever fought at and the lowest that Chavez, notorious for his issues making weight, had signed to fight at since he lost his middleweight belt to then-lineal champion Sergio Martinez in 2012. They both weighed in at 164 pounds, and neither would step on HBO’s fight-night scale to see how much weight they had put on following the weigh-in.
But any notion that Chavez’s considerable size advantage would help him was quickly dismissed, and the talent disparity between the two was obvious almost immediately. While Alvarez was quick on his feet and with his hands, Chavez plodded around the ring and threw one punch at a time in a woeful performance. He showed nothing but the heart to take the beating as his legendary father, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., the icon of Mexican boxing, watched from ringside.
“Tonight, I showed I could move, I could box, I showed as a fighter I can do all things,” Alvarez said. “I thought I was going to showcase myself as a fighter that could throw punches, but he just wouldn’t do it. I’ve shown I can do lots of things in the ring, anything a fighter brings, I’ve shown I can showcase myself.”
Alvarez was so in control that he took to standing between rounds.
“I wanted to try something new,” he said. “I never sit down in sparring, and I didn’t want to sit here.”
Chavez appeared befuddled throughout the fight.
“Speed and distance was a problem,” Chavez said through a translator. “He’s a good fighter, very fast and very consistent. Canelo beat me. He beat me at the distance. He is a very active fighter. He’s very good, and he beat me.”
Alvarez opened the fight firing jabs and right hands over the top, while Chavez was more cautious with his punches. Alvarez kept pumping his jab in the second round but also nicely mixed in combinations to Chavez’s head and body with his left hand before going back to the jab.
While Alvarez stalked Chavez and fired hard combinations, Chavez was limited to following him around and throwing one punch at a time. By the fourth round, Alvarez was dishing out a beating and it was clear Chavez was going to have to do something dramatic to get back in the fight.
Alvarez, who earned at least $5 million — with a guarantee of millions more — landed two heavy right hands in the fourth round, and Chavez had no answers as the crowd began to chant, “Canelo! Canelo!”
In the fifth round, Alvarez landed a powerful right hand over the top that rocked Chavez and sent him reeling. He looked almost helpless against Alvarez’s attack.
By the end of the fifth round, Alvarez had landed 102 punches to Chavez’s 25, according to CompuBox statistics.
Alvarez continued to assault Chavez, whose purse was $3 million — but he was also guaranteed millions more — with head-snapping combinations in the seventh round of an absolutely one-sided fight. As if Chavez didn’t have enough problems, his left eye began to swell and close in the seventh round. The beating continued in the eighth round, as Alvarez landed a big right hand that snapped Chavez’s head back yet again.
Alvarez continued to do almost as he pleased until the end of the fight against a game but overmatched Chavez, who never landed a single big-time punch.
According to CompuBox, Alvarez landed 228 of 604 punches (38 percent) and Chavez landed just 71 of 302 (24 percent), a miserable total for a 12-round fight. Alvarez landed 83 jabs to Chavez’s 15. HBO will televise the replay of the fight on Saturday (10:05 p.m. ET/PT).
“I wanted to box, but he went to the ropes, and I just needed to throw more punches,” Chavez said. “I would’ve attacked more, but I would’ve been countered by his punches. [Trainer] Nacho [Beristain] told me to do that, but the strategy didn’t work. The speed and the distance was the key. I couldn’t throw as many punches as I wanted. My father kept telling me to throw more punches from the ringside.”
With Chavez vanquished, and in even easier fashion than many expected, all attention quickly turned to Alvarez’s mega-showdown with Golovkin.
“I feel very excited,” said Golovkin, who is coming off a tight decision win against Daniel Jacobs on March 18. “Right now is a different story. In September, it will be a different style — a big drama show. I’m ready. Tonight, first congrats to Canelo and his team. Right now, I think everyone is excited for September. Canelo looked very good tonight, and 100 percent he is the biggest challenge of my career. Good luck to Canelo in September.”
As for Alvarez, he denied he was ever afraid to face GGG, as some had suggested. He sounded almost offended by the notion.
“I never got my share of fear. I’m very happy, and the rivalry is going to show my skills even more,” Alvarez said. “I’ve had difficult fights, and that will no doubt be a tough fight. But, I always say Canelo Alvarez is the best because I fight the best.”
Canelo vs. GGG? It is indeed boxing’s best against the best, and maybe it will be the fight for the ages that Alvarez-Chavez was not.