Show of hands and be honest. How many of you thought that Sergey Kovalev was going to beat Canelo Alvarez?
But wait, before you say to yourself “I didn’t,” wipe the donut crumbs off of your lap and blow them off of your tough guy keyboard; put down your energy protein drink in between narcissistic peeps at your conflated pen wielding biceps in the mirror or perhaps braid your ponytail again and consider another basic question… Isn't the best fighter in the world supposed to sail with high drama on the high seas of doubt?
So many of you corporate angled, cereal box degree recipients from the School of Hard Knocks and fake ass experts are a study in ridiculous. So many of you people thought the December 2017 Vasiliy Lomachenko Vs Guillermo Rigondeaux “no-contest” was a 50/50 fight (on everything I love, I told NYF's Editor-in-Chief Michael Woods upon seeing Loma and Rigo during their walkthroughs that Vasiliy “plays with Rigo and makes him quit too in about 6 rounds”).
But he beats Luke Campbell, 5lbs north of his best weight and 9lbs beyond where is frame should be to defend lightweight supremacy — mind you, against a fighter I think is every bit as good as Josh Taylor, who just beat who many of you felt was the best super lightweight fighter on the planet in Regis Prograis– and he loses pound-for-pound preeminence because Canelo Alvarez knocks out Sergey Kovalev in the 11th round of a boring ass fight that wasn't expected to have drama in the first place? Weed break.
Speed and power gets different as you move up in weight, but there's a Mendoza line that applies here. Generally speaking, beyond welterweight there's a tradeoff; in that in terms of boxing's weight divisions (and for posterity let's apply this axiom to just the original eight), once you go beyond welterweight you'll face less speed and more power, thus less of a reliance on reflexes and agility required of lighter weight classes. The reason why welterweight is such the gold standard in this regard, is that it sits in the middle of every metric you can use to gauge just how superlative a fighter truly is. It is why Mayweather's run at welterweight after his utter brilliance at super featherweight, 17 lbs later, is great. It’s why Pacquiao's run at welterweight after his head scratching madness from super flyweight, 32lbs later, is special.
Because Canelo is judged and gauged by his contemporaries relative to their box office success commercially, it would seem that he's being catapulted in a way not unlike a popular rapper would be to the throne; even if the substance of his work is more quantifiably voluminous than the more quality volume of his peers. What he is, is, a commercial popularity contest winner with an underground swagger.
Let's talk about Canelo's merits since say, the end of 2015.
This is a guy who got a never-before-seen middleweight concession at 155lbs and struggled with a Miguel Cotto not far from being Sadam Ali'd. Why was that? Because he's a waiter that takes his time with the service and has heavy feet but expected to be tipped big anyway. This is a guy who was then given a mere con, literally, Amir Khan, a career best super lightweight who was forced to give up speed and power at super welterweight to face Canelo. I sat at ringside inside of a brand new T-Mobile Arena and watched Khan put on a boxing clinic before Canelo – as expected – scratched the “Made in China” label off his chin. Liam Smith was a really good club fighter that annexed his London popularity to Jerry's World for Canelo's matinee fanbase at Cowboys Stadium. None of us thought much of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, other than his very popular name and a Mexican rivalry to sell, and point out whoever thought he won the first fight with Gennady Golovkin and we'll all call that person a liar. In fact, though Canelo won the rematch, it’s generally split in opinion among experts in terms of who they believe actually won that fight. The only reason I'll even mention Rocky Fielding is because he represented a precipitous jump to super middleweight, where Canelo faced less speed, agility, reflexes, conditioning and power. That Madison Square Garden event was all marketing and a scam. Then he gets Daniel Jacobs — who had to go through the gauntlet of a peaking Golovkin, a tricky Luis Arias, a tough mofo in Maciej Sulecki and an even tougher bastard in Sergey Derevyanchenko before getting a “Canelo fight.” Jacobs looked me directly in the eyes to complain about an obvious weight clause aimed to hurt him, and it did. He was flat and Canelo looked less than sensational in getting a desultory decision win. So since either he or his team avoided Derevyanchenko and disregarded the IBF middleweight belt earned from Jacobs, we're now going to say he's even a top 5 pound-for-pound fighter in the world?
Canelo (53-1-2, 36KOs) is in the throes of an 11 fight, $365 million dollar contract with DAZN more style than substance and you know it. The UFC certainly does, and showed they did not have a Trump card by pulling them both. Not only did they get treated like an old episode of “The Apprentice”, but so did their fan base of dubious subscription, who may have been more entertained watching Donald Trump fire someone than sitting through a painfully long submission by the transparent suits in Canelo's locker room talk. The shameful ode and concession to UFC 244, was owed to a drawing power more manufactured than real; no more real than Kovalev was a threat. In fact, to co-sign Badou Jack, Canelo Vs Kovalev felt and looked fixed. It was very clear that following a war of attrition with Anthony Yarde, Sergey Kovalev had been reduced to a 10 round club fighter simply renting the WBO light heavyweight title. Yeah the KO was hot (it was), but since he likes to fight so many legends on his resume, let's see DAZN or Golden Boy throw a boatload of money at an unbeaten Andre Ward and see if he can do that to the “Son of God.” But we know what they'll do now, don't we? Of course, it’s the right time now to get Canelo Vs Golovkin III, isn't it?
Since he didn't have to fight Derevyanchenko and Golovkin did, “Gennadiy” is now primed to be a Jersey Joe Walcott just waiting on Canelo's Rocky Marciano-like Suzy Q. Be honest, there's no “Big Drama Show” there anymore and you know it. But boxing being what it is and with Canelo being modeled after the “Money” blueprint, along comes UFC “BMF” (I guess that means Bad Mother F******?) champion Jorge Masvidal and an iteration of the Conor McGregor playbook. Please.
Canelo Alvarez is a pretty boy Gene Fullmer with red hair and freckles. He's a throwback fighter of social media dimension and boxing's subdued Thunderlips with a Mexican accent and a business casual corporate haircut. He's Juan Manuel Marquez, just not as daring. He's Julio Cesar Chavez, just not as compelling. He's theater, but he's not Broadway. He's more than OK, he's just NOT that good.