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Oscar De La Hoya talks Canelo


Those among us who identify ourselves as part of the Generation X ilk can perhaps remember a time in grade school when the novel 1984 by George Orwell was required reading.

To many, the vision laid out by “Big Brother” in the book didn’t seem too far fetched as the new millennium approached. If we’re to ask the same of our parents, however the answer may be quite different. The younger generation was accustomed to feeling misunderstood and never wanted to be told what to do. Baby Boomers, though, were noted as feeling quite alarmed at the idea of such a society where thoughts were known by a watching eye and used as incriminating evidence when necessary.

Give or take fifteen years, the internet and most notably the advent of social media has brought much of our public to a point where the printed word is less trusted than the digital blurb. It’s doubtful that Pavlov would be pleased with how many Americans believe just about everything they read. Likewise, social media posting has become less about a message and more about a response. That’s enough of insults for now because after all, this is a boxing article.

The need to fill a void for May 6, 2017 has become internet fodder for so many writers and fans. As we all know, the Saturday on or nearest to a self prescribed American (as opposed to Mexican) day of drinking and revelry usually means a well highlighted and at times anticipated night of boxing is to follow. To elaborate on the previous sentence, Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is not only not Mexican Independence Day, but it’s also not celebrated with much fanfare in Mexico, save for the city of Puebla. It is, however a weekend that works in such locales as Las Vegas for a high profile championship contest. The time of the year is perfect with the longer days and warmer weather. It’s not quite Spring and the full on rush of the Hellacious Sin City heat hasn’t hit the town just yet.

A great time for tourism, indeed.

Across boxing history or at least in recent memory, the corresponding weekend has given us such classics as Corrales/Castillo I and longtime fan (or at least female) favorite, Oscar De La Hoya had a bookend on the fifth of May for a few years. How the times could have been different had he stayed the course against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. on May 5, 2007. “The World Awaits” as the super fight was tagged, of course ended up being a case of “We Waited for That?” The rather thin, split decision victory for Mayweather just about gave the still unbeaten, pound for pound king of the ring an almost monopolistic stranglehold on the popular weekend for years to come. Wins against Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Robert Guerrero, Marcos Maidana and most recently, Manny Pacquiao all came at or near the Saturday nearest to Cinco de Mayo.

Now, there’s a gap to fill, so to speak. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez jumped into the shoes of the fifth of May in 2016. He put Amir Khan to sleep in the sixth round. Many within the boxing brass are convinced that the redheaded light middleweight champion from Guadalajara, Jalisco, MX is the one best suited to carry the torch in the coming years for the coveted weekend. Fair enough, but if we’re to stick to historical ties, then why hasn’t a Mexican fighter ever insisted the ring be shared with a French fighter to effectively commemorate the fifth of May? After all, May 5, 1862 recognizes Mexico’s victory over France. This is sarcasm, of course. Alas, here’s the scoop, if we’re to go by what’s being thrown around the “mediasphere.” May 6, 2017 may have been earmarked to host a fight between the aforementioned Canelo Alvarez and (please sit down) Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. Yes, you, the reader just read that and did so correctly.

Why Vegas? Shouldn’t they fight in Mexico? These two gentlemen may not be the faces of the sweet science in the boxing crazed nation of el TriColor. If we’re talking Canelo, here’s how a friend from Mexico replied to this writer’s query of the popular opinion of the singularly beaten (48-1-1, 34 KO’s) combatant from the city made popular by some awesome Tequila. The question was asked last year prior to his bout with Miguel Cotto, which he won.

“Las opiniones acá en México están muy divididas hay personas que dicen que el Canelo
es muy bueno y otros que solo es producto de la publicidad yo creo que si gana esta pelea se gana el respeto de sus detractores.”

The breakdown is that some like him and others don’t. Some see him as a legitimate champion while others think he’s a well placed chess piece on the gaming board of boxing. He’s dismissed by some as a reality TV makeover. Regardless of where the apple falls in terms of this argument, none are necessary when it comes to the son of the greatest fighter ever produced in Mexico. Many feel that the saddest thing in life is wasted talent and the somber truth is made even more disappointing when so much is handed to the person in question. Without any confusion, the career of Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. has been one of careful decision making as well as questionable opponents. All boxers deserve our respect, save for those who rip off paying customers and flat out quit in the ring.

Up until around five years ago, the opponents placed across the ring from Chavez, Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KO’s) have been less a case of “Who’s who” and one closer to “who’s that”? Furthermore, fans were expected to pay to watch him fight because regardless of whomever was on the other side of because he did after all have that name. That famous, beloved name. On and on the train rolled for just over the first forty fights of his career. He won a gifted decision in the summer of 2011 in order to gain the WBC middleweight crown from Sebastian Zbik and off he went. His biggest night came in the fall of 2012 and throughout the majority of twelve rounds, he was outboxed and for lack of a better word, “clowned” by Sergio Martinez.

Of course, boxing lore would have been credited with a night to remember for the better had the fabulous course of events in round twelve gone without any further incident. The knockdown inflicted upon Martinez almost turned the tides for the offspring of Mexico’s finest and it brought back memories of his father’s triumph over Meldrick Taylor twenty two years earlier. He received incredible, almost unbelievable praise for his efforts even though he lost a landslide decision to the Argentine champion. Too good to be true? Why, yes it was. A subsequent drug test for Chavez, Jr. came up in the red for the green, as in marijuana. One year passed before Austin, Texas native Brian Vera thoroughly surpassed all reasonable expectations and by most accounts and on the scorecards of most boxing writers nationwide, soundly defeated little Julio. Unfortunately, he didn’t win by knockout and the unscrupulous trio of ringside judges handed an inexplicable unanimous decision win to the silver spooned fighter from Culiacan.

Since then, he’s gone on to win a more convincing outing with Vera in a rematch, then suffered a knockout loss to Andrzej Fonfara. That particular bout was one where he was made to look like just as much an amateur as the competition he’d been handed over the bulk of his career. Over the years, there’s been plenty of bouts which carried much more hype than significance and yanked ever so hard on the nationalist neckties of legions of hard working, paying fans. All things considered, there doesn’t have to be a fight of huge appeal on Cinco de Mayo weekend 2017.

We may be best off just allowing things to decompress, so to speak. Think of what’s on the not too distant horizon. The rematch between Carl “the Jackal” Frampton and Leo “Terremoto” Santa Cruz, the showdown which pits Danny Garcia against Keith Thurman and of course, the return of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin as part of an intriguing matchup with Danny Jacobs. We can’t leave Golovkin out of the conversation, of course because we’re all waiting to see if 2017 is the year when he gets a crack at the aforementioned Canelo Alvarez. Hopefully, the names don’t outduel the implication of what’s really important in the long run. Save our Cinco. Placing Canelo versus Chavez, Jr. in the recycle bin is a good start.