Michael Rosenthal takes a look back the launch of Canelo-Charlo, another super-fight in a year full of them.
That could be the theme of the super fight between undisputed world champions Canelo Alvarez and Jermell Charlo taking place Saturday, September 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, live on SHOWTIME Pay-Per-View (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
There was no trash talk and minimal hyperbole during the New York and Los Angeles press tour to kick off the promotion on Tuesday and Wednesday; just old-school respect for the opposition.
And why not? These are two of the most accomplished boxers in the world.
Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs) is a four-division titleholder, the current undisputed super middleweight champion and arguably the face of boxing. Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs), the undisputed junior middleweight champ, is a complete boxer-puncher with a series of high-profile victories that have catapulted him onto pound-for-pound lists.
Each fighter knows that he faces a significant challenge. And so do grateful fans.
Indeed, the most compelling matchups are those for which a compelling case can be made for both fighters, which certainly applies to Canelo vs. Charlo. Bottom line: The matchup couldn’t be more fascinating.
“I love being in these kinds of fights,” Alvarez said. “Stay tuned on September 30 because this is gonna be a great night for boxing.”
THE CASE FOR ALVAREZ
Alvarez, who turned pro at 15, evolved into the one of the best technicians in the sport, which is the main reason he has been so successful. He’s arguably a better boxer than Charlo.
However, the pre-fight factor that stands out most is size. Charlo, who has been fighting at 154 pounds, will move up two weight classes to 168 to face a future Hall of Famer who is still only 33 years old.
Fourteen pounds is a big leap even for a fighter as talented as Charlo, who is accustomed to taking punches from 154-pounders. Alvarez is a legitimate 168-pounder with heavy hands.
Can Charlo take the power of a naturally bigger man with the ability of Alvarez? The answer to that question could be the key to the fight.
Alvarez’s critics insist that he has begun to decline after 18 years and dozens of training camps. They’ll point to his last two fights as evidence, points victories in his third fight with Gennadiy Golovkin and against tough, but limited John Ryder.
That assertion is reasonable; he didn’t look great in either outing.
However, he might’ve had legitimate reasons for his subpar efforts. One, the right-hander fought with an injured left wrist in those fights, which undoubtedly hindered his performances. He had surgery after the Ryder fight and reportedly is now healthy.
Two, one wonders how motivated he was going into those fights. He resisted facing Golovkin a third time because he saw their rivalry as finished business after the first two installments while Ryder was just an opponent. Sometimes it’s difficult to get up for “just an opponent.”
Motivation shouldn’t be a problem on Sept. 30. This is a crossroads fight for Alvarez. If he loses, he could be finished as a dominating figure in the sport. He must win. And who doesn’t want to prove their doubters wrong?
“It’s good that people are saying I’ve lost a step,” Alvarez said. “It’s fine. I know why I didn’t look as good in my last two fights. I know why and I’m different now. I’m preparing now for a different type of fighter.
“I’m 100% focused on this fight. Then we’ll see what happens after.”
THE CASE FOR CHARLO
Charlo’s combination of ability, athleticism, punching power and mean streak is rivaled only by Terence Crawford, Naoya Inoue and Gervonta Davis. He’s a special fighter.
His resume – one of the best in the sport – supports that opinion. He has failed to win only twice in his career and corrected those missteps in rematches, brutally stopping Tony Harrison and Brian Castano.
That means he has beaten everyone he has faced, a long list of solid opponents that also includes Gabriel Rosado, Vanes Martirosyan, Austin Trout and Jeison Rosario.
Alvarez is well aware of his foe’s impressive track record. In fact, he sees Charlo as a better fighter than his twin brother, undefeated WBC World Middleweight Champion Jermall Charlo, because, “Jermell has had better opposition in his fights.”
What about the size disadvantage?
Well, it might not be as significant as many believe. One reason Charlo has fought at 154 for a remarkable 13 years is that he didn’t want to campaign at his brother’s weight, 160. I suspect he would’ve moved up one division long ago had Jermall not been in the picture.
That means one could argue that he’s a natural 160-pounder at this point. And a jump from 160 to 168 – as opposed to 154 to 168 – is a typical progression.
Plus, when they stood face to face and side by side, Charlo, the taller of the two, didn’t look appreciably smaller than Alvarez, although they both wore shirts during the stare downs in New York and Los Angeles.
Finally, Charlo could be catching an all-time great at just the right time. If Alvarez has slipped even to a small degree, that could be enough for a complete, seasoned fighter like Charlo to make the size difference irrelevant and have his hand raised.
This could be the fight that produces boxing’s next superstar.
“After September 30, people are gonna appreciate my skills and what I’ve been doing for so long, ever since I was a kid,” Charlo said in L.A. “With every fight, I come to put on a show, and I’m dangerous the whole fight. I want to be known as great.”
It doesn’t get much better than this.
This is the first time in the four-belt era that two male undisputed champions will have met in the ring, which in itself is enough to sell this intriguing fight to a fan base that constantly craves such best-vs.-best matchups.
There’s no need for theatric exchanges or wild behavior at news conferences in an attempt to garner attention, which brings us back to our original premise. Each fighter could say exactly the same thing about the other: “He is about as dangerous as it gets.”
For a closer look at Canelo vs Charlo, check out our fight night page.