By Cliff Rold
Even the people who knew didn’t really know until they saw it.
There was always a healthy skepticism about the Saul Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight. There was a strong (proven accurate) cadre that saw the fight a farce; another that saw Chavez making a show of it while losing (present company included, and couldn’t have been more inaccurate); and a small handful of folks who picked Chavez who should never…
In the end, it wasn’t a fight. After three-plus hours of pay-per-view television, it wasn’t a fight. What we got last Saturday night, somewhat by design, was a commercial for a fight between Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin in September.
It reads somewhat by design because even the best laid plans can go awry. Boxing is a unique animal. There’s always at least some risk, especially against a bigger man who has shown some power. This was well-managed risk.
This Saturday, we get the commercial rerun.
HBO will replay the fight (10:05 PM EST) and, for those who haven’t seen it yet or who really don’t like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., it’s there. For everyone else who has probably already seen the Golovkin announcement on YouTube or their Facebook page, it’s a night off.
One week later, for those who are curious, here’s how the post-fight grades come in.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Alvarez B; Chavez B-/Post: B+; C
Pre-Fight: Power – Alvarez B+; Chavez B/Post: B+; B-
Pre-Fight: Defense – Alvarez B; Chavez C-/Post: B+; F
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Alvarez A-; Chavez B-/Post: A; D+
Alvarez fought an almost perfect fight, staying in his game plan and beating the hell out of Chavez. He couldn’t miss Chavez for the most part; Jr.’s defense was basically to back away. Chavez gets a higher mark in intangibles if only because of how much he absorbed.
Alvarez hit him with just about everything he had and Chavez didn’t go anywhere. He took a beating the likes of which must have reminded his father of the night he busted up Hector Camacho. Intangibles might have been even if a little higher if Chavez has dug in and thrown punches.
It was hard to fathom. Chavez was taking a beating either way. From the outside looking in, it’s hard not to wonder why one wouldn’t take that beating in service of laying out. Worst-case scenario, Chavez would have been stopped. That just hastens the punishment. That might have taken a mental focus before the fight Chavez simply couldn’t generate.
So we revisit the night on the eve of the replay here, and not to bury it. Oh, sure, the fight stunk. It was a one-man show grown tedious by the end. Those aren’t fun to watch. Fans who felt like they didn’t get their money’s worth are certainly justified.
The idea that those same fans are ‘done’ or felt abused by this show is what needs more conversation. This was not the first time a pay show was used as a commercial for a bigger pay show. Alvarez’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, did it twice in the 2000s. He fought a shot Yori Boy Campas one out from the Shane Mosley rematch and Felix Sturm to get ready for Bernard Hopkins.
The latter turned into a real fight, one many still feel De La Hoya lost.
And that’s why it’s hard to understand outrage here. When fans buy a ticket to go see the Cleveland Browns and they perform in the fashion they have for most of two decades, the customer can’t act like they didn’t know it was possible.
Chavez dogged it in the biggest fight of his life before last weekend (Sergio Martinez) and several fights since. There was a chance for a disappointment here. The undercard had its moments, particularly Lucas Matthysse’s return, and was anyone not genuinely excited that the fight everyone has said they want is finally happening?
It sucks when a fight that costs seventy dollars isn’t good. But we tune in because one never knows when the next De La Hoya-Sturm might happen.
And we tune in to get an idea of where the story will go next. Next up is Alvarez-Golovkin for four belts and the lineal middleweight crown.
The commercial re-airs this weekend.
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Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]