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Merchant Doesn't See Canelo Ready For Mayweather Clash

By Chris Robinson

It was a little over a year ago that I first started corresponding with veteran HBO color analyst Larry Merchant. In the twelve months since we have kept an ongoing column running between us while touching on several mainstream topics in the sport.
Merchant has always shown a great appreciation towards WBC junior middleweight titlist Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, even stating in early December of last year that he would one day be interested in seeing the Mexican star face off with Manny Pacquiao if he progressed properly. But while Alvarez has continued to win in commanding fashion, reeling off three wins in 2011, the latest being his 5th round stoppage over Kermit Cintron this past weekend, Merchant doesn’t seem as eager to see the 21-year immediately jump into the fire.
 
Following his victory over Cintron, Alvarez was quick to tell Max Kellerman that he was ready for a fight against undefeated superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr., who is penciled in to be making his return to the sport in May following his September 17th knockout over Victor Ortiz. Alvarez was sure to point out that his motives in pursuing that fight were based on testing himself against the world’s best as opposed to simply chasing a paycheck.

Another name connected to Alvarez is that of his countryman Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the son of the legend with the same name. Chavez is coming off of his first defense of his middleweight title earlier this month as he stopped former contender Peter Manfredo in Houston, Texas, and there has always been some intrigue in a clash between he and ‘Canelo’.
 
In our latest piece, Merchant reveals his thoughts towards Alvarez’s uncanny abilities as a fighter, why he doesn’t see him as being on the level of stars such as Pacquiao and Mayweather quite yet, how Chavez Jr. fits into the equation, and much more.
 
This is what Larry had to say…

Waiting for Saul Alvarez’s crossover appeal…
“I first saw him when he was nineteen and it’s his sense of poise in the ring, his sense of knowing who he is. And his sense of, this kind of seamless ability to switch from offense to defense and defense to offense when it’s to his advantage. He can step up the pace when he senses his opponent’s weakness. As I’ve said before, he’s as a complete a young fighter as I’ve seen in a long time. He’s terrific to watch now but whether he turns out to be a great fighter or a crossover fighter or a fighter who can compete at the highest level, we will find out. But for right now, he’s just about as good as it gets.”

Recounting his muses towards Alvarez vs. Pacquiao, from last year…
“My feeling, he is and was a little too overenthusiastic. It’s a question of timing, of if he will be around long enough to fight a Pacquiao. I was concerned that he might outgrow Pacquiao and maybe he has. Before Pacquiao was ready to pack it in, so to speak. He’s now a full-blown junior middleweight and Pacquiao’s a small welterweight. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t fight, particularly if he gets to the point where he’s such a major attraction that it becomes a super fight in terms of its drawing ability. But he isn’t there yet. He’ s not even a crossover in the sense that he’s as well known in the U.S. and elsewhere as he is in Mexico, where he is already a big star. It took Pacquiao quite a while in fighting elite fighters over and over before he became that. Before he fought De La Hoya in fact. Whether he can achieve that or not remains to be seen.”

Alvarez calling for a showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr….
“I’m not sure. He hasn’t done anything like that before. Usually it’s because his management has put him up to it. Maybe they think that since they both fight for the same promoter, that it could be a major pay day there. Just think of it this way. Mayweather called out De La Hoya five or six years before he fought him. It doesn’t mean that they will fight next.”

What Alvarez brings to the table against Mayweather that other opponents haven’t…
“He’s a naturally bigger kid. I mean, he’s 21-years old and he’s just a natural at this weight. So he’s naturally stronger. That doesn’t mean everything but it can’t hurt him. The issue is always going to be how well he copes with a punch with a fighter on a skill-level of a Mayweather. You don’t know those things until they happen but he may be one of those fighters who is fully formed or mature at a very young age. Which it looks like he was since he was in his teens."

Comparing Alvarez to Fernando Vargas…
“Some fighters mature early. Maybe [Fernando] Vargas also matured early. Vargas was a kid who was physically very mature at a very young age. Was very advanced at a young age. Had big fights at a young age and retired at a young age and made a lot of money when he was fighting. Is he that guy or is he better? Nobody can be sure. Nobody can be sure he’s as good. I think he’s maybe got a better skill-level. He’s not afraid to be defensive when he has to be and it’s still either a work in progress or it’s a work that’s fully matured and we won’t know until he fights the top fighters.”

Chavez Jr.’s recent victory over Peter Manfredo…
“I thought he did a very good job against Manfredo. He showed some patience and some willingness to box as well as to impose himself physically when the opportunity was there. I thought it was a very good performance. I think that some people think he’s getting to be a better fighter than they originally thought he would be. Because he was basically fighting as a professional, doing his internship without having had an amateur background.”

The fascination of an Alvarez-Chavez Jr. fight…
“So it’s certainly fascinating to see them both starting to mature and excite fans at roughly the same time. Whether they should fight now or wait, that’s a fight that will always be able to be made, which means for several years. Whether either side wants to risk the fight right now, I don’t know. [Bob] Arum is making it sound like he really doesn’t want the fight even though Chavez is a naturally bigger kid than Alvarez. I mean he comes into the mid to high 170’s and will outweigh Alvarez at this point ten to fifteen pounds the night of the fight. I don’t know if that becomes a barrier to making the fight in the foreseeable future or the immediate future or whether they fight and make so much money now that their managements don’t want to risk that kind of fight now. But it’s great to have two young fighters and to think about it.”

[Reader's note: Continue on for the latest images from the boxing world Photo-journalist Chris Robinson captures the boxing world / HBO's 24/7 Cotto-Margarito, part 2 ]

Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by SkyKng on 11-30-2011

canelo to me, looks similar to victor ortiz but with a different style..

Comment by StrangerInTown on 11-30-2011

At 21, Mike Tyson could take on any man in the Heavyweight division. He had the goods. He was the immaculate perception of a prizefighter. Canelo's most competeitive test was Alphonso Gomez. He won't even push for Chavez Jr. but…

Comment by Bushbaby on 11-30-2011

Does it take a rocket scientist to figure this 1 out, I don't think so. One simply does not go from beating bums, to beating one of the best fighters in the sport, period.

Comment by BlackMessiahX on 11-30-2011

Merchant is shot and senile time to retire old man i just dnt think he wants to see Canelo lose

Comment by komandante on 11-30-2011

Some may not like Larry Merchant but personally I think he's an authority and most a legend in boxing which I dearly respect...:boxing:

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (13)
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