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Why Canelo Alvarez’s step up to cruiserweight is just another boxing circus act

Why Canelo Alvarez’s step up to cruiserweight is just another boxing circus act
The WBC has sanctioned a fight between Alvarez and cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu, a choreographed dance to keep the boxing consumer interested

CaneloAlvarezプレースホルダー画像’s impending move up to cruiserweight straddles the line between striving for greatness in the most ludicrous of ways, and welcoming in the adoring circus with a bench press and stilts.

承知しました, it’s audacious, commendable, 大胆不敵; all those characteristics Chris Eubank Sr talks about when constructing his ideal ‘warrior’. But isn’t it all just a bit nonsensical?

オン 31 8月 2013, Ilunga Makabu weighed in for his fight with Eric Fields at 190.75lbs. Six weeks later, Canelo challenged Floyd Mayweather for the WBC and WBA welterweight belts at 152lbs. そう, eight years ago the pair were competing 38lbs apart (two stone and 10lbs or 17.2 キログラム). However you dice it, that’s an extraordinary disparity.

It’s true that Alvarez was boiled down by Mayweather. It’s also true that at 21 years old he had room and time to fill out. But he made his debut at 139lbs, so did he really have much more mass to put on from middleweight and above?

それにもかかわらず、, Canelo has clearly now established himself as the best super-middleweight in the world. Nobody has gotten anywhere near beating him at 168lbs. His win over カレブプラント to clinch the last of the four belts had a scary inevitability about its conclusion.

Canelo stopped Caleb Plant in the 11th round of their undisputed super-middleweight fight earlier this month

So realistically now he has one of two options. Either he establishes his legacy at middleweight/super-middleweight, taking on fighters he would be the strong favourite against, like Gennady Golovkin III, Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, and David Benavidez.

または, he performs for the circus. The ringmaster – in this case the WBC – has given him the perfect introduction by sanctioning a cruiserweight clash against champion Makabu.

But the circus is not a particularly conducive route to success. Roy Jones Jr proved that when he went all the way up to heavyweight to beat John Ruiz. A remarkable achievement but one that came at a price. He was never the same fighter again.

What Alvarez is now threatening to do mirrors that somewhat, but it almost certainly comes with a far more lucrative financial reward. The freak show works. We’ve seen it time after time after time. David Haye vs Nikolai Valuev springs to mind as the big man vs littler big man clash of recent years.

The problem comes when you try to dress it up as a legitimate attempt to offer the fans the best fight possible. It isn’t. The draw is seeing a 5ft 8in, 12 stone man balloon himself up to tackle a 6ft, 14 stone world champion. And the craziest part of it all? The bit Canelo’s team don’t tell you but all unequivocally know after consulting their risk-reward charts? The little man wins.

It’s a calculated risk that Canelo is expected to come through to solidify his legacy as a five-weight world champion. That’s why Makabu is being zeroed in on and not Mairis Briedis or Lawrence Okolie – cruiserweights who would be overwhelming favourites to beat the Congolese southpaw.

ねじれないでください, Canelo is not taking an easy touch. There are far more straightforward opponents he could choose than Makabu. But it’s a choreographed dance to keep the customer interested, particularly the 99 per cent who simply look at the size difference and feel Alvarez cannot win.

Makabu is the current WBC cruiserweight champion and has been since January 2020

The same was the case when Canelo fought Callum Smith last year. There wasn’t a great deal of interest in the fight beyond the large hardcore Canelo audience we are used to. But as soon as they went face-to-face and the David vs Goliath narrative had been sown, suddenly the fact they needed a long lens for the face-off ramped up the casual appeal.

Alvarez might be the one on stage, but he knows the optics better than anyone. And he knows you’re all paying to see it.

そのうえ, nobody ever wants to stop the circus when it’s making money. That could not be any more evident than promoter Eddie Hearn’s change of tune since becoming involved with the pound-for-pound star.

When Alvarez failed a drug test for clenbuterol in 2018 and was handed a six-month suspensionwhich he claimed was the result of tainted meatHearn declared his “reputation finished in the sport”. 3年後, he is not only promoting the Mexican’s fights but also attending events he is not part of because he declares himself a “fanboy” of his “friend” Canelo.

“The media and fans are getting dumber rather than getting smarter,” former world champion Paulie Malignaggi said when asked about Canelo’s move up to cruiserweight. Alvarez has undergone all the necessary testing to be considered a clean fighter. それにもかかわらず、, it is important never to forget an athlete’s past.

In a post-Manny Pacquiao era there is a tendency for fighters to believe they need to blitz through the weight divisions in order to be considered great. The Filipino went from flyweight (112ポンド) all the way up to welterweight (147ポンド), fighting all the best in the world along the way. That’s a superhuman feat by any measure.

Alvarez now appears to be heading towards a similar path, albeit in divisions with far more dangerous punchers and thus a far higher risk. Is this what boxing has come to? Watching a generational talent reduced down to how much he is dwarfed on the scales? Are we all just waiting for him to bite off more than he can chew and be flattened by Tyson Fury? It’s not necessary.

The legendary Marvin Hagler, who passed away earlier this year, reigned supreme in the middleweight division for seven years between 1980 そして 1987. A Hall of Fame fighter that didn’t mess around with ants or dinosaurs.

This is a crossroads moment now in Canelo’s career. で 31 年齢, he can clean out all the middleweights and super-middleweights who are begging for boxing’s biggest payday. And in the process he can establish himself as unequivocally one of the all-time greats.

But this is boxing. So good luck, Ilunga.