Those fight mad Mexicans craze nothing better than a fistic fiesta to brighten up their national Cinco de Mayo holiday and this year they’re treated to a tasty looking catchweight civil war between the nation’s two most popular active fighters.
Culican’s Julio Cesar Chavez Jr enters the ring at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas next weekend with a significant sway in natural size, a CV that lists just two reverses in 54 gigs and the genes of Mexico’s greatest ever ring gladiator (father Julio Snr).
Nevertheless, bookmakers are enlisting his Guadalajara rival Saul’ Canelo’ Alvarez as the overwhelming 11-2 on fancy, and trade insiders agreed that the odds setters had it spot on, when Glynn Evans polled them for their predictions.
Adam Booth (London manager-coach)
I’m with ‘Canelo’. He’s too polished; better in every department. The only advantage Chavez brings is size and that should help make it competitive. I expect a very good fight, especially up close. Chavez is the bigger fella so I’m not sure that ‘Canelo’ stops him but Alvarez has operated at the higher grade and will just be too good.
Tommy Langford (British Middleweight Champion)
It’s a very interesting fight. I think ‘Canelo’ wins – all the hype’s with him - but it’ll be a lot closer than people are saying. I expect a right ‘tear up’ over the first half. I think they’ll stand and trade and Chavez might be on top but coming down from light-heavy to 164.5(lbs) is gonna hurt him. Alvarez will be a lot fresher up at 164.5 and he’s a bit cuter in close and doesn’t get hit as much - deflects a lot with his gloves – whereas Chavez gets caught clean. I think ‘Canelo’ will dominate the second half, get to Chavez late and possibly stop him.
‘Arnie’ Farnell (Manchester coach)
It’s gonna be a proper war, this, a barnstormer. I go with Chavez. I just think his size will be too much. He’s at least two divisions heavier and the pictures on social media indicate he’s already in fantastic shape. When Julio’s ‘on it’, as he was against Andy Lee, he’s really ‘on it’. He’s a tall guy who can box, but he’s also very strong inside with his short punches.
Don’t get me wrong, ‘Canelo’ is the better fighter and I’d much rather watch him. He holds every advantage bar size but I just expect Chavez will be too big. I don’t think ‘Canelo’ will have the strength to hold Julio off. I think Chavez will overwhelm Alvarez but I’m not sure he’ll stop him with all that Mexican pride on the line. They’re both very tough.
Frank Warren (Hall of Fame promoter)
It’s going to be a wonderful occasion with all the Mexican fans out on their national holiday. There’ll be a great atmosphere inside the venue and because of the prestige and bragging rights, they’ll both give every ounce.
‘Canelo’ is never in a bad fight and I sway to him just edging it. It killed him to make 154 so the additional weight will make him more comfortable and, ultimately, more dangerous.
Liam Williams (British Super-Welterweight Champion)
It won’t be easy but I’m on ‘Canelo’. Chavez is a big guy and I expect him to ‘bring it’, come out swinging. There’s a lot on the line with both being Mexicans and wanting to make an impression with their countrymen.
But Chavez has messed up the weight in the past and I expect that he’ll struggle to manage the weight properly here. ‘Canelo’ is far better skilled and brings greater variety. Unless he crashes the weight, it’ll be difficult to stop Chavez but ‘Canelo’ can win comfortably on points.
Gary Lockett (Cardiff manager-coach)
If Julio Cesar Chavez Jr turns up in shape, this is a very, very hard fight for ‘Canelo’. Chavez is a real handful but he’s his own worst enemy who sometimes can’t be bothered to train or diet. You have to question his dedication.
But, even at his best, I expect Alvarez will have a little bit too much class for Chavez. Much will depend upon how ‘Canelo’ chooses to approach it. If he goes on the attack it could be outright war but, if he opts to use his superior speed and skills, he could easily outbox Chavez. If ‘Canelo’ hits anyone on the right spot, he has the power to take them out but I think points is more probable.
Liam Smith (Ex WBO Super-Welterweight Champion)
‘Canelo’ for me. I think it’s going to be a very good fight to watch. There’ll be a lot of pride involved.
Chavez is the naturally bigger man and game as f*** but I think the ‘catchweight’ will suit ‘Canelo’ better. He’s too much variety and will hit Chavez too often and too clean. I think ‘Canelo’ stops him just after the half way mark.
Steve Collins (Ex two-weight WBO Champion)
I’m really looking forward to it cos neither back down and there’s a lot of Mexico macho involved. Those Mexican warriors are even fiercer when they’re fighting each other. It’ll be a great fight to watch.
I go with ‘Canelo’, the (physical) spit of my son, Stephen Jr! They’d pass as twins. Chavez has the ability but just doesn’t have the right mind set, mental weaknesses. He pulls out of fights and I know he drove Freddie Roach crazy with his training methods, insisting on training in the evening.
There’ll be huge pressure and, because of his greater big fight experience, I expect ‘Canelo’ will cope with that better. He’s a very, very consistent fighter and that’ll be the key here.
Peter Fury (Manchester manager-coach)
‘Canelo’. Too much speed, too much movement, too much aggression. I imagine he’ll walk away with it and possibly even stop Chavez, though a wide points win is more likely.
You’re guaranteed a great fight when its two Mexicans and I do rate Chavez. There’s no question he’s got ability – he’s plenty skilled and comes with his hands by his ears ready for battle - but his career has been too stop-start. He’d have to really lift his game here.
When fighters stand in front of ‘Canelo’ he does damage, especially with those body shots. ‘Canelo’ will be too cute, throw too many combos and will outwork him.
Alan Smith (London manager-coach)
This can’t not be a great fight to watch. You’ve two orthodox fighters who both specialise in working up close. And I go with ‘Canelo’.
Chavez Jr is seriously gifted but he plays about with the weight. He’s a full super-middleweight and the weight (reduction) will compromise him here.
‘Canelo’ has evolved into a really seasoned pro and he’s been the more active. Chavez has a granite chin so I expect it’ll go to points but all the momentum is with ‘Canelo’ here.
Barry Jones (Ex WBO Super-Featherweight Champion)
It’ll be a very good fight, guaranteed. It has to be when you have two Mexicans on Cinco de Mayo.
I go ‘Canelo’. Most seem to be of the opinion that ‘Canelo’ is conceding natural weight but I think it’ll actually be Chavez who is hit harder by this ‘catchweight’. Chavez is the naturally bigger man so will make it uncomfortable for Alvarez. Julio always gives value for money and comes to have a go but he didn’t have the greatest engine back when he was living the life so I think he’ll struggle to stay with a prime ‘Canelo’.
Alvarez is more measured, doesn’t waste much. I think it goes late but I see ‘Canelo’ getting a stoppage.
Martin Bowers (London manager-coach)
I’ll pick ‘Canelo’ but I’m not overly convinced. Chavez is top bracket on his day. He’ll try to make it a chess match and get ‘Canelo’ to become over confident and make mistakes. But eventually it’s going to come down to a right war between Mexican gladiators.
I like ‘Canelo’s’ work rate, variety of shots and all round ethic. He’s delivered on the big stage a bit more. I see it going to the wire but Alvarez will outwork him and win on points.
Bradley Skeete (British Welterweight Champion)
It should be a wicked fight with some violent exchanges because I believe they have a big rivalry.
Chavez is a waste of time. When in shape, he brings size, has a great jab and puts shots together pretty well. If he lands flush, he could cause ‘Canelo’ problems. We don’t know how well Alvarez holds a shot at a higher weight. But Chavez doesn’t live the life and doesn’t box regular. Getting down to 164 ½ here is a big ask.
‘Canelo’ will deal with getting up to that weight far easier and his speed will still be there. He’s fresher and brings all the momentum. I see him coming out on top by stoppage in the second half. I like a ginger!
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