Light Heavyweight, a Bridge too far for Canelo? (of Pride and Boxing)
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Tue, 15 Oct 2019
Middleweight/Super Middleweight titlist Saul Canelo Alvarez will attempt to accomplish what few others have successfully done before as he challenges Russian Krusher Sergey Kovalev for the latter's world light heavyweight belt on November 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
After Sugar Ray Robinson failed to do it succumbing to heat exhaustion in the latter rounds against Joey Maxim in 1952, a few had managed to accomplish the feat since then including Dick Tiger in the early 60s, Roy Jones, Jr. in the 1990s and the latest being Bernard Hopkins last decade.
Some have questioned Alvarez's motivation and intention for taking on this challenge.
They argued that he still has some unfinished business with his main rival Gennady Golovkin against whom he has had two inconclusive title fights at middleweights the past two years, a draw and a disputed split decision verdict in his favor.
Gennady Golovkin throws a right against Canelo Alvarez.
Though he has won a world title (WBC) at super middleweight, people tend to question the quality of the champion from whom he wrested the same, Rocky Fielding who has been kayoed before by current WBA super middleweight super champion Callum Smith. A fight versus Smith would have been a more logical next target for Canelo, they say.
Many people still have fresh memory of his defeat at the hands of the smaller Floyd Mayweather, Jr. though it happened many, many years ago.
It could be Canelo's overriding pride that prevailed in his latest decision to take on Kovalev two divisions above where he usually fights for years now.
As far as he is concerned, he is done with Golovkin. But his sojourn at super middleweight may not be a far enough separation he might have later realized.
And of course, he may want people to forget his forgettable showing versus Floyd Jr. eons back.
I think he has too much pride like most Mexican ring warriors.
But light heavyweight could prove to be a bridge too far for Canelo.
But then again, boxing has been as much as a battle of strength, skills and wits as it is of pride.
It is pride that moved certain fighters to do the unthinkable, even the outrageous, to face the uncertain and go headlong into the unknown.
Muhammad Ali downs George Foreman.
Back in the 70s, George Foreman, chaffing for not getting a rematch versus Muhammad Ali, fought five different fighters in one night and knocked them all out one by one. He managed to secure a title eliminator fight versus Ali clone, Jimmy Young blowing his chance with an unexpected loss in 1977. But astonishingly, he made a comeback ten years later and regained a share of the heavyweight crown by knockout over Michael Moorer. Pride did it.
In the 80s, Tommy Hearns following losses to Sugar Ray Leonard at welterweight and Marvin Hagler at middleweight, went on to fight in higher divisions, winning world titles at super welterweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight, becoming the first fighter to win world belts in four weight classes. But he would not have his full sense of personal redemption until he finally won his fifth world title at middleweight over Juan Roldan in 1988 and drew with Leonard a year later. Pride did it.
In more recent history, Floyd Mayweather, after returning from two years retirement, in a bid to reclaim his spot as top pound for pound fighter from Manny Pacquiao, fought two more times at super welterweight, first against Miguel Cotto and then against Saul Canelo Alvarez in winning world title bouts. He did it to trump Pacquiao's earlier world title victory over Antonio Margarito at the same weight class. Pride did it.
Floyd Mayweather battles Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
Pride had much to do with the eventual meeting between Floyd and Manny in 2015, won by the former on points under a curious condition where Pacquiao was suffering from a pre-existing shoulder injury.
It is pride that prodded Floyd to go after the 49-0 record of Rocky Marciano tying it against an eyebrow raising opponent in ex champion Andre Berto before retiring again later that same year.
It is pride that kept Pacquiao going after that defeat, regaining his world title with victories over Tim Bradley and Jessie Vargas and keeps him going albeit a loss to Jeff Horn with redeeming series of wins over Lucas Matthyse, Adrien Broner and most recently, erstwhile undefeated leading welterweight champion Keith Thurman.
It is pride that is now making a rematch between Floyd and Manny a distinct possibility.
And, undeniably it is pride that has also moved Canelo Alvarez to the challenge of taking on Kovalev in the bid to wìn his fourth world boxing division title, the first Mexican to achieve such in the higher weight classes.
It is a fight he hopes to win in the bid of finally setting him apart from his rival Gennady Golovkin and make people forget about his decisive defeat to Floyd.
It is a fight he hopes to win for all of the boxing world to recognize him truly as the latest boxing superstar even in the face of Manny Pacquiao's continued popularity and ring success.
And the specter of a Floyd-Pacquiao 2 which will affect his career in 2020.
But the question for now is: Will the light heavyweight prove a bridge not too far for Canelo?
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.
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