It didn’t take long for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 knockouts) to schedule his next fight. As a matter of fact, Mexico’s new unified middleweight champion has been quite busy since defeating Gennady Golovkin by majority decision in their much anticipated rematch back in September. For starters, he’s been appearing at events and making the media rounds since his big win. Then earlier this month he announced when his next fight will be, where it will be, and who it will be against.
Canelo actually surprised the boxing world with his announcement. It won’t be a third fight with Golovkin (not yet anyway), and it won’t be against any other middleweight contenders. He’s actually moving up in weight for his next bout and it’ll be against someone who is mostly unknown to North American boxing fans. On December 15th, Alvarez will be making his debut at New York’s Madison Square Garden to challenge England’s Rocky Fielding for his WBA super middleweight title.
While this will be Fielding’s (27-1, 15 knockouts) first fight against a Mexican boxer, this will be his third fight overall against a North American opponent (defeated U.S. fighters Brian Vera and Patrick Maxwell earlier in his career). But this will also be his North American debut as all of his previous fights were in the United Kingdom against mostly European competition. This will also be a major step up in competition for him as he has never fought an opponent of Alvarez’s caliber and star power. Some say Fielding is foolish for taking this fight but you have to give him credit for giving it a shot.
Because of the odds against Fielding, many are expecting this to be a walk in the park for Alvarez. But this fight should be taken a little more seriously and here’s why…..
For starters, this will be the first of 11 fights on Canelo’s new “television” deal. Nearly two weeks ago, Alvarez signed a 5-year, $365 million deal with the streaming service DAZN that’s been taking boxing media by storm since it’s debut earlier this year. This comes on the heels of former long-time TV partner HBO announcing that they plan on ending their 45 years of boxing coverage at the end of 2018. This turned out to be one of the richest contracts in all of professional sports, and there’s always pressure when it comes to living up to these mega-contracts so Canelo must continue to perform at high level but under a thinner microscope now.
Let’s also remember that Alvarez will stepping into his fourth weight class for this fight. He started his career at welterweight, so for this fight he’ll have to weigh between 161 pounds and 168 pounds, the heaviest of his professional career. How adding that weight will impact him in the ring remains to be seen. Fielding on the other hand has been fighting in this weight class for almost his entire eight-year professional career.
Then there’s the historical significance of Alvarez looking for a world title in a third weight class. Before collecting belts at middleweight, Canelo made his name as a junior middleweight champion. If he defeats Fielding in December he’ll join some fellow countrymen in Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Jorge Arce, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Erik Morales on the list of Mexican-born boxers to win world championships in three or more weight classes. That’s quite the list to put your name on.
As overmatched as Fielding may be, he is eager to get in the ring with Alvarez. He wants to prove himself on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, and you have to give him credit for wanting to prove himself against one of the world’s best. Add the quality of opponent and mix in the fact that MSG -The World’s Most Famous Arena- is the venue, and that can motivate any athlete in any sport. This fight could be worth watching.
I’m not saying that Alvarez will dominate this fight, but I’m not saying that Fielding will pull off the upset either. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t totally sleep on this fight. Some may consider it just a cash grab, but we may actually get something worth watching regardless of who wins.