Sparring Session in Las Vegas

A not-so-funny thing happened on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena, instead of getting a real fight between two undisputed champions, something else took place.

A sparring session.

Over 12 one-sided rounds, Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (the super middleweight ruler) dominated the junior middleweight ruler. And it wasn't so much that Alvarez won just about every round easily (118-109 twice, and 119-108), but that Charlo gave almost no effort in trying to win. 

His victory was in signing this contract and banking a career-high payday. That's the reality. 

 Picture for Sparring Session in Las Vegas
Esther Lin/Showtime Sports

Much had been made of Charlo, ''daring to be great'', which nowadays is a played out cliché' used by those who want to justify lucrative but illogical mismatches. It's not that Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KOs) is a bad fighter by any means. To the contrary, he came into this contest after winning all the belts at 154. That accomplishment alone should be respected. 

Yet, throughout the week, the lion who has roared so loudly in the past, was rather docile in the pre-fight lead up, and then downright demure during the fight. From the very first bell, Charlo backed up, and never initiated any of the action. He allowed Canelo to dictate the pace of the proceedings. He was flaccid and listless for 36 minutes.

“I just felt like I wasn’t me in there,” said Charlo. “I don’t make excuses for myself, so it is what it is. I take my punches and roll with it. It’s boxing. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”


Picture for Sparring Session in Las Vegas 

Picture for Sparring Session in Las Vegas

 Which is true, but it's the manner in which he lost that will stick with fans. There was no real effort at any juncture by Charlo to do anything else other than to go the distance. Say what you will about John Ryder, he actually pressed Alvarez and had some moments. Unlike Charlo, he lost with much more valor. Even the last remnants of Gennadiy Golovkin was more competitive than he was. 

 Charlo would sporadically throw punches, but most of them lacked any real bad intentions. They seemed to be launched out of reflex, or obligation, more than any real purpose. He was already coming in as the natural smaller boxer who was moving up two full weight classes, and a year-plus layoff.

 “Truthfully, I could feel the difference in the weight,” said Charlo. “I picked up 14 pounds. I am undisputed in my weight division. You fall short sometimes, but you just have to keep on pushing. My roll don’t stop right here. I’m proud of myself. He hit me with some hard shots. I thought I got mine off. I’m the little Charlo and I represent that.”

 All that may be valid, but his approach to the fight can't be justified. 

Picture for Sparring Session in Las Vegas
 Esther Lin/Showtime Sports

Meanwhile, Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) showed that if he's lost an inch or two off his fastball, it will still take an elite fighter on a good night to defeat him. But truth be told, Charlo never took the bat off his shoulders. The assumption is that the Mexican superstar looked solid (something I'm not denying), but he had an opponent that, as Teddy Atlas would say, ''cooperated'' with him.

Alvarez just steadily boxed his way forward, and then when he'd pin Charlo up along the ropes, would then wind up his overhand right after a jab, time and time again. At times the action was monotonous because Charlo really offered up no resistance. Alvarez punctured the high guard of Charlo in the seven with a right hand that shook up Charlo, and had him taking a knee.

“I’m a strong fighter all the time, against all the fighters,” said Canelo. “I’m a strong man. Nobody can beat this Canelo.”

Well, certainly nobody can beat that version of him, when he has a foe who is as reluctant as what he faced this past weekend. But credit to him, he did the job, and he won convincingly. As for Charlo, well, he certainly didn't heed the famous words of Herman Edwards.

He didn't play to win the game.


So who did you have winning the bout between Erickson Lubin and Jesus Ramos?....It looks like the end of the road for Yordenis Ugas, who was defeated by Mario Barrios....Say whatever you want about the physical disadvantages that Terence Crawford will have against Canelo, but I can't imagine him performing in the manner that Charlo did.... As a fan, do you feel ripped off by Charlo and his effort?....Will Lincoln Riley ever field a team with a stout defense?....I can be reached at