It's been a solid year for boxing that has seen a consistent schedule of major bouts. This Saturday night from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez puts his undisputed super middleweight championship on the line against undisputed junior middleweight king, Jermell Charlo.
Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) doesn't just have to contend with moving up two full weight classes, but another trend that has been very evident in 2023.
Boxers who are come into these significant bouts with more than a year off from the ring are getting beat. And handily, at that.
Back in June, Josh Taylor, who had last boxed in February of 2022(winning a controversial decision against Jack Catterall), was decisively beaten for his junior welterweight title by Teofimo Lopez. Lopez was competing in his third bout in a 10 month span.
Then in late July, Stephen Fulton, who was on a 13 month layoff, was never really competitive as he got stopped in eight by Naoya Inoue for his two belts at 122.
Several days later, Terence Crawford knocked out Errol Spence for the undisputed welterweight crown in 10. Spence had not seen live action since April of the previous year.
courtesy of Showtime Sports
So yeah, activity matters. You are either sharpening the blade, or letting it get dull.
But to be fair, activity is a variable. It's something but not everything. The trio of Taylor, Fulton and Spence didn't just lose because they were sidelined. The fact that they also face the very best in the sport certainly had a lot to do with their outcomes.
Yet, you could state that they did themselves no favors by being so inactive and then facing an elite fighter right off the bat.
As we look ahead to this weekend, Charlo has not boxed since May 14 of 2022, when he vanquished Brian Castano to capture the final missing belt from his collection at 154.
Esther Lin/Showtime Sports
On the flipside, Alvarez has been much busier by comparison. He lost to Dmitry Bivol the week before Charlo-Castano II, before finishing out his trilogy with Gennadiy Golovkin last September, and then defeating John Ryder this past May.
So based on what has been stated, Canelo looks like the obvious choice. But we talk about variables, while the Mexican superstar is just 33, keep this in mind, he has 63 bouts (59-2-2, 39 KOs) under his belt in a career that began at age 15. There are a lot of miles on his odometer.
courtesy of Matchroom Sports
There were more than just a few whispers that he had lost an inch or two off his fastball after the Ryder victory. It's safe to assume that Alvarez is now on his physical descent as a fighter, which is only natural.
So with all this, can Charlo buck this trend?
OK, so who am I picking?
I still like the tangibles and intangibles with Alvarez. Not only with what I mentioned above, but the fact that this is still the first true big event that Charlo has ever been involved in.
It's one thing to be involved in championship fights, but when you face a guy like Alvarez for the first time, it's different. I also get the sense that Alvarez is a bit more motivated for this particular fight than he was for Ryder.
While Charlo will be the quicker, twitchier athlete in there, he's not as elusive as Canelo. It will be interesting to see how Charlo reacts to getting hit by a legitimate super middleweight. Alvarez has shown he has a world-class chin between 168 and 175.
And while he may not be that guy he was from 2018-2020, Alvarez is still very much among the elite in the sport.
I'll take Alvarez in nine.
This week on 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' Mario Lopez and I are joined by Jim Lampley, who spoke on a variety of subject, including Alvarez-Charlo. Click on the Linktree to subscribe on your preferred podcast platform:
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