Saturday, 17 September 2016 20:01

Canelo Alvarez: Weight gain bully uses egregious tactics to bulldoze foes

For the past three years prior to the Smith fight, Canelo Alvarez held sway over his own castle-in-air division at 155 lbs. located comfortably between the junior middleweight and middleweight classes.

That is to say that he resided in the oasis of the ‘Canelo-weight class’ a mere pound north of the 154 limit where he had fought since 2011. It would seem that the shedding of that last pound had become far too excruciating an ordeal for Alvarez, a fact that can easily be evidenced by reviewing how starkly the Mexican fighter’s emaciated form at weigh-ins contrasts with his bulkily-sculpted fight night physique.

Fighters routinely use a slew of diuretics in order to drop ‘water weight’ and scale in on the slim side of a weight class’s prescribed limit. Post weigh-in rehydration allows a fighter to regain that lost poundage.

Now, while this is nothing new, it could be argued that in occupying a divisional-straddling catch-weight haven at 155 pounds, Alvarez had for years created the illusion of an even playing field.

For, though he drained down to make his self-accommodating limit, his youth had allowed him to hyper-rehydrate to a fight night state in which he exhibited a tremendous advantage in body mass over his sometimes far smaller opponents.

Let us consider Alvarez’s rehydration rates for bouts where his fight night weight was recorded (Alvarez has avoided stepping on HBO’s unofficial scales in his more recent bouts). In his 2013 bout with Austin Trout set at a catch-weight of 153.5 lbs. Alvarez made weight and then ballooned up to a reported 172 lbs. on fight night.

When Alvarez fought Alfredo Angulo at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in March, 2014 the match was set at a catch-weight of 155 lbs. Alvarez again made weight and then rehydrated to a reported 174 lbs. on the night of the fight.

The trend is clear: Alvarez weighs in at a sub-middleweight level and then rehydrates to a near-light heavyweight mass before stepping in the ring.

This dramatic overnight size increase undoubtebly gives Alvarez an uncanny edge over his opponents both in terms of punch resistance and power.

In fact, an ESPN ‘Sports Science’ segment found that Alvarez had gained an average of 14.75 pounds during the thirty-hour gap between the weigh-in and fight night in his last four fights prior to the Cotto bout.

ESPN Sports Science host John Brenkus also stated that Alvarez’s 15-pound bulk up could enhance his punching power by ten percent, thereby allowing him to generate strike impacts of up to a half-ton of force.

In his blockbuster HBO pay-per-view bout with Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas this past November, the massive-shouldered Alvarez dwarfed Cotto and had the Puerto Rican veteran circling onthe back foot for most of the fight. After the bout, Cotto’s trainer Freddie Roach estimated that Alvarez had packed on 30 pounds since the weigh-in, thereby rehydrating to a hypothetical 185 pounds.

Whatever the actual fight night weight differential was, the larger Mexican fighter’s size advantage clearly gave him an aura of invincibility in the ring. It seemed that Cotto’s hardest shots pitter-pattered off the bulldozer-like Alvarez harmlessly.

In a March interview with Fight Hype, Alvarez was queried about his exorbitant fight-night weights, his response was terse to say the least:

“People can say whatever they want. I’m going to go up whatever weight makes me feel comfortable...if I go up to 180, 190, it doesn’t matter...it’s my problem and it’s my prerogative.”

As reported by Boxing Scene, an unabashed Alvarez told ESPN Deportes the following: “I climb into the ring at whatever weight that’s going to give me the win, whether it’s 180 or 190 pounds-if I think it’s the appropriate (weight) for me on the day of the fight.”

These blurbs illustrate that Alvarez’s A-side sense of entitlement verges on megalomania as catch-weights were initially proposed as a tool for preventing mismatches, not for capitalizing on them to score a sham victory. Alvarez’s most recent opponent is a case in point. This past May, Alvarez vanquished British former light welterweight champion Amir Khan with a bazooka-like right hand in the 6th round.

The fight, which had been marketed as ‘Speed vs Power’, should have been billed as ‘Expect Overkill’, as Khan, a 147-pounder at the time, had been knocked out twice in his pro career by men significantly smaller than Alvarez.  The British star was widely regarded as a lightning-quick, but buoyant-fisted puncher with a transparent chin, yet Alvarez chose to defend his middleweight titles against him at a 155-pound catch-weight.

After being brutally knocked out by Alvarez at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Khan described the in-the-ring weight disparity as he experienced it to Boxing Scene thusly: “I probably walked into the ring at 161, 162 pounds. I tried to eat and put more weight on but for some reason I just couldn’t. Canelo must have been around 180 pounds, he’s a big dude."

"Even when I was hitting him, I could see he wasn’t moving or wasn’t hurt or anything. I jumped up too high, I didn’t expect Canelo to be that big.”

When a ‘natural 154-pounder’ is coming in at a weight that verges on cruiserweight territory to fight a blown-up former junior welterweight the integrity of this sport is stretched to carnivalesque levels of absurdity.

These flagrant weight-bullying tactics underscore the fact that Alvarez clearly covets fights with undersized boxers. The Mexican star has ever been a Goliath in search of a new wee David. And though he has yet to square off with Liam Smith, Alvarez and his team have already expressed interest in facing Manny Pacquiao, should the two of them emerge victorious in the bouts before them this fall.

Perhaps it is the best we can hope for in this new era of manufactured stars and promotional mollycoddling.

 

 

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