Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez vs Juilo Cesar Chavez Jr sees old meet new in Mexican clash that probably shouldn't happen

One of the best fighters in the world in Canelo takes on the man who looked destined to be Mexico's next great hope, only to fall short of his father's unrivalled legacy

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The Independent Online

As the celebrations of Cinco de Mayo reverberate around Mexico and through the rest of the world, sporting eyes now turn towards an all-Mexican boxing clash tonight in Las Vegas where past potential meets a current crusader.

Although just five years apart in age, Saul Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr reflect different eras of Mexican boxing, even down to their own backgrounds in the sport. Alvarez made his professional debut in 2005 at the age of just 15, and after a relatively unheralded beginning which included a draw in his fifth fight, emerged as a bonafide star towards the end of 2011.

The 26-year-old won his first world title at 21, and has achieved notable victories over the likes of Shane Mosely, Alfredo Angulo, Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto and James Kirkland. Alvarez fights with the heart and soul of classic Mexican fighters of yore, but has also incorporated a more American style in recent bouts. He has also developed a reputation as a Brit-basher, with a clutch of recent wins over Liam Smith and Amir Khan bookended by earlier victories against Ryan Rhodes and Matthew Hatton.

And for all of his achievement inside the ring, the cinnamon swirled golden boy has also become a success outside of the squared circle too. Few boxers in history have earned more than Alvarez, and his range of endorsement deals and business interests has seen him transcend the sport. Even his lone professional defeat failed to derail his career, because let’s face it, losing to Floyd Mayweather as a 22-year-old is no disgrace at all.

Could all of Alvarez’s success have belonged to his opponent tonight? It’s possible. The son of Mexico’s most successful fighter ever, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr has been battling criticism ever since his own debut in 2003. Whatever he did, nothing quite matched up to his famous father. Chavez Sr went undefeated in his first 90 fights, which Jr ‘only’ managed 47 fights without defeat before falling to Sergio Martinez in 2012.

It’s a testament to just how much people wanted Chavez Jr to carry on the dynasty his name represented that his career has been viewed as a disappointment despite winning the WBC middleweight title in 2011. He hasn’t helped himself though. For too long, Chavez has been defined by ill-discipline, by drug test failures and weigh-in disasters. Too much weed, too much food and not enough effort.

The 31-year-old has fought just five times since September 2012, hasn’t stopped anyone since June 2012, and has lost two of his last five bouts. Nepotism is a powerful entity however, and the lure of celebrity still lingers long in the mentality of believers. Such was the adoration of Chavez Sr that there are some, however dwindling, that still hold belief that the younger Chavez still has it in him to create that one iconic moment to make believing in him worthwhile.

Everything you need to know

What time does the show start? 2am

What time is the main event? 4am

What TV channel is it on? Boxnation and BT Sport from 2am

In competitive terms, this fight really shouldn’t be happening considering the recent form of both men, but sometimes the story matters more than what came before. The bout will be contested at a catchweight of 164.5 pounds, which both men made last night. Canelo is used to competing at the weight, while concerns over Chavez Jr’s ability to make weight resulted in a threatened fine of $1m for each pound he weighed in over. Luckily for the fans, and his bank balance, he made the weight and avoided the financial punishment.

Alvarez will have a sizeable height and reach disadvantage tonight, but has proved in the past that he can deal with bigger opponents. At his best Chavez Jr used to find a way to rough up opponents by using bruising physicality and at times, surprisingly deft shots, but the last time he looked better than ordinary was over half a decade ago.

The bookmakers have Alvarez a significant 2/11 favourite, with Chavez Jr a 6/1 underdog. If the weight loss and inactivity hasn’t hindered the older man too much, there is a chance his physicality can cause Alvarez some problems, but if as expected his languidity becomes apparent once more, then expect this to end sometime in the mid to late rounds.

Undefeated pair Joseph Diaz and Manuel Avila battle on the undercard, while there are also ticking over fights for David Lemieux and Lucas Matthysse.