Canelo vs. Khan: Street Fighters & Trump

By Rudy Mondragon
Twitter: @boxingintellect

It was recently announced that Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) will be challenging the WBC middleweight champion, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) on May 7, 2016 at the brand new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. This will be the first time in recent years that Floyd Mayweather Jr. will not headline a Cinco De Mayo fight weekend.

The announcement of this fight has brought on great debate from all corners. Canelo is the middleweight champion, yet some question that title because he has not fought anyone at the 160 lbs limit. Rather, he has engaged in contracted bouts at a max weight of 155lbs. Not a true middleweight champion in the eyes of some boxing fans and experts.

Another critique is that Canelo is taking on a smaller opponent rather than fighting someone his own size. Khan has not fought north of 147 lbs and only has 3 fights at the welterweight division. Although he possesses great skill and speed, one powerful punch can take the challenger out as we have seen in the past (see Prescott and Garcia).

One thing is for sure, Khan and Canelo are big names in mainstream boxing with strong followings from Mexico and the UK. The styles these two possess will make this fight exciting. The possibilities of Khan being knocked out as well as Khan outboxing Canelo make this fight worth tuning in for.

What I found interesting however, were some of the tweets that made their rounds through Twitter immediately following the announcement of this fight.

@BoxingLegal came across a tweet that featured a cartoon image of Blanka versus Dhalsim from the classic video game Street Fighter. The photo was an attempt to poke fun of the racial and ethnic dimensions of this fight. Blanka, representing the Brazilian beast and savage and Dhalsim representing the stereotypical dark skinned Indian yogi. The photo has since been removed from twitter and the twitter user seems to have canceled their account.

Ironically, Canelo’s light skin and good looks distance him from being read as a savage beast (which many Mexicans, especially darker skin Mexicans, are labeled and read as such) and draws him closer to whiteness. In Khan’s case, the stereotypical representation is completely inaccurate given his Pakistani roots and Islamic background. I’m sure @BoxingLegal’s handbook found this and more in regards to the image being a racist representations of the two boxers.

Blanka vs

I also found it necessary to discuss one of Dan Rafael’s (@danrafaelespn) tweets regarding #CaneloKhan. Rafael was clearly excited about the match up. In an effort to show his excitement in a humorous way, he tweeted “Channeling my inner @realDonaldTrump: #CaneloKhan is going to be yuuuuuuuuuge!”

I understand that tweets are limited to 140 characters. It is no excuse however, to tweet something without recognizing the implications of the references made in one’s tweet. Rafael’s tweet leaves out the politics of a hyper-conservative and xenophobic billionaire politician. The reality is, based on numerous Trump interviews and speeches, Donald would actually not think this is “yuuuuuuuge!”

Wait, let me take a step back. Trump would only think this is a big deal if it meant money in his pockets or was comped front row seats to watch a violent spectacle between a Mexican and Muslim. In all honesty, Trumps views construct Canelo as a criminal immigrant threat to this country and Khan as an Islamic enemy that is a hazard to this world.

Let me just say, Dan Rafael does great work and I love following his coverage of boxing. However, I do think it is necessary to unpack tweets and images that ascribe to racial stereotypes as well as linking a boxing match to a problematic figure like Donald Trump. After all, the boxing world is a microcosm of the larger society. The connections are endless and through writings and conversations, we can connect the dots to see how the sport cannot escape the social, cultural, and political realities of the times.

Canelo vs Cotto: Prediction Edition


Jarrett Bato 

It’s refreshing to have a fight like this come at a time of the year when nostalgia hits the hardest. As the year comes to a close, we humans naturally contemplate of the days that have gone by and why our current reality doesn’t quite match it. That’s why Cotto taking the challenge of Canelo is very important for the sport, and will cement Cotto’s legacy as one of the greatest that ever stepped in the ring.

There’s almost no advantage given to any of the boxers on the signing of this fight. Cotto could have easily given himself an advantage in the weight limit, but the fight is set at 155, which is still easily made for Canelo, though probably still more difficult for Canelo compared to Cotto. The A-side/B-side mental game that Cotto sometimes wallows in has no effect to Canelo, who is of the new generation of boxers that doesn’t accept that the house poses any underlying advantage to any fighter. On paper, it seems that the fight is at an even keel, given the richer experience of Cotto versus the raw and still-blooming talent of Canelo.

I think the key to this fight will be preparation, where here Cotto has the advantage. Cotto has never been shy to make big changes that are needed, and that’s truly the mark of experience and ring generalship, and I believe there couldn’t be any better team behind him than Team Freddie Roach. I think Freddie will bring an excellent game plan to the fight that will expose some of Canelo’s tendencies ala Ronda Rousey, because Canelo has honestly been exploiting his natural talents with little evolution fight to fight.

However, Canelo has demonstrated the ability to evolve as the fight goes on with the one thing he has improved, which is his endurance. With his newfound endurance, he’s able to focus longer, improvise longer, and pull out majestic combinations exploiting new holes in his opponent that weren’t obvious in his earlier fights that went longer than 5 rounds because he’s been too gassed to see them. If Canelo indeed puts 100% focus on Cotto he might just pull off the upset.

But that’s what it will be, an upset compared to the potential perfect game plan. #warcotto, UD

Prediction: Cotto by unanimous decision 

Rudy Mondragon (Twitter: @boxingintellect)

I have dedicated a great deal of time thinking about the outcome of this fight. My heart says Miguel Cotto, but my studies tell me Saul Canelo Alvarez will emerge as the victor.

Since hooking up with Freddie Roach, many have said that Cotto is a new and improved boxer. I agree, to an extent. Cotto has had his ups and downs. Many thought he was done after his loss to Austin Trout in December 2012.

Since then, Cotto has been under the watchful eye of Roach and has won three straight. Two of his three wins have come off worthy opponents. Cotto beat Sergio Martinez in June 2014 and Daniel Geale a year later. A closer look at those two opponents however, reveal serious discrepancies. Martinez had 2 bad knees and was inches away from retirement. Geale was drained at the weigh-in and looked similar to the many zombies that appear on the Walking Dead.

Based on those two victories, I can’t confidently say that Miguel Cotto is a new and improved fighter. After all, how much can a fighter learn from a new trainer this late into their career? However, I do believe that Cotto is inspired by Roach and has a great deal of faith in him. This makes Cotto’s corner a dangerous one when it comes to strategy and game plan.

At age 25, Canelo is younger and hungry for what Cotto has. Although Canelo is the favorite to win this fight, it is Cotto who has the A-Side power. Miguel Cotto will earn $15 million for this fight, while Canelo will take $5 million. Not a bad pay day by any means, but Canelo wants to continue building his legacy. In order to establish himself as an all-time great however, he needs to take down the experienced Miguel Cotto, who serves as Canelo’s gatekeeper.

Canelo is not the best boxer and in this fight, he will emerge as the combination puncher that will chase Cotto down. Canelo will cut the ring and take some of Miguel’s punches in order to land power shots of his own. At age 35, Cotto will not be able to put together a complete fight. A complete fight requires Cotto to land 1-2 punch combinations and quickly circle left and right. Cotto will not land power punches. This is too dangerous for Cotto because it means sitting down on his punches, leaving him vulnerable to Canelo power combinations. Eventually, Cotto will tire and Canelo will be able to catch him more frequently. Cotto bruises and bleeds easily. By the 8th or 9th round, expect to see Cotto’s face visibly marked. My prediction is that Canelo will trap Cotto in a corner or on the ropes and stop him in the 11th round.

My heart is with Cotto and I hope I am wrong with my prediction. I just don’t see the younger and hungry Canelo losing this fight. There is too much on the line for him. Canelo has graduated from the defeat he had against Mayweather. This will be reflective tomorrow night as Canelo will pull the trigger and take successful risks in his quest to take down the future hall of famer.

Prediction: Canelo by 11th round stoppage 

Check out the video collaborations between Blood Money Boxing’s Rudy Mondragon and In My Humble’s Pierre Banks:


And The Winner GBP! Post Canelo vs. Lara

By Rudy Mondragon

In a close fight on Saturday July 12, 2014, Erislandy Lara took on the young Saul Canelo Alvarez. In a fight where many boxing heads knew Canelo had the political power and the backing of a power house promotion company,  the edge would no doubt favor the Mexican fighter.

When the scores were read and the winner was announced, Jimmy Lennon Jr. misread the script.  It wasn’t Canelo who won the fight, it was Golden Boy Promotions (GBP) who in reality won on this night. Continuing to milk their cash cow, GBP rely on Canelo to bring them big bucks, especially in light of recent struggles after having lost their effective CEO, Richard Schaffer.

Do not get me wrong, there were things that Canelo did well on this night. He was aggressive, he did not allow Lara to counter effectively as he is used to, and his stamina and energy looked better than usual. Canelo however, was also ineffective in his aggression as many of his power shots missed wildly and the power shots connected lacked accuracy or were blocked by Lara. His most effective punch was the uppercut that drew a cut in Lara.

When asked about the fight, Canelo stated that Lara was running and that he should have ran a marathon. In the background, you see Oscar De La Hoya smiling and laughing. Ask Oscar however, if he felt like he was ‘running’ the night he was robbed against Tito Trinidad.

Lara on the other hand controlled the ring (ring generalship), drew Canelo into a chasing match, dictated the tempo, connect cleaner punches, and executed better defense. Had Lara  been busier, Dave Moretti probably would have also given Lara the decision. At this point disregard Levi Martinez (117-111 for Canelo) as either Golden Boy Promotions were in his pockets, he didn’t pay attention to the fight, he had made up his mind before the fight started, or all of the above.

Respect for Canelo. No doubt about. He is 23 years old, already has multiple PPV events, and he comports himself very professionally. Shame on Golden Boy Promotions for putting him in their with the wolves early in his career and selling a false narrative that Canelo in the present is elite. He is not. For starters, this fighter is not even listed in the top ten P4P lists. He is a good fighter who still has a long way to go.

What is the point of putting Canelo in there against a wise, skillful, and athletic elite boxer in Floyd Mayweather back in 2013. The answer is simple: MONEY. Did Canelo learn much from that fight. Not so much, at least it didn’t show on July 12. What is the point of putting Canelo in there with a good boxer in Lara? This question depends on the actions that Canelo and his team make from this point on. From this fight, to me two things are clear: 1) Canelo is a one dimensional fighter who needs to get rid of the bad habit of swinging for the fences and 2) something that the BMB team has discussed for years now, Canelo needs to drop his training staff and move on with a new team.

My suggestion, hire Robert Garcia! Robert is a training who adapts to his individual fighters and can meet his fighters where they are. He is a trainer who lets you know of your bad habits and can help you heal from them. Look at the work he has done with Mikey Garcia and Marcos Maidana. Robert know’s he can’t change a fighter, but he can provide additional tools for them. At Canelo’s young age, working with Robert presents more learning opportunities than dead ends his current team offers.

Since money and false stories are created in boxing by power house promotional companies, it is important to raise these question: Has Canelo peaked? We need to look at this question and be honest. Has Canelo learned all he can from the sport or does he have intellectual room to grow? Can he add to his boxing repertoire or is this all Canelo brings to the ring?

When asked if he was outgrowing the 154lbs limit, Canelo said he intended to stay put. Smart move by a man who knows that the 160lbs is a danger zone that he intends to stay away from. Evidence like this and the fact that Saturday’s fight was at a catch-weight of 155lbs informs me that Canelo is struggling to make 154lbs and that he wants to stay in this weight class for as long as he can because he knows very well that every time he steps into the ring, he will be the bigger and stronger man.

In the end, Lara deserves a rematch that he will never get. He will continue to look for a big pay day that might come his way, but not any time soon. Canelo will go on to most likely face Cotto. With two fighters who each consider themselves the A Side, it will be interesting to see how the negotiation process goes down. Will it be in New York? Las Vegas? Will there be a catch-weight? Who will be announced first? Will they honor the fact that Miguel Cotto is the current WBC Middleweight champion? Time will tell.

*NOTE: For those who want to rewatch the fight, make sure you watch it in mute, so that all the cheers for all the Canelo misses do not influence your take on the July 12th 2014 winner.

Weekend Review: Toe-to-Ass

The following is a double-header review from our BMB family about this weekend’s pay-per-view fight card that the intern and I watched through our neighbor’s window, figuratively speaking (wink-wink).
toe to ass
The night did not start well for the Canelo Alvarez camp, as his older brother simply was outclassed by journeyman Sergio Thompson with very simple combinations to the body and head, and by Thompson’s overall work-rate, an impressive late addition to the fight card due to immigration issues.
The second card shimmered as the talented Jorge Linares, previously a Freddie Roach protege, pulled off beautiful combinations to the head and body of Nihito Arakawa, the light-fisted, indestructable man from Japan. To me, it’s just frustrating to see such potential in the motivation, mind, body, and basic technique of Arakawa, but having this almost-perfect boxing package deflated with an embarrassing lack of power. Arakawa, if you’re reading this, please spend a year chopping trees! I swear you’ll be a star in the ring killing 95% of the lightweight division. Linares, on the other hand, can really use this fight to increase his stock, as he can really clean up the top of the lightweight divison. He clearly has an excess of talent, and I use the word excess specifically because of Malignaggi’s quote during one of Linares’ beautiful combinations:
“Linares has beautiful combinations, but he spends too much time after his combinations admiring his handiwork instead of moving away from Arakawa’s pressure.”
This is a telling quote about Linares, and maybe of every young outboxer in today’s professional boxing world. (And can we take a moment to just applaud Malignaggi’s poetry in boxing commentary? He’s just killing it in the booth!) Young professional outboxers arguably get into the limelight early, demonstrating god-given gifts in speed, agility, and above all, grace in dispatching one, or multiple punch combinations on an opponent without getting hit in the process. This is especially true in the Mayweather era, where outboxers are also narcissists, priding themselves in the mental game that began miles before stepping in the ring. Once they step into the ring and actually gain confidence, you can see them smiling at their pugilism, taking a moment to breathe in the smell of defeat from their opponent. Exhibit A: Jorge Linares, punctuating a beautiful 4 punch combination on Arakawa with a huge uppercut, and then just standing right there in front of him, letting Arakawa push into his chest again with patty-cake punches, stealing points away from what should have been a shut-out round. Linares could do well by looking at his tape and comparing it to Mayweather or Sugar Ray Leonard’s, and seeing how outboxers use their combinations to slip away from infighters and challenge them with multiple angles, never losing focus, and always pressing the action.

Anyways, enough with my rant. On to the next fight.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Leo Santa Cruz fight was the most boring fight of the night, even with his vaunted volume punching that’s as predictable as Peyton Manning’s passing yards every Sunday. This predictability seemed to have caught up to Santa Cruz, when his opponent Cristian Mijares pulled a Joshua Clottey and showed up for a payday and basically looking to not get knocked out. 10 rounds of ZZZs, but props to Santa Cruz for adding another notch to his belt.

Before I talk about the main-event, I want to pass the pen to BMB contributer and in-house statistician, Jose Manuel Hernandez on his take of the Canelo v Angulo boxing match:

I was expecting more from this PPV bout, and frankly, I still don’t see why people think that Canelo is a PPV draw.  We will have to wait to learn about the actual PPV buys, but I can’t imagine this being a big money maker for any side.  One thing that needs to be echoed here is that Canelo has not really been doing anything to enhance the package he came with since being crowned by Golden Boy as the next best thing (after Mayweather).  Against slow, flat-footed boxers, Canelo is seemingly masterful with his faints and even displays some good “shoulder-roll” defense that we have grown to marvel at when Mayweather does it (see Trout fight, Canelo looked so skilled defensively, in spots).  Yet, even after starting this fight with massive bombs, he still gassed in the later rounds and resorted to his two second spurts of action at spots during the fight.  I would love to see Canelo fight Lara or the winner of Cotto/Martinez.

Lastly, does Canelo have legitimate 154lbs power? Why couldn’t Canelo make 154lbs for this fight?  How did this impact his opponent, Angulo?  Did he (Angulo) really not make weight either(154.5lbs)?  So many questions, yet the only thing that is for certain is this, Canelo apparently has a contract with Showtime for 3 “big” PPV fights this year. This is his chance to make us all believe that he has earned the crown he so callously wears.

– Jose M. Hernandez, BMB Contributing Writer

I totally agree with Jose.  Before the fight, I was thinking that Angulo could very well take advantage of Canelo’s wide punches by timing his head movement and shoving it into a phone booth with compact combinations to the head and body. This plan was thrown out the window as Canelo unloaded heavy, heavy combinations right off the bat. Canelo seemed to have made strides in his own mental game with this first move, and you can find the root of it in how his last opponent Mayweather started in Canelo’s previous fight. Mayweather was never a so called “slow-starter” or “fast-starter” but he started extremely fast against Canelo last year, setting the tone and pace that would ultimately decide the championship fight.

Canelo took a page out of that book and transformed into a killer as soon as the bell rang in the first round. Angulo’s eyes widened, and he admitted to his flustered trainer Virgil Hunter that “(Canelo’s) punches bothered me a little.” Canelo did not have to hear that from Angulo’s mouth, as his eyes were probably enough evidence to Canelo that his game plan was working, despite Canelo visibly gassing again in the 6-8th rounds. Overall, Canelo was pretty impressive, albeit still lazy in the later rounds with wide punches and a lack of focus. Canelo demonstrated tighter combinations in his hands, and new wrinkles in his feinting, expanding his already extensive toolbox of weapons. He has not convinced me that he’s eliminating any of his weaknesses though, and I really hope he would start being honest with himself to realize that. As a BMB writer and boxing patron, it would be unfortunate for such a talent like Canelo to be wasted in not practicing humility and working on weaknesses.

As for Angulo, his courage was really questionable for me. His whole persona of toughness and doggedness evaporated in the first round, and his efforts were stifled and outmatched with one or two punches on a fading Canelo. I was really cheering him on, but this is probably the fate for many no-movement infighters like him (i.e. Rios, Margarito, etc.) For all future fighters hoping to go pro with this style, there is a ceiling, and it is called brain damage. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have that Mike Tyson/Jack Dempsey head and torso movement paired with vicious, compact combinations on the inside? I can only dream of this in the Mayweather/Outboxer era we’re in right now.

5 things learned from Mayweather/Guerrero


This ESPN piece written by Kieran Mulvaney discusses five things that we can take away from the most recent Floyd Mayweather and Robert Guerrero fight. Who is next for Floyd? Can he promote five more fights knowing that he is already contractually guaranteed big bucks? Is there anyone out there that can compete with Floyd? Will Canelo/Mayweather be the next Pacquiao/Mayweather?

Article from ESPN, written by Kieran Mulvaney. Access the article here:

Box out for Mexican Independence

By Rudy Mondragón

According to multiple sources (Bleacher Report and ESPN), Juan Manual Marquez (55-6-1) is set to face Timothy Bradley Jr (30-0) on September 14th, 2013. Bob Arum, President of Top Rank, said that although the fight is set for September, he would move the match to October (5 or 12) if Floyd Mayweather Jr. winds up fighting on the same date. This is a good move given last year’s poor planning where both Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank had major fights scheduled during Mexican Independence weekend (TR: Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. & GBP: Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez vs. Josesito Lopez).

What Top Rank is doing is calling first dibs on the hottest weekend in boxing. Top Rank is also being real about the power that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has in the sport. As of now, Top Rank owns the September 14th date, unless Mayweather Jr. decides to fight that weekend. I hate to look beyond scheduled fights, but another reality is that there are plans to create a Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. rematch. The plan is for Martinez to fight this weekend (4/27) and win, setting up a potential fall rematch with Chavez Jr. If Mayweather Jr. beats Robert Guerrero, does it mean that Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (off his recent win agains Austin Trout) lands a fight with Mayweather Jr. in September?

Nothing is for certain with the match ups discussed above, but they are certainly possible. What does this mean for boxing in the year 2013? One hell of a fall season of boxing! As boxing enthusiasts, all we can do is sit back (well, not really, who sits back while watching all the fighters listed above) and enjoy the match ups that are set up for the spring, summer and fall. We will most likely see Marquez and Bradley square off in the ring in October as long as Mayweather Jr. gets the W on May 4th and decides to fight again in September. Given that Money May is not getting any younger and has 30 months to fight six fights under his contract with Showtime, chances are we will see two Mayweather Jr. appearances in 2013.