All other things being equal, you’d expect the larger person to win anytime you see two people get into a fight. But things won’t be equal on May 6 when Saul “Canelo” Alvarez takes on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Canelo is giving up four inches in height and 2 1/2 inches in reach to Chavez, yet he’s still expected to mop the floor with his fellow Mexican on Cinco de Mayo weekend.
That’s what the betting market thinks. The 5Dimes sportsbook offers odds for the fight, check them before you bet, and you’ll see that 5Dimes gives Chavez even less of a chance than most of the other books. They’ve got him down as +540 at press time, with Canelo pegged at –660. In other words, Chavez is expected to win this fight about 15.6 percent of the time, compared to 86.8 percent for Canelo.
You may have noticed those two percentages don’t add up to 100. That extra 2.4 percent represents the vigorish that the bookies collect to process your bet, this being a financial transaction and everything. But any way you slice it, Canelo is a considerable favorite in a bout that’s being sold as a competitive matchup.
Maybe it would have been five years ago. That’s when Chavez (50-2-1, 32 KO) last held the WBC middleweight title, and it’s also the last time he fought below 168 pounds. He and Canelo (48-1-1, 34 KO) have agreed to a catchweight of 164.5 pounds for May 6; the favorite and current lineal middleweight champ is moving up in weight, and Canelo already looks like he could tear a car in half with three weeks to go before bell time.
The Millions (and Millions)
Chavez has over six million reasons to agree to this catchweight. His career is on a rapid decline at age 31, so this could be his last chance at a big payday. Canelo’s people at Golden Boy Promotions are in charge of this fight, and their client is one of the biggest attractions in boxing, so they get to dictate the terms. Chavez will be paid $6 million plus a percentage of the revenues for his efforts.
Canelo will get the larger slice of the pie, and it’ll be a very large slice. There are no titles on the line in this bout; the WBC has created a special Cinco de Mayo commemorative belt for the winner, a belt that will be awarded annually to whomever wins the biggest fight of the holiday weekend. Think of it like Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz breaking box-office records with their UFC catchweight fights, only this time, nobody cares about the implications for the title or the divisions. Just show them the money.
Of course, there is a small chance that Chavez will pull off the upset. If he does, his boxing career will be resurrected, and a marquee fight against Gennady Golovkin could be in the cards. But Golovkin doesn’t think much of Chavez, either. He expects the 6-foot-1 Chavez to be too weak to go more than a couple of rounds after cutting down to 164.5 pounds, much like Oscar De La Hoya was too weak to compete with Manny Pacquiao in 2008 after dropping from 154 pounds to 147.
Should Canelo come out on top as expected, he’ll get a crack at another big payday against Golokvin – if he wants it. The undefeated Kazakh was named Canelo’s mandatory challenger for the WBC title last year, but the champ dropped the belt instead. Perhaps none of that will matter this time; if they do fight, it will be in September during Mexican Independence Day weekend, and the WBC has a commemorative belt for that annual holiday, too. Just show them the money.