When Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Jermell Charlo was announced, reactions were mixed. Pitting the two unified 4-belt champs against one another, however, was a good marketing ploy. The fight is being billed as “Undisputed vs. Undisputed” and that not only makes for a good looking fight poster, it also makes the fight appealing from a salesman’s point of view.
But Charlo, the king of the 154 lb. junior middleweight division, competes two full weight divisions below 168 lb. super middleweight king, Alvarez (who has also competed twice at 175 lbs.).
Some are saying that the size differential is just too much for this to be a truly competitive fight. And some of those same people are also saying that pulling Charlo up from 154 is taking him away from good fights in his own division while also keeping Canelo from the good fights in his weight class.
Former two-division world champ Paulie Malignaggi is one of those critics raising both issues.
“Not only did this guy give us great fights, really good fights against really good opponents as far as to have to unify the title, but he’s going to have to keep defending and against good fighters as this weight class keeps producing good fighters,” Malignaggi said on his YouTube channel, Paulie TV, referring to Jermell Charlo’s run at junior middleweight.
“Nope, bring in Canelo Alvarez, and he ruined the whole thing for us.
“I respect the fact that he’s a big sell, a big star, and a very good fighter, Canelo,” continued Malignaggi. “Listen, I admit it. He’s a very good fighter, but why can’t boxing enforce the fights it wants?
“The fights within the weight classes that would make the best matchups and, in turn, give the fight fans the best matchups and the best fights. You actually get the bang for your buck.
“You actually get your entertainment value for the fight. Now we’re not going to get it because, honestly, does Jermell really have a reason to defend against Tim Tszyu [rising second generation star and mandatory contender to Charlo] ?
“Whether he [Jermell] wins or loses against Canelo, he’s going to make so much money he’s not even going to care about taking another risk against Tim Tszyu. I don’t know what else to say. I’m just going by my basic reactions right now.
“What do I think about Canelo vs. Jermell Charlo? It’s two very good fighters that are two weight classes apart. What is there to say? What is there to break down about this fight?
“If they were the same exact size, I’d probably pick Jermell to be the favorite, but they’re two full-weight classes apart. Two, bro. Do you know what that means? It’s a lot of difference. Two full weight classes of a difference.
“This is the lot for Jermell to overcome. Not to mention, of course, the politics of any kind of Canelo fight that you have to overcome to begin with. I don’t know, man.”
Malignaggi has some points, but there are also some counters to his verbal shots.
Weight-wise, most fighters compete well below their actual “walking around” weight. Charlo, for example, probably has a natural weight closer to 170, despite competing at 154. Alvarez, meanwhile, has likely maxed out at his 168 lb. fighting weight and probably doesn’t walk around too much heavier than that. Realistically, Charlo may be at a disadvantage because of the weight, but it won’t be as much of a factor as some say.
Where Paulie hits the nail on the head, though, is in saying that Canelo-Charlo will essentially kill off better fights both could be having within their own weight classes. With Charlo, that means the end of his brewing rivalry with Tim Tszyu and the death of what was shaping up to be a brilliant grudge match. For Canelo, matching up against Charlo means the potentially best and most logical super middleweight battle with consensus top contender David Benavidez won’t happen.
Canelo-Charlo is good, make no mistake about it. But, as Malignaggi points out, that one good fight may be coming at the expense of two potentially great fights.