A Look At Alvarez v Fielding
By Joe Jessup
In a surprising announcement, it was recently revealed that Canelo Alvarez will challenge WBA ‘regular’ super-middleweight champion Rocky Fielding on December 15th at MSG. At a glance, this seems a case of cherry-picking from the Mexican but does Rocky have a legitimate chance at a monumental upset?
Outside of the UK, not many people know about the quiet lad from Liverpool. A big, strong and durable opponent with only one blip on his record, Fielding has a lot to offer in this bout. Alvarez is rightly a big favourite with both bookies and fans, but don’t completely rule out a tougher fight than most will expect. Stranger things have happened in the squared circle.
Fresh off of the biggest win of his career, Mexican star Canelo Alvarez sprung a surprise on the boxing world with his next choice of opponent. Alvarez, who became the first man to defeat middleweight king Gennady Golovkin, will face Liverpool’s super-middleweight WBA ‘regular’ champion Rocky Fielding on December 15th at Madison Square Garden in what could prove to be an intriguing fight.
Canelo, other than a catchweight fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in May 2017, this will be his first fight proper fight at super-middleweight, so jumping up to 168lbs is an interesting choice. Many expect Fielding to be hugely overmatched in his first elite level bout, a carefully picked opponent for Alvarez to finish a year in which he went from controversy to the top of the sport in the space of 12 gruelling rounds against his Khazak rival.
Perhaps Alvarez views this fight as such, not wanting to fully cut down to 160 before a return to the big fights next year. Perhaps he wants to test the waters ahead of a future assault on the 168 division.
Not a great deal is known about Rocky outside of the UK. His record stands at an impressive 28-1 with his sole loss coming at the hands of newly crowned super-middleweight champion Callum Smith in 2015 in a devastating first round stoppage.
Fielding has rebuilt well since then, winning six fights on the bounce and is also coming off of an upset of his own having defeated highly touted German Tyron Zeuge in five rounds last time out to land himself an unlikely world title. Other notable opponents include Christopher Rebrasse, Noe Gonzalez Alcoba and Brian Vera but no one close to the level of Canelo Alvarez.
Fielding began his career as a light heavyweight before deciding to move down and with a frame of 6’1, could conceivably move back up without too much trouble. That will give him a four inch height advantage over the smaller Mexican and, together with a five inch reach advantage, will pose some problems that Canelo will need to deal with come fight night. Although I have no doubt Canelo will grow in to 168lbs very soon, he is not yet there and Fielding is a big guy who can punch.
Rarely, if ever, has Golden Boy’s prized asset been in with someone who will be considerably larger in every way (with the slight exception of Chavez Jr maybe). For Fielding, the size of the task in front of him will not be lost on any one. He has recently spoken about feeling confident in his ability to stop Canelo, not outbox him for 12 rounds.
Alvarez is better at almost everything – speed, defense, boxing IQ, movement, combination punching and the jab – and so this leaves Rocky with a lot to think about come December 15th. The good news is that Canelo probably doesn’t punch as hard as Callum Smith, so an early blow out seems unlikely, especially given the Mexican’s tendency to not look for the knockout. He will have to be at his absolute best for every minute of the fight and it remains to be seen if he can indeed operate at the level needed to face someone as accomplished and talented as Alvarez.
For The Rock, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that few could have foreseen a couple of years back. It’s a chance to fight a future legend on one of the sport’s biggest stages for a world title and I have no doubt the Scouse warrior will leave it all in the ring come fight night.
You can never rule out any result in boxing and being the bigger, stronger and less pressurised fighter can give this fight a different complexion than most expect. For Canelo Alvarez, this is a chance to test the waters at super-middle and see how his power carries as well as his chin, although there can be few questions on that subject after his last two fights.
This may not be the kind of fight the sporting world would expect of Alvarez but by no means is this a stay busy fight. Fielding has gone under the radar, having long been in the shadow of his contemporaries George Groves, James DeGale and Callum Smith but he is no pushover.
I expect a fairly comfortable Alvarez win, either by wide unanimous decision or a late stoppage but I expect Rocky to ask some questions of the smaller man, particularly early on.
Whatever happens on December 15th, I hope both fighters put on a great show and leave the ring with their heads held high. Liverpool’s travelling fans will certainly light up New York City and as a UK man myself, I hope their kid can do too.