Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Canelo-Charlo: Preview and Prediction

When the fight between undisputed super middleweight champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs) and undisputed 154-lb. king Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) was originally announced, I immediately thought that Charlo had a great chance to spring the upset. Let me be more specific; despite Charlo moving up two divisions, I felt very confident that he would win the fight. But as the days and weeks have passed from that initial feeling, and as Saturday approaches (the fight will be at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas), I have significant concerns about Charlo's chances of winning.  

In Charlo's last fight, the rematch with Brian Castano where Charlo won by 10th-round stoppage, I thought that Jermell had the performance of his career. He had finally put everything together: power, boxing ability, purposeful movement, listening to his coach Derrick James, and not loading up on big punches. That Jermell Charlo was clearly among the top fighters in the world, and I could see him giving Canelo or any elite opponent problems.  

But then I asked myself: Can Charlo sustain this new level or was that performance a peak that was unlikely to be duplicated? And this is one of the central questions in analyzing Canelo-Charlo. If Charlo can summon that degree of perfection again, then I believe that he possesses all the attributes he would need to beat Canelo. But what are the chances of him putting together two perfect performances in a row?  

Canelo (left) and Charlo at the kickoff press conference
Photo courtesy of Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

In digging into Charlo's ring history, I feel less confident that the version from the second Castano fight will be here to stay. He's struggled against boxers before. He was lucky to escape the first Castano fight with a draw. He lost to Tony Harrison in a competitive fight and Harrison was doing very well in the rematch before Charlo stopped him. He also ate some huge shots against Jeison Rosario before ending that fight. In a concerning performance, he struggled to defeat Austin Trout despite knocking him down twice.  

With the exception of the Castano rematch, Charlo has never strung together a dominant wall-to-wall display in his career against a top opponent and I think that he would need to be close to that level to win a decision over Canelo. I don't think that Charlo will be able to stop Alvarez, who has demonstrated a sterling chin throughout his career, so a points win for Charlo would be a must.  

In almost all his fights with Derrick James, Charlo has been a low-volume power puncher who will give up some rounds looking for the knockout. Again, the second Castano fight was a deviation from this pattern. And maybe he found something new with his last fight, but I'm skeptical that he can maintain a higher-volume style against Canelo. Canelo's a master counterpuncher and the more that opponents open up against him, the more opportunities he has to counter. Thus, I do believe that Charlo, especially after feeling some early counters from Canelo, will not be throwing tons of volume in trying to win the fight. 

And if Saturday's match does settle into a low-volume affair with a couple of decisive power punches a round, then the fight will favor Canelo. Alverez's power shots sparkle; they are easy to see; plus, he will have the crowd with him.  

I also have additional concerns about Charlo's preparation and sharpness for the fight. Derrick James has had an absurdly busy schedule over the summer with his involvement with Errol Spence, Anthony Joshua and Frank Martin. There have been videos circulating of Charlo training with former champion Joan Guzman during this camp. Now Guzman was a terrific fighter and a really sharp boxer at his best, but I think that James' connection with Charlo has been vital in taking Jermell to his current level in the sport. Maybe Guzman is an excellent trainer, but I'm not sure that he can replace the bond that Charlo has with James. Charlo and James will need to be in lockstep to beat Canelo and with James having a broken camp with Charlo, I'm concerned that they might not have the dedicated time needed to cover every base needed for this fight.  

In addition, Charlo will enter Saturday's fight coming off a 16-month layoff, which will be the longest period of inactivity in his career as a champion. Charlo is a rhythm fighter who needs to be on point with his counters and power shots to win rounds. I worry about his ability to be sharp throughout 12 rounds against Canelo without having been in the ring recently. 

Now it's true that Canelo hasn't looked terrific in his recent fights. He had big leads against Gennadiy Golovkin and John Ryder but didn't finish either fight strong. He was also summarily outboxed by Dmitrii Bivol, where he couldn't handle Bivol's length, discipline or footspeed. And while Charlo can certainly box, I don't think that he possesses too many similarities with Bivol, who prefers to go in-and-out hitting singles and doubles, not concerned with knockouts or landing his best power shots. 

In the final analysis for Saturday's fight, I edge the fight to Canelo. I think it will be a battle of intermittent power punches. I think that Canelo hits a little harder, he can take a big shot, and is more comfortable with his style on the big stage. I believe that Charlo at his very best possesses the traits to win, but I'm not sure that he will be on point from the opening bell or have the ability to stick with his game plan for 12 rounds. Ultimately, I think that Canelo will be just a little bit better throughout the fight. Expect some ferocious power punches landed, but also a fair amount of staring in the fight, with many rounds coming down to one or two decisive punches. I think that Canelo would welcome this type of fight and I believe that he will do enough to have his hands raised when the final scores are announced. 

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez defeats Jermell Charlo via decision. Let's call it seven rounds to five or eight rounds to four. 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of saturdaynightboxing.com
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.  

Friday, September 8, 2023

Alex Camponovo: The Journey From Thompson to CBN

When Ken Thompson died earlier this year, the Southern California boxing scene lost one of its beacons. Thompson Boxing Promotions played a vital role in developing SoCal boxing talent over the past 23 years. In addition to cultivating world champions (Tim Bradley and Danny Roman) and contenders (Josesito Lopez, Mauricio Herrera and Juan Carlos Burgos), the company put together one of the best club boxing programs in the United States, utilizing its Inland Empire base of Riverside and San Bernadino Counties to build a consistent following that nurtured fighters and boxing fans in the region. 

A central figure of Thompson Boxing was Alex Camponovo, who was its general manager and matchmaker. Camponovo regarded Ken Thompson as father figure, a man who taught him multitudes about business and how treat people with respect. 

"His legacy is that he always trusted in people," said Camponovo. "He surrounded himself with positive people. He was an ultra-positive guy. He always found a silver lining in everything."  

Thompson left a sterling legacy in the sport: giving fighters a chance, believing in a high-quality product, and willing to take risks to grow. And out of this reservoir of respect for his mentor and business partner, Camponovo understood that the brand of Thompson Boxing would end with the passing of its founder. 

In evaluating his next steps in the sport, Camponovo wanted to build on his experiences with Thompson Boxing while exploring new possibilities for broadcast and distribution. Despite having a successful club boxing program, Thompson Boxing lacked consistent TV distribution for its product. In addition, because of their size, once they had discovered and nurtured fighters who could compete on the world-level, they often lost them to larger promotional companies. 

Image courtesy of CBN Promotions

For his next boxing venture, Camponovo wanted to change the dynamics of his involvement in the sport. The result of his efforts is CBN Sports and Entertainment, Inc. (also known as CBN Promotions), where he has enjoined with new partners to create what he believes will be a larger platform in the Southern California (and global) boxing market. Home base will now be closer to the greater L.A. area, at Infinite Reality Studios (formerly Thunder Studios) in Long Beach, Orange County. 

Their first show will be this Saturday and will feature Rigoberto Hermosillo (13-4) of Los Angeles against Alexis De Luna (10-1) of Bakersfield. Camponovo loves the matchup and believes that it will play great on TV. Oh wait...have I gotten ahead of myself? 

CBN has already secured three television networks to broadcast its fight cards: Fox Espanol, Estrella TV and beIN Sports En Espanol (the latter two will broadcast fights on tape delay). Each broadcast will provide three to four hours of boxing. The series, unlike most Thompson Boxing cards, will take place on Saturdays. 

"The new partnership that has been created," said Camponovo, "will bring not only knowledge on the boxing side, some of the fighters that we've featured before and new ones, but also the production, television and distribution that perhaps we were lacking with Thompson Boxing." 

A key wrinkle of CBN's business strategy is the control of Infinite Reality Studios. One of the founding partners of CBN is Rolando Nichols, who is the president and general manager of the venue. As a result, CBN will have control of the presentation of its product and will not be at the mercy of an external venue. The control of the venue will allow them to create an optimal boxing experience for fans, broadcasters and sponsors. With a fixed venue, they will also be able to set their boxing calendar well in advance, providing the continuity needed to grow their business. 

The Thompson family has graciously supported the new venture and has allowed CBN access to its existing social media networks and other infrastructure assets. CBN's series is branded "New Blood" with "The Tradition Continues" right underneath in its marketing, a mission statement about combining the old and new. 

CBN could have waited longer to get more of its ducks in a row before going forward with its first live card (the company is still shopping for English-language broadcast distribution); however, Camponovo wanted to capitalize on the momentum from Thompson Boxing. He has relationships with scores of boxers in the Southern California market and he knows that many of them need to fight. 

As of this publication, CBN has not signed any boxers to long-term contracts, but Camponovo and his partners, who also include Andrew Bocanegra and Jessie Sanchez (who have previous experience in managing fighters), will be looking for longer-term deals with the right fighters. Saturday's card will feature several fighters who had previously appeared on Thompson Boxing shows. Camponovo is particularly enthusiastic about 8-0 middleweight Nelson Oliva and 6-0 welterweight Juan Sanchez. Both reside in the greater L.A. area and have crowd-pleasing styles. 

Camponovo knows that the Southern California boxing and entertainment market is competitive. There are lots of choices on a Saturday night and if the fights aren't good, the fans will stay away. Part of CBN's mission will be to develop future top-level fighters while providing quality entertainment for fans, broadcasters, sponsors and potential future partners. 

As Camponovo sees it, if CBN has a successful first 12 months, they will promote fighters who will be ranked in the top-15 in the world in their division. The company will also be able to expand their distribution to different countries and languages. 

Although these may be lofty goals for an upstart promoter, don't be quick to dismiss Camponovo. He wants to compete. He has a keen eye for talent. And now he believes that he has the infrastructure in place to be a factor well beyond a couple of counties in California. He's shooting for the upper reaches of the sport. And he's ready to go.

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of saturdaynightboxing.com
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.