This weekend, Rocky Fielding, the WBA Super Middleweight title holder, faces the boxing’s premier attraction, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in a bout rich with opportunity for the 31-year-old Liverpudlian.
Should Fielding (8/1) emerge victorious from the encounter at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night it would represent arguably the greatest upset achieved by a British fighter in modern times.
Their bout is loaded with commercial expectation too, this will be Alvarez’s first bout on the digital streaming platform, DAZN, since signing his 10-fight deal with the embryonic organisation following his contentious victory over Gennady Golovkin in September.
There are a lot of parties vested in that relationship; stakeholders who anticipate a regulation victory for the Mexican hero, a 1/16 heavy favourite.
Despite the yawning chasm in pedigree and big-fight experience between the pair, there remain a host of betting opportunities with the best boxing bookmakers.
It is a peculiarity of the fight that the attraction, the ‘establishment’ figure, is Saul Avarez and yet the belt being contested currently belongs to the largely unheralded Rocky Fielding.
It is within this quirk that the first strand of hope, for those who enjoy supporting the long shot from time to time, can be found.
Fielding is a tall and fully-fledged Super-Middleweight and having boxed at Light-Heavyweight as an amateur, will be the biggest opponent Alvarez has squared off with so far in his 13-year career.
Alvarez vs Fielding: Height and Reach
Listed as 6ft 1, Fielding towered over the 5ft 9 of Alvarez in the early publicity photographs by a margin which appeared greater than the recorded 4 inches.
If he is to succeed, he is a market leading 9/1 to win with Betway, he will need to utilise this reach and natural size to unprecedented effect.
Alvarez is naturally aggressive in style, able to counter punch or lead and with an array of combinations to head and body, he poses Fielding a host of stylistic problems too.
In his recent rematch with Golovkin he marched toward the previously imperious Khazakh to secure a narrow points decision and become the consensus champion at the classic middleweight limit.
Patient, rugged and with thudding if not ‘one-punch’ knockout power, it will be interesting to see if he carries the same deterrent in his fists at the new higher poundage. A knockout victory for Alvarez, available at 2/7 with Betway, offers a narrow return for those inclined to believe he can be concussive at Super-Middleweight.
Certainly, there is merit in the conclusion his superior hand-speed and mobility will overwhelm the champion.
In contemplating that outcome, much is made of Fielding’s solitary loss, inside a round, to fellow Liverpudlian and unified Super-Middleweight champion Callum Smith in 2015.
On paper it suggests weakness, but it is a result which reveals the potential of Smith, who was devastating in triumph, and also the willingness of Fielding to engage and trade with a massive puncher.
Fielding rose from the canvas twice and before the second of the three times he was dropped, he managed to force the gigantic Smith back.
Will Fielding Dare To Trade?
There was courage and power in Fielding’s performance. But there was also evidence of the adrenaline of a bigger event, it was a huge Liverpool ‘derby’ between the two, and the heat of battle, distracting him from a game plan.
If Fielding chooses to trade with Alvarez he will be beaten for hand-speed and technique and the Mexican is also more adept at landing and then stepping out distance to reset.
Fielding, when the lights go down, and he realises the enormity of the task at hand, may gamble on walking through the smaller man’s punches; after all, Alvarez has only been a middleweight for the past twelve months.
Despite the size disparity, it is hard to imagine Fielding can succeed where Golovkin, one of the most punishing middleweights of all time, failed.
Impartiality demands a sober, not romantic conclusion on Fielding’s chances here.
I’m inclined to think his size advantages will afford him more protection than some of Alvarez’s previous victims; the chunky, if defensive, Julio Cesar Chavez Junior, managed to see the final bell in 2017 for comparison.
However, there is an imperative for Alvarez to entertain and underline his status as a major attraction.
If Fielding is cautious, I believe he will reach the second half of the fight before he succumbs to the punch precision and power.