JEFF POWELL: Julio Cesar Chavez has passed Mexico’s boxing torch onto Canelo Alvarez… but the debate over the nation’s all-time great still hangs in the balanceJulio Cesar Chavez, 58, faced the son of one of his old rivals, Hector ComachoThe icon was fighting an exhibition, which he has promised will be his final boutCanelo Alvarez was on hand at ringside, and even worked Chavez’s corner The pair joined the debate over Mexico’s greatest boxer of all time at the bell Canelo might believe it’s his old idol, but the debate cannot be decided yet
The passing of the torch from the greatest Mexican boxer of all time to his heir apparent took place in Guadalajara at the weekend.
From Julio Cesar Chavez to Saul Canelo Alvarez in an impromptu ceremony drenched in emotion and awash with mutual respect. As poignant as it was symbolic.
At the start of the eighth and last round of what he insists will be his farewell exhibition bout Chavez beckoned Alvarez from his ringside seat to help work his corner.
Julio Cesar Chavez linked-up with Canelo Alvarez after the Tribute to the Legends fight
The Mexican is Cancelo’s idol, but it’s a tight choice over which is the nation’s all-time great
When he had finished trading unexpectedly competitive blows with Hector Comacho Jr – the son of one of his old rivals – Chavez embraced Alvarez. Then the 58-year-old legend and the 30-year-old icon who has always idolised him enjoined the debate as to who is the best-ever fighter in the annals of this nation of gloved warriors.
Chavez told the crowd: ‘In Canelo here you have the best Mexican fighter today, possibly the best in history.’
Alvarez responded: ‘Chavez will always be the greatest Mexican fighter.’
This is the eternal debate in every cantina in Tequilaville.
JC and Canelo are not the only two in the discussion but increasingly it is coming down to them now.
Canelo jumped into the ring after the fight amidst the emotional scenes in Guadalajara
Their records bear the closest scrutiny, in their similarity:
Chavez (incredibly undefeated in his first 90 fights) W 107, L 6, D 2.
Alvarez (remarkably defeated only by Floyd Mayweather) W 56, L 1, D 2.
The argument will not be settled for a while yet. Canelo, still fresh from his eye-and-cheek-crushing victory over Billy Joe Saunders in Dallas last month, has time on his side.
Chavez held world titles at three weights, Alvarez is already a world champion in four divisions.
Therein runs the undercurrent to Canelo’s current obsession with unifying all the super-middleweight titles, thereby becoming Mexico’s first undisputed world champion of the four-belt era.
‘We want to keep making more history,’ says the prize-ring’s most celebrated newlywed. That is an ambition he will realise if he defeats Caleb Plant on Mexico Independence Weekend in Las Vegas this September.
The more numerous his achievements, the hotter the argument will become.
Over a long lunch with boxing luminaries here WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman was among a majority declaring for Chavez, as of now. So did I, as a privileged outsider.
Chaves fought Hector Camacho Jr in an exhibition against the son of one of his old rivals
The 58-year-old engaged in a hard-fought contest before hanging-up his gloves once again
Some traditionalists at the table, however, pressed the case for others in the phenomenal litany of Mexican boxers.
Marco Antonio Barrera, Vicente Saldivar, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Rube Olivarez and Ricardo Lopez all had their advocates.
The most sentimental claim was made for Salvador Sanchez, the genius who was certainly on his way to becoming the best ever featherweight of all time and perhaps Mexico’s greatest ever boxer when he was killed in a car crash at just 23.
But this is not a question of what might have been.
Chavez was recognised as the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet in his prime. Canelo wears that crown today.
Not even superstars are perfect and both have been given the benefit of dubious decisions, Chavez over Pernell Whittaker and Canelo against Gennady Golovokin.
So when all the slings and arrows of fortune and history have been weighed in the balance, who reigns supreme?
You pay your pesos and you make your choice.
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