By RICARDO CASTILLO
Maybe Mexican boxer Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez never saw the saga of movies on trigger-happy detective “Dirty Harry,” as wonderfully portrayed by that always-well-admired actor Clint Eastwood. In several of those movies, somewhere near the end, after beating an apparently unbeatable criminal, Dirty Harry would tell the previously invincible crook: “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” Bang!
Actually, some months ago when Canelo’s bout against Dmitry Bivol was announced, San Miguel de Allende journalist and boxing fan Lou Christine and yours truly discussed the fact Álvarez was moving up into the 175-pound light heavyweight division and going against the almost-unknown Bivol, a 32-year-old native of Kyrgyzstan, and what all this implied.
Both Christine and I have covered pro-boxing for years, so we knew what we were talking about. We agreed that Canelo had the physical skeletal frame for a super middleweight, and that there was no muscular room for him to grow anymore. In fact, Canelo is the ruling champion in several boxing organizations of the super middleweight division, which is one category below the light heavyweight one.
For starters, Canelo was overstepping one of the big no-nos of boxing, which is never allowing a boxer to perform out of the division he ranked in. All organizations have serious respect for the weigh categories of contenders, and going up into a higher division is simply not allowed.
But Canelo insisted on fighting in upper weight divisions and he even spoke about possibly going against another rising heavyweight star, Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk, a natural heavyweight at 100 kilos whose view is currently set on Tyson Fury’s belts.
Canelo shut up reporters who told him it would be a most unequal fight, saying “I can fight Usyk, why not?”
As for the Bivol fight, in Canelo’s case, things developed different. In his wildest fantasies Canelo thought he could fight in all divisions and get away with it. So, the World Boxing Association (WBA) catered to Canelo’s desires on the very sound basis that he would pack the house wherever he boxed. On this they were right.
But not on the fact that thousands of admirers wagering on Canelo lost their money.
There is still room for Canelo to move in international boxing, as he holds the super middleweight titles.
His unanimous decision defeat against Bivol can be seen as both a misjudgement and a mismatch.
Of course, it will take time for Canelo to admit that old Dirty Harry’s adage that a man shouldn’t bite off more than he can chew rang true. And he needs to learn that he has gotta know his limitations.