By Nick Tylwalk
Mexican boxing fans should be in for a treat as their newest hero, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez headlines on HBO by defending his WBC light middleweight title against British southpaw Ryan Rhodes. By treat I mean a time for Canelo to shine, not necessarily because it's going to be a tight, competitive fight.
That's because the deck appears to be pretty stacked against Rhodes. For someone who has never fought outside the U.K., it won't be easy to win on Alvarez's home turf. That's assuming all things are equal, which they clearly aren't given Canelo's power and his "wise beyond his 20 years" way of carrying himself in the ring.
Rhodes also has some pop, but his KO loss to thoroughly average Gary Lockett a few years back makes it hard to consider him a serious threat. Unless Alvarez is caught looking completely past him, this seems like a nightmare match-up for Rhodes.
Alvarez has had some trouble closing out his last two opponents, but I think he changes that tonight spurred on by his home fans. I expect a celebration in Mexico after Canelo produces a mid-round KO.
The HBO co-feature is also interesting as it matches undefeated Adrien "The Problem" Broner with battle-tested Jason Litzau. With Broner a possible star on the rise and Litzau known for being in some good scraps, this could easily outshine the main event.
Just 21 years old, Broner comes in off his most impressive victory so far, a unanimous decision over Daniel Ponce de Leon. A few years ago, Litzau probably would have seemed like a slight step down, but not at the moment.
That's because Litzau's last outing was a split decision win against very talented Celestino Caballero. The American Boy showed he's come a long way and learned a lot more tricks than we saw from him the last time he faced elite competition, a KO loss to Robert Guerrero in 2008.
Both men can bring the thunder, and if this turns into a slugfest, no outcome would surprise me. But even though Litzau is not really known as a technician, his height and experience could prove a definite factor if he can make it more of a boxing match.
Broner has every chance to win this one and continue his ascent, but I'm feeling the mild upset here. In a fight that should have its share of action-packed exchanges, I like Litzau to eke out a narrow decision.
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