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Canelo vs Fielding: A real life Rocky story

Rocky Fielding’s first defence at The Garden will be one to savour.

Boxing at Echo Arena Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has been a contributor at Bad Left Hook since 2018.

Boxing politics frustrate us all. “Will they, won’t they?” “Can they, should they?” As fans, we are forever plotting the route for our favourite fighters, discussing their next steps against a shopping list of talent.

This isn’t a regimented sport; no home and away fixtures set in a calendar, no round robin format. Sure, the sanctioning bodies demand mandatory defences based on the rankings, but often we are left with fighters, teams and promoters forging their own path, picking and choosing where to go next.

It’s rare that this path detours too far off route. Fighters tend to find themselves treading the path that others in their division have forged, moving through the levels, taking on a who’s who of their division.

Then, once in a blue moon, you get an announcement that stops you in your tracks. Gennady Golovkin vs Kell Brook was a recent example of this; Friday nights confirmation of Rocky Fielding vs Saul Alvarez at Madison Square Garden, December 15, was the latest one.

Okay, I get it. Being based in London allows me to view this news through red and white tinted glasses; ‘Rocky from Stocky’ isn’t as much of a draw in the US — if at all — as he is here in the UK. After besting Tyron Zeuge by fifth-round TKO to claim the WBA’s secondary world title, Fielding put his name on the map at world level. Previous to this victory on away soil, Rocky was arguably best known for being obliterated inside the first round by the, now, WBA (Super) champion at 168-pounds: Callum Smith.

The pessimists will see this as a tactical move by Matchroom. Feed Fielding to Canelo, build the DAZN network now that HBO have decided to say “no mas” to boxing, and line up the Mexican superstar to challenge the more-dangerous Smith sometime in 2019; cannon-fodder, but cannon-fodder that can bang.

Speaking to iFL TV this weekend, Fielding expressed his amazement at this fight being confirmed as his first defence: “It’s the Mecca of boxing. I was there three years ago with my girlfriend, did a tour around Madison Square Garden and got ourselves tickets to the New York Knicks games, $30 dollar tickets right in the top tier. I was going to my girlfriend, imagine fighting here one day. Three years later I get a call and I’m topping the bill, do you know what I mean, it’s unbelievable!

”It’s what we dream of, it’s what we’re in the game for, big fights, big nights, big names and I don’t shy away from anyone. This fight made sense in every department.”

This truly is a real-life Rocky story. Within the space of two fights, Rocky has jumped from domestic level in the UK, to headlining a card against one of the biggest stars of the sport, defending his title. Sure, Fielding is a massive underdog coming into this bout on December 15, but unlike some of Canelo’s previous victims, Rocky has the tools and has the size to ask a question of the Mexican.

Sometimes the narrative of a fight overpowers the technical breakdown, the detailed analysis and the sweet science of battle. This is a prime example of this. Win, lose or draw, Brits, and Liverpudlians especially, will be looking back on this fight in years to come saying “cor, remember when our Rocky headlined against Canelo?”

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