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Cancio vs Alvarado 2: Staff picks and predictions

Two secondary WBA belts are on the line on Saturday. Will either change hands?

Flying under the radar tomorrow night is a solid Golden Boy card from Indio, California, where fan favorite Andrew Cancio faces Rene Alvarado in a main event rematch, and Xu Can takes on prospect Manny Robles III in the co-feature.

Our staffers pick the winners.

Xu Can vs Manny Robles III

Scott Christ

At 25, Xu might be just entering his prime, and his last couple of wins have been solid. He looked really good beating Shun Kubo in May in Fuzhou, but Kubo had also been dominated by Daniel Roman in 2017. Xu has staked a little claim in the featherweight field, but there remain questions about him longer-term. On the other side, Robles is a talented young fighter who nonetheless has scraped by in his last two wins, a pair of split decisions over opponents meant to be showcase foes.

Because of those results, Robles is being chucked into the deeper end at 25. You might argue he hasn’t looked ready, but the flip side of that is a suspicion that he’s just never going to be ready. If he wins, great, Golden Boy have another homegrown fighter they can call a “world champion.” If he doesn’t, well, at least they got him into one (1) world title fight before he lost to someone worse. He’s being asked to sink or swim here.

I don’t believe he’ll turn heads in any crazy fashion, but I am picking Robles to win this fight on debatable scoring. Any controversy will pretty much fly under the radar on the larger scale, because let’s be honest, not many people are going to be watching this show. Robles SD-12

Wil Esco

I see this as the most competitively matched fight of all the notable ones taking place this weekend. I don’t think Can is an exceptionally great talent, but he has been in against tougher opposition than has Robles, who’s basically never fought anyone. I mean everyone has to have their coming out party at some point, if they’re to make a name for themselves, but I just don’t see it happening here for Robles. Neither fighter is much of a puncher, so to me I think this fight gets decided on points, and I think Can’s better experience will play a factor in helping him edge the scorecards. I think this will turn out to be a pretty decent scrap, but I just think Can takes it after the final bell. Xu UD-12

Patrick L. Stumberg

If you could take Robles’ best moments and string them into a cohesive whole, you’d have a hell of a prospect on your hands. Instead, you’ve got a talented young man hamstrung by low output and a tendency to try defensive maneuvers he’s only ~75% as slick as he’d need to be to pull off. He had all kinds of issues with Rigoberto Hermosillo’s raw aggression and volume last time out, and though Xu is an easier target and a lesser puncher than Hermosillo, he’s every bit as relentless and strings his punches together better.

As far as I can tell, Robles doesn’t have the firepower to make up for the statistical deficit he’ll assuredly face, even with Xu’s stationary defense. The champ makes it two straight defenses, outworking Robles and shrugging off the return fire to keep up his advance. Xu UD-12

Lewis Watson

This is a really good, interesting match-up. Can has developed well as a champion and despite not being a big-hitter has looked comfortable in his two world title fights to date. Robles has fantastic amateur schooling to fall back on, but in a fight that will probably prove hard to score, sitting down on his punches and testing the chin of the Chinese “Monster” may provide a path to victory.

Robles will have the crowd on his side and will be inspired to pressure the champion in a way he hasn’t had to cope with before. Utilising his power is the key to pinching the WBA strap. This is destined to go the distance. D-12

And the staff winner is...


Xu Can (2-1-1)!

Andrew Cancio vs Rene Alvarado

Scott Christ

Andrew Cancio was always a really likable fighter, a regular on Golden Boy’s B-level California shows for quite a while. He seemed to have a low ceiling, but he was fun to watch. In short, Cancio is a fighter who has clawed his way to where he is. He learned on the job; he was never a protected blue chipper, carefully matched and handled with kid gloves. To this day he’s working a day job. But now that he seems to have really put it together in the ring, he’s even more fun. He’s started looking like a truly wicked body puncher and he was just all wrong for Alberto Machado in their two fights this year.

When Alvarado first faced Cancio nearly four years ago, Cancio wasn’t the fighter he seems to be today. Now 31, Cancio might not have a long prime yet to go, but he’s still in what should be his best years, even if he’s at the back end of them. The 30-year-old Alvarado is an also-ran who never broke through the way Cancio has. I think Alvarado might do a little better than Machado did just on style, but Cancio gets him again with his ever-increasing belief in his ability. I think there are a few guys at 130 who would absolutely still beat Cancio, but Alvarado is not on that list. Cancio TKO-6

Wil Esco

In the past I’ve expressed the fact that I wasn’t a firm believer in Andrew Cancio, even after the first time he beat Alberto Machado. With Cancio working a full-time job, training in the off hours, and just hearing him speak about being ready to walk away from boxing when the time comes made led me to believe his heart wasn’t fully in the sport. And in this sport you can’t really afford to just be going through the motions, especially at the world title level. But so far Cancio has proved me wrong, beating Machado in a rematch even more emphatically than the first time. Maybe that says something about Machado, but I have to give credit where it’s due. Whatever Cancio is doing, it’s working for him, so at this point I’m going to have to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially over a fighter he’s already knocked out a few years ago. I’ll take Cancio to repeat. Cancio TKO-7

Patrick L. Stumberg

Like a far less egregious Santa Cruz-Flores, this looks like a case of grit vs. grit. Neither man likes to back up, neither man is easy to get rid of, and neither man is likely to burn himself out despite a remarkable punch output. For my money, this will be neck-and-neck with Figueroa-Ceja when it comes to predicting the week’s most entertaining matchup.

Even putting aside that Cancio is already 1-0 against Alvarado, he looks to have the edge in punching technique and is more than durable enough to take anything the Nicaraguan can dish out. In a lengthy phone booth battle, Cancio lands the crisper and more damaging shots to take a competitive but comfortable decision. Cancio UD-12

Lewis Watson

Cancio underlined his growth as a super-featherweight in repeating his win over Machado in the summer – a rematch of his 2015 win over Alvarado doesn’t strike me as a potential banana skin for the 31-year-old. Alvarado has struggled when stepping up throughout his career, with eight career defeats limiting his potential at 130 pounds.

Cancio has improved a lot since their 2015 meeting and with a strong-enough chin and underrated power, “El Chango” should canter to victory. Cancio UD-12

And the staff winner is...

WBA Super Featherweight World Championship - Cancio v Machado II Photo by Tom Hogan/Golden Boy/Getty Images

Andrew Cancio (4-0)!

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