Follow the Chavez Sr. playbook -- "El Gran Campeon Mexico" built his Hall of Fame resume on applying steady pressure, banging the body and utilizing precise power shots. That formula has propelled Alvarez to a sparkling 36-0-1 (26 KO) record -- almost identical to Chavez's 37-0 (32 KO) mark at the same age -- and he's likely to try it again here because (1) it has been a successful style; and (2) Rhodes has shown vulnerability against it, even in victory.
As for the first point, Chavez landed 47 percent overall and 52.9 percent of his power shots during his virtual shutout against Matthew Hatton. The pattern held against Lovemore N'dou (36.3 percent overall, 42.4 percent power), Carlos Baldomir (53.3 percent overall, 58.1 percent power) and Jose Miguel Cotto (37.9 percent overall, 54.5 percent power). His offense served as an effective defense because he faced far less return fire and his body absorbed fewer bullets. In those four bouts Alvarez out-landed his opponents 932-498 overall and 710-272 in power shots, a gulf made even more dramatic because they were softer hitters than Alvarez in an overall sense. While Cotto buzzed Alvarez badly early in their bout, the Puerto Rican lacked the heft to finish the job.
Addressing the second point, Rhodes experienced many difficult moments against Jamie Moore, a strong aggressor like Alvarez. Despite his slick-boxing ways, Rhodes chose to rumble inside and paid a statistical price before producing a spectacular seventh-round stoppage. Moore threw more (82.4 punches per round to Rhodes' 62.9), landed more (241-129 overall connects and 211-91 in power connects) and landed more precisely (42 percent to 29 overall and 46 percent to 32 in power shots).
Only Rhodes' resourcefulness saved the day, but against Alvarez he'll be facing a younger, stronger and more talented foe in his rival's back yard.
His last loss came against Gary Lockett, another aggressive foe, in July 2006. He out-landed Rhodes 246-133 (overall) and 173-102 (power) and unleashed 63.2 punches per round while limiting Rhodes to 38.6. He even out-jabbed Rhodes 73-31.
In short, if Alvarez can draw Rhodes into a slugfest -- and Rhodes has shown a willingness to do so -- he will likely accomplish his mission.
Dig into the bag of tricks -- Rhodes has built a 10-fight win streak (including eight KO) on the wiles he acquired in his 49-bout, 16-year career. He switch-hits fairly effectively, works the body well, can move in either direction and knows how to work his way out of trouble.
To win Rhodes must merge the tactics employed by Baldomir and Luciano Cuello, both of whom managed to hinder some of Alvarez's offense. Baldomir's experience limited Alvarez to 40.3 punches per round but his lack of defense didn't prevent "Canelo" from landing 58.1 percent of his power shots and 48.8 percent of his jabs. Meanwhile, Cuello employed an overly defensive style that lowered Alvarez's accuracy to 24.9 percent (overall), 13.2 percent (jabs) and 37.3 percent (power). In doing so, however, Cuello sacrificed his own offense (30.3 punches per round, 12.6 percent overall accuracy, 9.7 percent jabs and 24.3 percent power).
Rhodes has the defensive skills to remain elusive, the experience to throw tactical curveballs at the 20-year-old, the willingness to engage when need be and the intelligence to implement a solid fight plan. The only question is whether he can impose his style on Alvarez over the long term.
Prediction: Rhodes is enjoying the best form and his five-year winning streak guarantees he'll enter the ring with a confident mindset. His mobility, southpaw stance and punch variety will present stylistic challenges to Alvarez early but in the middle rounds Alvarez will mount a Chavez-like attack that will sap Rhodes' strength and willpower. A late-round KO for Alvarez is possible but a decision victory is more likely.
For more Compubox statistics on Canelo Alvarez vs. Ryan Rhodes, go to the Inside Fight Week blog.