By Kirk Jackson
“If you were to put us together side by side at 23-years old I think he’s a lot better,” said Golden Boy Promoter Oscar De La Hoya in a recent interview with reporter Elie Seckbach.
“I think he’s far more advanced than any fighter out there that I’ve talked to or seen including Mayweather.”
Can’t say that I agree with De La Hoya’s assessment, but his analysis brings an interesting topic of conversation.
Immediately, fighters who come to mind when I think of young prodigies are Mike Tyson, Wilfred Benitez, Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather and Ray Robinson.
At 20-years old, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history, defeating Trevor Berbick via vicious 2nd round knockout. Tyson is also the youngest fighter to win the Ring Magazine and Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) fighter of the year award at age 20.
Benitez, is the youngest world titlist in history, capturing the WBA light welterweight title against Antonio Cervantes when he was only 17-years old.
At age 22, Benitez became the youngest fighter to capture world championship titles in three different weight classes after defeating Maurice Hope for the WBC super welterweight title.
Ali, Robinson and Mayweather hold the distinction of being recipients of the fighter of the year award at the young age of 21.
There are more factors aside from accolades that determine a fighter’s greatness. Since there is a huge fight this weekend featuring Mayweather and Alvarez, with De La Hoya as the promoter, let’s see how these three fighters in particular measure up at age 23.
Beginning with Oscar, as a 1992 Olympic Gold medalist, he turned pro at age 19.
By the age of 23, he compiled a record of 23-0 with 20 fights stopped within the distance. Some notable opponents include Rafael Ruelas, Jesse James Leija, Julio Cesar Chavez, Genaro Hernandez, Jorge Paez and Jeff Mayweather.
He won the WBO featherweight title, WBO lightweight title and the WBC super lightweight title.
Floyd Mayweather left the 1996 Olympic Games with a bronze medal and turned pro at the age of 19.
At the age of 23, he held a record of 25-0 with 19 KO’s. Some notable opponents include Genaro Hernandez, Angel Manfredy, Emanuel Augustus and Diego Corrales.
He won the WBC super featherweight title and defended his title six times.
Canelo is a different case. Lacking the amateur background, he turned professional at age 15.
Entering his showdown against Mayweather, Canelo is 42-0-1 with 30 KO’s. Thus far he has captured the WBA and WBC junior middleweight titles.
Notable names on his resume include Shane Mosley, Matthew Hatton, Austin Trout, Carlos Baldomir and by the weekend the list will include Floyd Mayweather.
Canelo may seem seasoned as a veteran despite his age because this is his 8th year campaigning as a professional fighter.
Now if we look at De La Hoya and Mayweather’s careers in their 8th year.
With Mayweather, you add the acquisition of the WBC lightweight title and he entered his third weight class at junior welterweight.
Also add the names of Demarcus Corley, Jesus Chavez, Phillip N’dou, Victoriano Sosa and Jose Luis Castillo twice.
For Oscar, add Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad, Ike Quartey, Julio Cesar Chavez for a second time, Oba Carr, Hector Camacho and Pernell Whitaker as a formidable list of opponents.
Some of the guys were past their primes, but this is arguably one of the greatest collections of names to have on your resume.
Also add the addition of the WBC welterweight title. This was Oscar’s run at the welterweight division.
Whether it’s measuring what each respective fighter accomplished at the age of 23, or what they accomplished by their 8th year as a professional, the overall the list of accomplishments and the list of names on the resume favor Oscar. The amount of talent and variety of skills displayed would favor Mayweather.
All three guys, De La Hoya, Mayweather and Alvarez were talented fighters at this point in their careers. But Floyd was the more complete fighter, offensively, defensively, had better instincts and had another level above everyone else in the speed department.
Mayweather’s ring intelligence and seamless ability to adapt to his opponent under any circumstance separates him from even some of the all-time great fighters in this sport and he has displayed this ability from a young age and well into his career.
Despite giving the nod to De La Hoya and Mayweather in the accomplishment and overall skill categories, Canelo is no slouch.
With his eight years of professional fighting, he has racked up valuable rounds of experience, 277 rounds to be exact and has the potential to exceed both bench marks left by De La Hoya, Mayweather and others.
Canelo’s quest starts September 14th, when he takes on Floyd Mayweather in front of his adoptive mentor, Oscar De La Hoya.
Sources: Elie Seckbach