Myth or Legend: Saul “Canelo Alvarez
By Kirk Jackson
This past weekend Saul “Canelo” Alvarez defeated Austin Trout in a junior middleweight unification bout with the WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine titles at stake.
Photo: Tom Casino/Showtime
Regarded as a huge test for Alvarez, this is arguably Alvarez’s first fight against legitimate opposition. Up until now, many of the guys he had been fighting: Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintron, Carlos Baldomir, Matthew Hatton, Jose Cotto and Josesito Lopez were considered past their prime or too small.
His fight against Trout was his first fight against elite opposition and he already had over 40 fights going into his meeting with Trout.
The goal for Alvarez was to not only unify the titles, but to silence his critics and put himself in a position to face Floyd Mayweather at some point in the near future. Mayweather would have to get past Robert Guerrero and any other potential opponents that stand in the way of course.
He could have silenced ALL his critics with an impressive victory over Trout.
Alvarez was declared the winner against Trout this past weekend, but he did not look like the clear cut winner.
Yes Alvarez scored a solid knock down against Trout in round 7 of their fight, but Trout rose up from the canvas and dominated the round after that. It can be argued Trout dominated the fight from a boxing stand point.
It’s really up for interpretation and depends on what you look for when scoring a fight, but Trout threw more punches and out-landed Alvarez. Trout set the pace of the fight and even though he lacked the power to seriously hurt Alvarez, he shouldn’t be penalized for it.
Punch statistics don’t always accurately tell the tale of the fight, but with Trout landing 30 more punches than Alvarez, and throwing more punches, shows he was the busier fighter.
Alvarez did land the more dramatic punches, but was not consistent enough on my estimation to win on the scorecards 118-109 from judge Stanley Christodoulou, 116-111 from judge Oren Shellenburger, and 115-112 from judge Ray Danseco.
Alvarez did go from bull to matador in this fight, but he didn’t necessarily look like a defensive wizard in the ring. He did show the good head movement at times, showed he has the ability to counter-punch effectively against elite opposition, but he also looked a little sloppy and looked tired in the ring. Most of his defensive boxing was an effort to conserve energy and explode in spurts.
If he fights this way against Floyd Mayweather, he stands no chance. Mayweather is much more accurate than Trout, faster, intelligent and just a better overall boxer in general. The only advantage Alvarez would have is he would probably outweigh Mayweather anywhere from 20 to 30 pounds the night of the fight.
Some fans consider Alvarez a boxing prodigy. The legend of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has far exceeded his skill level and accomplishments thus far.
This is the problem with boxing. Most of the media want to quickly anoint certain fighters as stars and kings of the ring, without necessarily going through all the tests to be worthy of the title.
The fighter may possess a certain style that is appealing for casual fans, or may have some sort of emotional rags to riches story, that network analysts try to focus in on and even exaggerate at times to capture the hearts of the viewers.
It’s nothing new for the promoters of the sport, it’s their job to promote their fighters and exaggerate a little. For a television network to do it, it’s deceiving to the fans, especially the ones who do not constantly follow the sport. And the networks do it course for the money.
A prime example is Alvarez.
Is he talented? Yes he is a talented fighter, with potential.
Is he really as good as his legend suggests? No.
He was basically given the WBC junior middleweight title when he faced the smaller, untested Matthew Hatton back in 2011. If Mayweather, Timothy Bradley, Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, or any other respectable champion fights Matthew for that belt, they would get crucified.
He got the nod over Trout and with that the WBC and WBA titles along with the Ring Magazine title. Ring Magazine is owned by his promoter Oscar De La Hoya.
Alvarez has the look, the punching power and style to attract fans. His name has been linked to Mayweather since 2009 and has been featured on many of his under cards. His popularity and “legend” is increasing.
He has victories over some prominent names in boxing, albeit they were guys that were past their primes, but he does hold a victory over the best guy in his division, in which the scoring and decision was controversial.
He was given a belt and is gaining experience with every fight. So he is a well put together champion. A product of Golden Boy Promotions, boxing’s Mr. Potato Head.
Alvarez can prove his legend by facing the all of the top guys in his division and potentially other top guys from surrounding weight classes. The unfortunate thing is the junior middleweight (154) and middleweight divisions (160) aren’t particularly strong with a depth of talent at this current time.
But fighting guys like Erislandy Lara, Ishe Smith and Carlos Molina who are in his division helps his cause. Fighting Sergio Martinez, Gennady Golovkin and Peter Quillin and middleweight helps his cause as well.
Thus far he has proven to be more myth than legend.
It’s hard to be too critical of a guy who has over 40 fights and turn 23 later this year. But with how he is being packaged and promoted as one of the best of the sport without taking the all the risks and passing the all tests that is required of being recognized as truly great, the jury is still out on how the legend of Alvarez will unfold.