By: Sergio L. Martinez
On September 15, 2012, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez easily disposed of the game but severely outweighed and outgunned Josesito Lopez. The fight went as expected: but for the exception of a few rallies by Lopez, Alvarez simply overpowered a blown-up junior welterweight. Showtime televised the fight and had their commentators doing their best to sell it as a competitive affair, but for as much as it was exciting at times, there was no way that Lopez could have won that fight.
Alvarez and his brain trust have made it a habit of placing the young Mexican in situations where victory is a foregone conclusion. Since 2010, the redheaded Mexican has faced pugs either one or two weight classes too small to compete with Alvarez and/or a bevy of “has-beens” or “never were” types. Each time, Canelo did as he pleased in the ring and coasted to decision victories or ended fights via knockout, experiencing little in the way of resistance.
Although he does appear to be very talented, have legitimate boxing skills and some pop in both fists, it is hard to gauge Alvarez as a fighter because, up to this point, his ascension looks more like a con job than a developmental track.
It is often said that he is only twenty-two years old and is still a work in progress. This may be so, but he also has a world title belt and is headlining major network shows with pay-per-view shows on the horizon. I understand that boxing is a business, but if fans are going to be made to pay big money, then promoters and fighters need to hold their end and agree to big fights against top competition.
Since winning the vacant WBC Light Middleweight title against Matthew Hatton in March of 2011, Alvarez has logged five defenses. His challengers– Ryan Rhodes, Alfonso Gomez, Kermit Cintron, Shane Mosley and now Josesito Lopez–were not exactly a murderous gang. All of those fighters were either too small, shot, and/or too old at the time they faced Alvarez.
For as great as Mosley was at one time, he was a shell of himself at the time he laced up the gloves against the redheaded Mexican. Still, Alvarez has managed to get major television dates, has had profiles on major networks and is considered one of Mexico’s best at the present time. Although he is definitely a celebrity, no one can honestly say that it is truly known that he is a fighter of any true substance, so how can be considered as one of the best?
Styles may make fights, but style alone does not make a great fighter.
There is a simple remedy for Alvarez: fight a top-tier 154-pound fighter in his next defense. There are plenty of them around. Floyd Mayweather Jr. would be the ultimate move at 154. James Kirkland would also be solid competition. Even the cagey Carlos Molina would be a major step-up from the level of competition that has been brought before Alvarez.
If he were to drop a competitive loss to any of the aforementioned, it would not end his career and would give everyone an honest assessment of where Mexico’s alleged future stands and how far away he is from the elite level.
Finally, the responsibility ultimately falls on the fighter himself. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is a testament to this, as it is certain that Bob Arum would not have chosen to put the young pug in with the experienced and highly skilled Sergio Martinez, but Chavez Jr. was determined to test himself in order to have a shot at boxing immortality, and the fight was made.
As many expected, Chavez Jr. had his moments and almost pulled off the upset in the final round, but ended up soundly beaten by Martinez. Despite the loss, Chavez Jr. will move on with his career and earned the respect of many in the boxing fraternity for seeking out a real challenge with the intent to achieve greatness.
It is now Canelo’s turn to prove that he honestly wants to achieve boxing greatness and not just fleece boxing fans.