By: Hans Themistode
Canelo Alvarez has been called many names. A champion, a warrior, maybe even a prima-donna. But an underachiever? Never.
When Alvarez first came onto the boxing scene in 2005, he was viewed as a good fighter.
Wins over Matthew Hatton and Ryan Rhodes pushed him from good to very good. While victories over Carlos Baldomir and Josesito Lopez nudged him to the great category.
In early 2013, Alvarez seemingly hit his peak. He was fresh off a win against Shane Mosley and managed to unify the Super Welterweight division with a close win over Austin Trout.
For as great as Alvarez was, it seemed to be time to place him amongst the all-time greats. But a contest against Floyd Mayweather put an end to that thought as Alvarez lost virtually every round.
A loss as embarrassing as that one, often carries terrible after effects on the rest of a fighters career.
Simply put, once you’ve been dominated in that fashion, it just isn’t easy to bounce back from it.
Yet, in the case of Alvarez, that is exactly what he did. He picked up quick wins against Alfredo Angulo and Erislandy Lara in 2014. He then followed that up with even better wins against James Kirkland and Miguel Cotto.
But a funny thing happened during the course of those big wins. He got better and better.
The butt kicking that Alvarez suffered at the hands of Mayweather apparently molded him into a much better fighter. Some would even venture to say that he stole a few things from Mayweather and placed them into his own game.
With wins over Gennadiy Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Kovalev, it’s safe to say that it doesn’t seem as though Alvarez is a finished product just yet. But according to his next opponent WBO Super Middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, that’s an idiotic statement.
“For me it’s all about winning. I really do rate him. I think that he’s a brilliant fighter, he’s complete, but the thing is – I believe that we’ve seen the best of him. We haven’t seen the best of me yet. I have seen the absolute best of him. The Golovkin fight twice, the Danny Jacobs fight, he’s not going to get any better than that.”
To say that Saunders isn’t exactly the biggest fan of Alvarez would be putting it mildly. For years, he’s called his man every bad word in the dictionary, but it’s worked. He’s trash talked his way to the biggest fight of his career and is now in a position where he has to back his words up.
Still, even with all of the bad blood between them Saunders is no fool. The trash talking that he used to score a fight with Alvarez paid off. But he knows exactly what he’s dealing with.
“I rate him as the best pound-for-pound at the moment. For me to defeat him, it’s just not about money. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all in it for the money. But for me, if they were to say, ‘you’re definitely going to win, but you’re going to go home and you’re not having a penny, I’d say ‘yes, let’s do that,'” Saunders said on Instagram Live.
“I believe on my night, as long as everything is bang on right for me, I believe I’ve got the beating of Canelo Alvarez, but he’s a brilliant champion. You have to beat the best to be the best.”
Saunders, unlike Canelo, has been viewed as a bit of an underachiever. One minute he looks unbeatable just as he did in his wins against Andy Lee, Willie Monroe Jr and David Lemieux. Other times, like in his dreadful performance against Marcelo Coceres, you wonder how he got his hands on a world title to begin with.
Both Alvarez had been slated to face off against one another on May 2nd, however, with the Coronavirus currently putting a halt on seemingly everything, their contest has been pushed back to an unspecified date.
Regardless of when they actually do step into the ring against one another, Saunders will need to resemble the best version of himself if he expects to leave with a victory on the night.