Bad Left Hook Fight Preview: Saul Alvarez v. Carlos Baldomir

Canelo Alvarez returns to action against Carlos Baldomir on Saturday night. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

This fight between 20-year-old action fighter Alvarez and former welterweight Cinderella Man Baldomir will be the main co-feature on Saturday's PPV card. This is the second time this year that Alvarez has been in a coveted spot on an HBO pay-per-view, which already speaks highly of his reputation with the network and his potential earning power.

It's an all-out fighter kid against a tough old man, more or less. How will it work out in the end?

Junior Middleweights - 12 Rounds
Saul Alvarez v. Carlos Baldomir

The WBC has put up one of their "silver" titles for this one, something they seem to love doing for just about any even semi-notable Mexican fighter in any division. Hey, I don't know, maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm wrong and Jose Sulaiman and his cronies do not consistently display serious and troubling bias. Maybe this didn't happen either.

But apart from that, there's still a fight behind all the money-grubbing bulls**t, so let's focus on that for a moment.

Alvarez (33-0-1, 25 KO) made a lot of new fans in May when he was featured on the Mayweather-Mosley card. I did a couple of radio shows after that fight, and on both of them, the first thing discussed was this kid Saul Alvarez. Before we got into Mayweather-Mosley, these guys wanted to know about Saul Alvarez, who busted his ass in a TKO-9 win over Jose Miguel Cotto. Alvarez was rocked in the opening round of that fight, but it came from being aggressive. In addition to this 19-year-old kid going all-out against a tough, strong-fisted veteran who also came to fight, you had the kid proving out against resistance and showing heart and determination, not to mention little concern over the fact that oh, heavens to Betsy, I've been rocked.

There is ego to Alvarez, but it's useful ego. He's not concerned with looking flawless or being extra safe to not get into a fight in the middle of his TV payday. He's a fighter, and he wants to fight. He looks like the next great Mexican warrior. This will mean he will probably lose some fights. He's not perfect. He's not close to perfect. But he's got a lot of guts.

Mostly, Alvarez has burned through middling fighters to date, which is what you would expect. He debuted on October 29, 2005, getting in another fight in November of that year. Since the calendar turned to 2006, Alvarez has averaged 6.8 fights per year. Now that he's with a power promoter (Golden Boy), he has slowed down a hair, and this will be his fourth fight in 2010. This year, he has beaten Brian Camechis (KO-3), Cotto, and Luciano Cuello (TKO-6). The latter fight in July was another eye-opener. In 2009, Cuello gave Alvarez's press rival Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. a tough 10-round test. Alvarez beat the crap out of him.

He takes what is on paper a step up on Saturday, but really it's just a sideways shuffle. Carlos Baldomir (45-12-6, 14 KO) really presents no challenge for Alvarez that he hasn't already overcome. Baldomir shocked the world with what was probably the Upset of the Decade in 2006 when he knocked off welterweight champion Zab Judah to claim the lineal and legitimate crown at 147 pounds. His first defense came on HBO against the late Arturo Gatti, which was one of those fights that was set up with no bad outcome for the suits. Either a "resurgent" Gatti would claim the lineal welterweight championship against a flash in the pan, or the flash in the pan would add Gatti's scalp to his win list, setting up a PPV fight with Floyd Mayweather. The latter happened, as Baldomir ravaged a shot Gatti, who couldn't even dent the sturdy Argentinian.

But after Gatti, it has been back to reality for Carlos Baldomir. His coach turned into a pumpkin in a big way. Baldomir was made to look like a hack against Mayweather, whose speed and movement had Baldomir appear to be in concrete shoes with his feet chained together. Eight months later, he moved up to 154 and fought the late Vernon Forrest for a vacant 154-pound belt, which Mayweather had vacated after winning it from Oscar de la Hoya. As an aside, Baldomir became friendly with Mayweather after their fight, and reports were that Mayweather was elated to have Baldomir get another crack at a belt after he vacated the junior middleweight strap. Baldomir also served as an important sparring partner for Mayweather as he prepared to fight Ricky Hatton later in 2007.

Forrest dominated Baldomir, as Mayweather had, and at 36 and with back-to-back wide losses to superior boxers under his belt, the tough fighter was faced with where to go next. He took a 10-round majority decision in his next bout against Luciano Perez, then took 13 months off before losing to Jackson Bonsu back at welterweight in December 2008. 11 months later, Baldomir returned again and beat journeyman Jairo Jesus Siris in Argentina.

He's been inactive since losing to Mayweather, and has really fought just the one world-class fighter (Forrest) since then. His fight with Bonsu was very close, but Alvarez is a different animal than Bonsu. For a guy who started his career 24-9-4, Baldomir has done pretty well for himself, but we know what he is, and he's past that brief and stunning peak.

Grading the Fighters

ALVAREZ   BALDOMIR
B+ Punching Power D+
B Hand Speed C-
C Defense C
B+ Punch Resistance
A-
A Heart A-

Baldomir really can't punch at all, and at 39, that's not likely to have improved. The punch may be the last thing to go, but he never had one to begin with. That should tell you just how worn-out Arturo Gatti was by the time he fought Baldomir and later Alfonso Gomez, another light puncher who knocked out the brave Gatti. Alvarez can crack, with above average one-punch power and really good accumulative power. Baldomir's hand speed isn't really all that terrible. He's slower of foot than of hand. If he can get close enough, you discover he's just below average for a top fighter in that regard. Neither have ever been terribly concerned with defense. For Alvarez, it's a sign of his youth, and for Baldomir, just the way he had to fight to get anywhere. Baldomir can still take a hell of a shot. In his 12 career losses, he's been stopped just once -- in 1994, in his seventh pro fight. Alvarez is, to use a cliche, full of piss and vinegar still, and is really, really hard to deter. People have tried punching him in the face and everything.

Star Power

Relevance:

Alvarez is an emerging star, but Baldomir is just an opponent for him. What little name value Carlos Baldomir might still have is coming with him to Los Angeles on Saturday, with the full expectation that he'll use it to give the kid some more rub. Alvarez has almost every advantage in this fight. It's a showcase.

Good Fight Potential:

It might not wind up competitive, but Baldomir doesn't shy away from action and Alvarez does nothing but bring action. This will likely be perfectly entertaining, even if it's a whupping.

Overall Pre-Fight Score:

It's a showcase for a WBC paper trinket they felt like throwing into the fight and Baldomir hasn't done anything in years now. There are good things to say about this fight (it likely won't suck to watch), and it's easy to accept it for what it is, but no, it's not a particularly good fight when you cut past the crap.

Prediction

Carlos Baldomir has not been stopped in 16 years. I think that run ends on Saturday. Alvarez is too ferocious, too aggressive, and too strong for the 39-year-old Baldomir. Baldomir doesn't have the power to keep Alvarez off of him long enough over 12 rounds. Carlos may not ever hit the canvas, but I don't think he goes all 36 minutes. It could well be his final fight, and you can do worse in boxing than going out with a fine payday. Alvarez TKO-10

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