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Canelomania: Saul Alvarez in line to be era-defining

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Saul Alvarez continues to impress, and at just 20, could be boxing's next great star. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Saul Alvarez continues to impress, and at just 20, could be boxing's next great star. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Ted Sares returns to Bad Left Hook this afternoon to examine a young fighter many feel has the necessary tools to be a great star: Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.

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If anyone wasn't convinced that 'Canelo' Alvarez is a future world champion, they have to be believers now...At just 20 years old, he knocked out a tough former world champion who had only been knocked out one time in 64 fights and that was 16 years ago. He is going to be a star in this sport for a long time, and we're proud to have him on our team.

--Oscar De La Hoya

His record as a professional is not a mirage nor is it littered with many meaningless fights to beef it up.

--Paula Duffy

For me, each era in boxing seemed to have a guy who was right for the time. The 1940's had "The Brown Bomber, "Joe Louis and he transcended the sport. Sugar Ray Robinson dazzled every one with his superb skills. Then along came Ali and he too transcended boxing. He was in sync with his era as much as anyone could ever be. Sugar Ray Leonard picked up the mantle and then handed it off to the "Golden Boy," Oscar De La Hoya. These days, Manny Pacquiao seems to be the MAN, but as he gets a tad long in the tooth, speculation is beginning for who might be next.

And that brings me to Mexican welterweight sensation Saul "Canelo" Alvarez who hails from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Canelo is Spanish for Cinnamon and reflects Saul's red hair. His current record is 34-0-1 with 26 coming by way of stoppage. In 2004 he won the silver medal at the Junior Mexican National championships and became the 2005 Junior Mexican National Boxing Champion at the age of 15.

Now at just 20 years of age but mature far beyond his chronological age, he is quickly becoming a complete fighter who reminds me more of an early Salvador Sanchez than Julio Cesar Chavez in his manner and style. At 5'10" tall, he possesses a big upper torso with a huge back and broad shoulders. He also has deceptive speed and when he shoots his left hooks followed by right crosses, the intent is pure evil.

His record is also telling in that he beat Miguel Vazquez twice. This was the same Vazquez who recently beat South Korean Ji-Hoon Kim for the IBF lightweight title. Vazquez also beat Breidis Prescott who in turn waxed Amir Khan. In 2008, Canelo iced Raul Pinzon in one. This was the same Pinzon who put Ricardo Torres through pure hell before losing in the 10th and final round in Colombia. He also likely put an end to Larry Mosley's career in 2008. Mosley had draws with Golden Johnson and Miguel Figueroa before losing to Canelo. Included among his victims are a Russian, Colombian, Puerto Rican and several Americans. While not quite an equal opportunity practioner, he shows promise here as well. Canelo has stopped 11 of his last 12 foes including the never-before-stopped Jose Miguel Cotto and granite chin Carlos Baldomir. Baldomir later said, "It is true that he hits very hard. He is the real deal. No one has hit me like he has."

"Canelo, Canelo, Canelo"

Maybe it's the good looks, red hair and freckles strewn across his prominent chin and thick shoulders. Reportedly Saul is dating the 27 year old Marisol Gonzalez, Miss Mexico Universe 2003 and now a sports reporter for Televisa Depotes. De La Hoya (his promoter), in a rare moment of "humility," recently said that not since himself (Oscar) had a boxer attracted so many female fans. . Whatever it is, the chants ring out and Canelo is now the most popular boxer in Mexico, thanks to his exciting style and unmistaken charisma.

What I personally think is that both casual fans and aficionados see something in Álvarez that reminds them of great fighters of the past. The electric connection with his fans (Chacon), the in and out movement (Sanchez), the balance as he sets himself (Ramos), his ring movement (an early Sanchez), and his ability to close once he has his man hurt (Danny Lopez). Sure, lots of new guys have parts of that repertoire, but not many are 20 years old and that's the thing. He is 20 years old but he fight like a guy much older. He also has just enough vulnerability to punctuate his exciting style. Cotto had him hurt and on the verge, but he came back stronger than ever.

The other part of Canelomania is that if he is on the undercard of PPV, he is the attraction. This will change soon as his undercard days are quickly coming to an end.

The Future

The future belongs to Canelo. He and his team are now rising to the peak of the bell shaped curve which translates to pocketing big paydays and fighting solely on PPV'S. In short, he will ride the crest of the wave called "Canelomania." However, ring age and chronological age are two distinct things. He and his handlers must know when he begins to move to the right hand side of the curve. Sugar Shane Mosley offers a good case in point.

I see him fighting one or two more relatively easy bouts (maybe in Mexico) and then headlining a big venue. Andre Berto is out there and so is Sugar Shane Mosley, but clearly Alvarez would be the wrong fight for Mosley. Maybe Mosley fights Berto and Canelo gets the winner. Perhaps a worn Miguel Cotto might want some brotherly redemption. A good matchup might be against German Jan Zaveck (28-1) or maybe even against Joshua Clottey whose turtle defense would make for an interesting combination for Alvarez to crack. But I wouldn't rush into a fight with Timothy Bradley just yet.

Bottom Line: I am now a member of "Canelomania" hook, line and sinker, as I believe he may well be the next great fighter for the coming era, a mantle Manny Pacquiao now holds. We will know soon enough.