Alvarez vs. Lopez: Canelo Must Raise Level of Competition After Dominant Victory

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 15:  Canelo Alvarez reacts after knocking out Josesito Lopez during their WBC super  welterweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 15, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images)
Josh Hedges/Getty Images

If there were any questions about Saul "Canelo" Alvarez's ability to handle pressure, he answered them with an easy win over Josesito Lopez. It was a fight he was supposed to win handily, and he did. Now it's time to look for a higher-profile opponent.

Alvarez dominated the Saturday night fight from the opening bell until the fifth-round knockout, further establishing himself as one of boxing's most promising stars. At 22, he's already won 41 fights without a single loss.

Yet, none of those wins came against elite competition. He defeated Shane Mosley earlier in the year, but Mosley clearly wasn't on the same level he was during his prime. Aside from that, Alvarez has simply taken care of business against lower-level opponents.

While it's actually a wise approach to building a young fighter into a formidable force, eventually the undefeated record will start to ring hollow unless he's able to knock off some more capable foes.

The Mexican sensation has already proven he can draw a crowd, which means a fight against a fellow star like Floyd Mayweather, Sergio Martinez or Miguel Cotto should lead to a massive audience and plenty of hype.

It would also give boxing fans a much better look at what Alvarez can do. Beating up on a foe like Lopez, who entered the bout as a heavy underdog and looked like it every step of the way, doesn't really prove much in the grand scheme of things.

Fights against guys like Mayweather or Martinez would serve as a far better measuring stick to see whether or not Alvarez is worthy of the hype. Judging by his performances to date, he should be able to hold his own at the very least.

To his credit, he said after Saturday's win that he's willing to fight anybody. His claim was backed up by his promoter, Richard Schaefer, according to the Associated Press.

Other promoters believe in marinating. I don't. You never know what's going to happen in life. If there's an opportunity to have a big fight, and it's something that fans want to see, I think you have an obligation to your fighter to get him in there.

While it's good to see that type of talk coming from Alvarez's camp, boxing fans aren't going to get overexcited about words alone. As illustrated during the talks between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, saying it and doing it are two completely different things.

Hopefully the Alvarez team isn't bluffing. In reality, they have no reason to. If he's going to become the megastar his early career would suggest, he has to prove he can handle himself against worthy opponents sooner rather than later.

Let's hope it's sooner, as in his next fight.