When you are Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and you have the potential to be boxing's next big star, it comes down to one thing: how hard you work on your weaknesses.
At 22 years old, Alvarez (42-0-1) is a work in progress. He still has much to learn about the intricacies of boxing. But look at him against Shane Mosley in May 2012, and then look at him against Austin Trout in April 2013. There is a significant difference.
The first thing that jumps out to you is Alvarez's vast improvement on defense. While the older, slower Mosley connected on a dismal 25 percent of his punches against Alvarez, he did land 41 percent of his power punches, according to CompuBox.
Fast forward to Alvarez's fight against a younger opponent in Trout. Trout connected on just 20 percent of his punches, including a mediocre 27 percent of his power shots, via CompuBox. A lot of that had to do with the fact that Alvarez's head movement was significantly better. In short, he didn't simply look like an offensive-minded power puncher—he showed that he cares about defense, too. That is what fans should be excited about the most because it shows that Alvarez is truly a rising star, not just someone who gets by on his power.
Check out a beautiful defensive sequence by Alvarez in the video below.
Also, while Alvarez landed just 29 percent of his punches against Trout, he connected on 43 percent of his power punches, which, by the way, did significant damage. That included scoring a knockdown in the seventh round. This was against a fighter labeled a defensive wizard.
You can't tell from the percentage of punches landed against Trout, but Alvarez actually showed better combinations against Trout than he did against Mosley. He's showing a more well-rounded game and he's still a very young fighter.
Check out some nice combinations by Alvarez in the video below.
There's also the fact that Alvarez continues to look like a very composed boxer despite his age. His heart is unquestioned. You'll remember against Mosley he suffered an accidental head-butt early on, but responded by throwing a few compact punches that landed square and backed Mosley up. He also showed more discipline against Trout, evidenced by Trout's inability to do any serious damage against him.
Were you encouraged by Alvarez's defense against Trout?
There are still some things Alvarez needs to work on, of course. He could stand to be more aggressive, for one. Despite landing some savage body shots against Mosley in the ninth round, he didn't go in for the kill. Against Trout, he didn't throw enough punches in my mind (significantly fewer than he did against Mosley).
Questions also come up about Alvarez's endurance, as Vivek Wallace of EastSideBoxing.com noted. It was evident in the later rounds against Trout that he slowed down a bit. It led to another victory via unanimous decision when we know full well that Alvarez has the power to stop his foes before it reaches the scorecards.
But one thing's for sure: Alvarez has been working on his defense and his overall game, and that's frankly scary. If he can continue to build on his defensive performance against Trout, he will rise to astronomical levels.