Saul "Canelo" Alvarez failed to catapult himself to legendary status against Floyd Mayweather, but you haven't seen the last of this young fighter.
The 23-year-old's inexperience showed against the older, wiser Mayweather. Alvarez failed to increase his knockout total to 31, which should not have come as a shock against the now 45-0 pound-for-pound champion.
The real surprise, however, is the ease in which Mayweather cruised to victory. According to CompuBox, "Money" connected on 46 percent of his punches while Alvarez landed just 22 percent. Leading up to the fight, all of Alvarez's chances revolved around his ability to out-muscle his opponent, but Mayweather hit 20 more power strikes throughout the night.
Mayweather also dominated with head shots, as highlighted by ESPN Stats & Info.
As tracked by us, Floyd Mayweather had a 186-62 edge over Canelo Alvarez in punches to the head. #TheOne— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 15, 2013
Alvarez was outclassed by the best in the world. It was as clear as day to everyone other than C.J. Ross. Nonetheless, Canelo will use the rough fight as a learning experience and come back stronger.
Entering Saturday night with a 42-0-1 record, Alvarez had faced little adversity along the path to his major fight. This obstacle will do wonders to test his resolve, more so than pummeling a hapless opponent.
While Mayweather has yet to endure the crippling despair of defeat, his path is an outlier that others cannot realistically attempt to replicate.
And even he ran into some roadblocks down the path. On April 20, 2002, Jose Luis Castillo landed more punches (203) than Mayweather (157) at a higher success rate (40 percent to 35 percent), yet Mayweather escaped with a victory by decision.
How different would Mayweather's career trajectory look if he had lost that fight at age 25? While he would have lost a significant chunk of the luster that comes from his undefeated record, he'd still be a marquee draw at 44-1.
Even the greatest boxer alive went through some growing pains as a young pup, even if it's not indicative in his win-loss mark. Alvarez was not as fortunate, but the buildup to this Las Vegas fight alone put his name on the map. Casual boxing fans and Mayweather's supporters now know who Alvarez is, and the underdog might gain some sympathy points for falling short.
The MGM Grand Garden Area fans rested firmly on Canelo's side, further solidifying Mayweather's tenure as boxing's greatest heel. Part of the hero cycle entails handling challenges along the way.
Having started his career in Mexico at a young age, Alvarez is already well ahead of the curve. Most competitors are still climbing up the ladder at age 23, but he proved worthy of garnering a colossal fight with boxing's top star.
The 36-year-old will have to abdicate his throne eventually, and by then Canelo could be ready to seize the crown.