Saul Alvarez Beats Matthew Hatton for Vacant WBC Junior Middleweight Title

Brian O. BlakeCorrespondent IMarch 7, 2011

WBC Junior Middleweight Champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez
WBC Junior Middleweight Champion Saul "Canelo" AlvarezHarry How/Getty Images

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is without a doubt one of the most intriguing fighters that boxing has to offer.

His nickname translates to cinnamon and was appropriately given to him because of his red hair. That, along with his freckled face, would leave one understandably pegging him as from the Emerald Isle—not his native Jalisco, Mexico. What's more, the fact he’s just 20 years old and already has 36 fights to his credit can make the ears of any fight fan perk up.

More importantly, the kid can flat out fight.

Up until a year ago, the 5′9″ wunderkind was one of Mexico’s best kept secrets. While many fight fans in the United States were watching the storied careers of Mexican legends Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera come to an end, Alvarez was quietly making a name for himself south of the border at a very steady pace.

Having turned pro just a few months after his 15th birthday, Alvarez strung together a few wins before facing the only hiccup of his career to-date—a four round draw against Jorge Juarez.

Just a couple of years later, Alvarez got his first taste of a championship as he picked up a regional strap in the form of the WBA Fedecentro welterweight title. Not long after that, he made his United States debut as he outpointed Larry Mosley to pick up a 10 round unanimous decision at the Morongo Casino Resort in southern California.

Last year, he caught the eye of several American promotional outfits and was eventually signed by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.

He was immediately put to work on the undercard of the highly anticipated clash between Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley, providing Alvarez with the biggest audience of his young career. That night he survived a few shaky moments to come back and defeat Jose Cotto, older brother of current WBA junior middleweight champ, Miguel Cotto.

In the past year, Alvarez stopped Luciano Ceullo in the sixth stanza to earn the WBC Silver 154 lbs title, then gained further exposure with big televised wins over former world champions Carlos Baldomir and Lovemore N’Dou via a sixth round KO and a 12 round unanimous decision, respectively.

Just weeks before his most recent bout, it was announced that due to Manny Pacquiao dropping back down to the welterweight division to face Shane Mosley, his WBC junior middleweight crown would be vacated and ultimately placed on the line when Alvarez stepped into the ring to face Manchester’s Matthew Hatton.

From the moment the bell sounded to kick off the HBO televised main event, it was apparent that Hatton, a career welterweight, was in over his head against the younger Alvarez.

Nothing that the 29 year old Hatton landed seemed to have much of an effect on the bigger and stronger Alvarez. In fact, the only time Alvarez faced any sort of adversity in their 12 round clash was when referee Lou Moret deducted a point from Alvarez for hitting on the break in the seventh round.

Over the course of 12 rounds, Alvarez utilized everything in his arsenal, working both the head and body of Hatton. While impressive, the heart of Hatton would be the only thing to carry him through the fight as nearly 12,000 people cheered on the dominant performance of Alvarez.

Moments after the final bell rang to conclude the first championship fight of Alvarez’ career, he was officially announced as the victor by way of a unanimous decision, with all three judges scoring the bout 119-108 in favor of the Jalisco native.

With the win, he was awarded the coveted WBC 154 lbs strap and became the youngest champion in history to win a championship in the junior middleweight division.

Immediately after the fight, many fans were clamoring for a Mexican standoff between Alvarez and Julio Caesar Chavez, Jr. Although, with the current icy relationship between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, that may just have to wait.

Having just fought days ago, it will be some time before any official word as to who, when and where Alvarez will be back in the ring against is handed down.

The one thing you can count on, however, is that whenever it is and whoever it’s against, the world will watch as the "Canelo Era" has just begun.

And it promises to be an intriguing one.


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