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Saul Alvarez vs Matthew Hatton Afterthoughts: What's Next for Canelo?

LAS VEGAS - MAY 01:  Saul Alvarez of Mexico reacts after knocking out Jose Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico in the ninth round during the welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
James FoleyCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2011

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez put on a clinic Saturday night, and poor Matthew Hatton never had a chance.

Coming into the fight, one imagined that maybe, just maybe, if Hatton could get inside and land a couple good shots, he could hurt Alvarez early and try to make things interesting. Then, the opening bell rang and reality set in. Hatton did manage to get inside, and he did even land a couple shots, however the shots he took back in return were much harder and much cleaner.

Give Hatton credit, he never stopped coming. But in the end, this fight was a clear mismatch. Many have written that it was an entertaining scrap, despite the inevitability of the result. Indeed, there were many nice exchanges (90% of them won by Canelo). The heart of Hatton and the skills and power of Canelo were definitely on full display, and quite enjoyable to witness. Unfortunately, the problem was that the outcome was never in doubt.

Early on, it was clear Hatton didn't have enough to bother Canelo. There was a notable size difference, and Canelo was the superior boxer throughout. Hatton was wily as always (dropping twice on hits during a break, once earning a point, and clinching late in the fight when Canelo was doing damage), but Canelo had the advantage in every imaginable category. At least the underdog usually has the crowd behind him, but not here, where the raucous Mexican fans viciously booed the Hatton brothers all night. In the end, Hatton was helpless and hopeless. Many kudos to him for surviving through the 12th round in a fight where most predicted he would be knocked out.

So where does that leave Alvarez? How good is he? Who will he fight next?

On those questions, the fans seem to lean toward the extremes, either he's overrated, should have knocked Hatton out, or he's ready to be a champion and go ahead and put him in with Cotto, Sergio and Manny. The writers are preaching patience: he's a very good fighter, delivered a masterly performance against a respectable veteran in Hatton, but he's clearly not ready for the likes of Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto, truly world-class fighters who have faced the highest degree of difficulty in terms of opposition.

My personal opinion is there's no reason at all to criticize him for not knocking Hatton out. That's absurd. Alvarez was dominating the fight, clearly. He had no reason to aggressively push for a knockout anytime after the seventh round. He gained a lot of experience from being in there for 12 rounds against a crafty boxer like Hatton. He can learn from the way Hatton clinched and avoided him in the last stanza. No, Hatton wasn't running, he got in there and fought, but his defense was exceptional against a guy with the power and artistry of Canelo. In the end, the knockout simply wasn't there and Canelo had no reason to press for it.

Canelo is nowhere close to fighting the likes of Martinez or Cotto yet, that's preposterous. Look at the last five guys they fought. Look at who he's fought. People have brought up Cintron as a measuring stick—are they crazy?! Unless Cintron flies out of the ring in a bizarre spectacle and is unable to continue, I would have to like the chances of a guy who's been in the ring with the best in his weight class and whose only career losses are to Antonio "loaded gloves" Margarito and the aforementioned Paul Williams incident. The guy who gave Alfredo Angulo his lone "L". Cintron would feast on Saul Alvarez right now (in a year, maybe not). Golden Boy knows this. 

My prediction: a title defense against a respectable, but outgunned opponent (who will somehow earn WBC #1 contender ranking, no chance they put him in with their current number one, Angulo). And then, in the fall....on PPV....rising star, WBC champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez versus.....coming off a devastating, one-sided loss to pound-for-pound world number one Manny Pacquiao and at the ripe, young age of forty...."Sugar" Shane Mosley!!!

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