At just 21 years of age Saul "Canelo" Alvarez has strung together 38 wins against just one draw and no losses to speak of. Along with the WBC junior middleweight title, he has amassed a rabid following in his home country of Mexico which is rapidly spilling over into the United States.
The Golden Boy product will be showcased opposite former IBF welterweight title holder, Kermit "The Killer" Cintron (38-4-1, 28 KOs) in the main event slot of Saturday night's HBO Boxing After Dark Telecast in Mexico City.
It's the latest chapter of the storied rivalry between Mexicans and Puerto Ricans squaring off in the ring. While the rivalry is a deep one, it's one that Alvarez isn't admitting to giving much thought to. Alvarez maintains that it's the skills of Cintron that have kept him motivated, rather than the racially charged rivalry, he stated to the media in an international teleconference.
You have to be [motivated] when you’re fighting against a Puerto Rican fighter and a great ex-champion. But more than anything I’m motivated because I’m fighting a good fighter, a fighter that has a lot of experience. So the level of competition is actually what has me excited in this fight.
Cintron most recently scored a 10-round unanimous decision over Antwone Smith this past August, which marked his first win in nearly two years. The nod over Smith came just a month after dropping a decision to Carlos Molina as well as a bizarre technical decision loss to Paul Williams in May of last year.
Many would say that Cintron's better days are well behind him and that's precisely why he was chosen as Alvarez's current opponent. Golden Boy Promotions was quick to refute that notion.
"We picked him because he’s the next step in Canelo’s development, and he’s one of the top fighters in the world, and it’s time to face these top fighters," said Eric Gomez of Golden Boy Promotions.
"So by no way are we taking him because we think he’s weak, or he’s done, or he sucks, or anything like that. Kermit Cintron’s a legitimate world title type fighter. He’s a former world champion, and he’s fought some of the best fighters in the world, and he deserves to be on this kind of stage. And that’s the reason we’re doing this fight," he continued.
Whether you agree with Gomez or not, there is no debating that Cintron poses one of the toughest tests so far in Canelo's bright but young career. While a victory for Cintron isn't viewed as highly likely, he can certainly provide Alvarez with a tough night if he keeps his head in the game.
I do agree with Gomez in that this is a good opponent for the progression of the Mexican youngster. A win over Cintron puts him on track toward an eventual showdown with some of the division's bigger names, such as fellow Mexican phenom Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. or the winner of the upcoming rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito.
That's somewhere down the road, and Alvarez isn't thinking about those matchups.
"You know what, I’m not worried about Julio, I’m not thinking about that. I’m thinking about making a statement or anything. I’m concentrating on the fight, I just got to do my job. I do my job, I don’t worry about other things, I’m not influenced by anybody else. I have to fight Kermit Cintron, I’m worried about this fight and that’s all," Alvarez said.
I'm confident that in time Alvarez will end up in the squared circle with all of those marquee names that we're hoping for.
But for right now, it comes down to Saul Alvarez and Kermit Cintron.
Everything else can wait.
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