In an era of boxing that finds young fighters built up with unjustified promises of greatness, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is proving to be the real deal.
On Saturday, Canelo defended his WBC Light Middleweight Championship for the third time against Puerto Rican veteran Kermit Cintron.
Canelo won his belt from Englishman Matthew Hatton, brother to Ricky, but it was Cintron who was widely expected to be the biggest test in Alvarez’s fledgling career.
If there were any doubts about Canelo as a force in boxing, they were quickly alleviated as Alvarez took the fight to Cintron from the start, dominating the first round and punctuating it with a hard left hook to Cintron’s head to hurt him.
After that, the veteran looked scared to engage with the prodigy, who picked his shots expertly. Cintron did not want anything to do with Canelo’s power and visibly withered away.
Following a fourth-round barrage of combination punches, a right to the head followed by a left uppercut finally dropped Cintron to the canvas. Cintron then got up with a minute left in the round and was saved by the bell after being rocked by yet another slick Canelo combination.
In the fifth round, under the referee’s watchful eye, Cintron was being used as a punching bag by Alvarez. After a superb four-punch combination connected to the troubled Puerto Rican, the referee was forced to stop the fight at 2:53 in the round.
Pure domination from Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in an impressive performance.
Alvarez, widely referred to just as Canelo—"cinnamon" in English, due to his ginger hair and pale skin—is an unlikely Mexican sporting hero.
Mexico is a country that has produced so many great fighters over the years, including Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Ricardo Lopez and Julio Cesar Chavez.
Incidentally, arguably Mexico’s greatest fighter of all time, Chavez is the father of Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., another Mexican boxing prodigy.
While Canelo might not look like the typical Mexican boxer, he certainly fights like one. Mexican fighters are known for their tenacity and heart, and while he does have these attributes, Canelo possesses a technical prowess way beyond his meager 21 years.
That’s the scary thing with Canelo: He is only 21 years old. In this time, he has amassed an impressive record of 39 wins and one draw.
After the fight, Canelo called out modern great Floyd Mayweather, Jr. for a fight, but it’s the fight with fellow Mexican upstart Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.. that looks to be the most intriguing.
Both Canelo and Chavez are young world champions, hyped, unbeaten and supremely talented. They are only one weight division apart, so the fight could happen. But would promoters want to risk potentially damaging a career they could make money from? Doubtful.
Canelo is not ready for the likes of Mayweather yet, but you can’t help but feel excited about the potential of Saul Alvarez in the international boxing picture.