Canelo, The Modern GOAT.
Canelo Alvarez has now won 10 world titles across four weight division, and despite what some want to say to condescend him, Canelo picked up the torch for boxing after Floyd Mayweather left the sport, and Manny Pacquiao became a part-time boxer.
Alvarez, who could go down as the greatest Mexican boxer ever, albeit he still has in-roads, is the most accomplished Mexican boxer, winning world titles in multiple weight classes, and even if people want to try to poke holes in his resume; wins over world champs such as, Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout,Callum Smith, are nothing to sneeze at.
Sure, a few close fights went his way – but no one has ever taken the fight from Canelo, with the possible exception being Golovkin in their first battle, though upon re-watching it, that bout was much closer.
The story of Canelo is improvement.
He came into boxing as a fighter, we were told would be special. Some jumped on for the ride, some looked for every chance to discredit him. As ten-years ago when he was rocked by Jose Miguel Cotto, some looked to say “see I told you he isn’t good,” leaving out Canelo dropped Cotto in the second, and stopped him in the ninth.
When Canelo fought Alfonso Gomez, the veterans tricky habits provided problems in the early rounds for a young Alvarez, as despite a knockdown in the first round and a sixth-round stoppage, the fight left more concerns than praise. At that time we knew Canelo was a star, as he was part of a dual-site PPV, that was headlined by Floyd Mayweather versus Victor Ortiz. Mayweather vs Ortiz occurred at the MGM Grand, Garden Arena, whereas Canelo vs Gomez took place at The Staples Center, in downtown Los Angeles, California.
Canelo at this period of time was viewed as a quality fighter, but also as an attraction – a guy who drew eyeballs based off his look, a red-headed Mexican, who was beloved by Mexico, but many wondered if truly was a next level guy.
Wins over a very old Shane Mosley and Josesito Lopez were events, but didn’t have the fans or writers writing home to their mother to tell them about the feats Canelo was accomplishing. Mosley had resurrected his career by beating Antonio Margarito, who was found to be caught cheating in the locker getting a form of hard object in his gloves by Mosley’s coach, Brother Naazim Richardson. Josesito Lopez was a 140 lbs guy, who came in as a last-minute replacement for Andre Berto, to face Victor Ortiz at 147 lbs, and stopped Ortiz. Lopez moved up one more weight class to fight Canelo, and fought him at 154 lbs, a weight he has never fought at since.
This is where the Canelo career arch gets interesting. Rather than being a popular guy, who makes a ton of money – his pride wouldn’t allow him to just be that. Canelo fought Austin Trout, the man who just beat Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden, in a fight that critics doubted Canelo in.
In a close bout, Canelo saw a knockdown of Trout being the last image of the bout, as Canelo secured one of his first marquee wins.
This bout would lead to Canelo fighting Floyd Mayweather, in a fight that most fighters refer to as a learning experience for Canelo. Mayweather took Canelo to school in this fight, but after this fight Canelo became much harder to hit with elusive head movement, and supreme confidence. It sounds funny to say, but a loss was the best thing to happen to Alvarez as he was a different fighter after he fought Mayweather.
The last memory of the bout was C.J. Ross, who scored the bout a draw, despite most of the press, scoring it a shutout or nor shutout for Mayweather.
Canelo would brutalize Alfredo Angulo in his return on pay-per-view, and defeat the boogeyman of 154 lbs, Erislandy Lara, a Cuban fighter who was heavily avoided at the time, whom Canelo had a close fight with. Detractors, would not give him credit for this win, saying Canelo got favorable cards, as judges as scoring is a theme of Canelo’s career.
Canelo’s last appearance on domestic television was on HBO, in 2015, when Canelo brutally stopped the beloved tough guy of the sport James Kirkland. Kirkland, a will-fighter, just didn’t have enough to combat one of the greats, as Canelo landed a brutal one-punch KO of Kirkland in front of a packed stadium in Texas.
From 2015-onward, Canelo has been the guy in the sport defeating Miguel Cotto, a blown-up Amir Khan who shouldn’t have competed at that weight class except for the check that matched his inflation, Liam Smith and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Canelo after years of hounding and promotional pressure from Gennady Golovkin’s team decided to fight him in September of 2017 paving the way for a definitive proving ground for two of the greats, as Canelo looked to be the best 154 lbs fighter at the time, and Golovkin the best 160 lbs fighter. Many were unsure Canelo could handle Golovkin’s power, as he’d only fought at 160+ lbs the bout prior, against Chavez Jr, who has focus issues, to say the least.
That proved to be all for not, as Canelo took Golovkin’s punches, and built up an early lead before gassing out late. The optics of the fight looked bad, as the rounds, that Canelo lost were much more clear, and the ones he won, were closer – leaving fans feeling as though he had lost the bout. The bout also is memorable as the bout say judge Adalaide Byrd produce an unfathomable score of “118-110” for Canelo, which didn’t seem to depict reality. As the bout was ruled a majority draw with one card for Canelo, one for Golovkin, and one of which reflecting of a tie, an even score.
This was the second time in Nevada, Canelo got a scorecard, that seemed oddly out-of-sync with the fight.
The two were set to do battle in May of 2018, but Canelo failed a drug test, in which he blamed it on Mexican meat containing the substance found in the infraction, as the bout was pushed back.
Beyond that, the normally friendly and cheerful Golovkin had now developed a blood-feud with Canelo that seemed to be career-defining for both men.
In the rematch, Canelo would push back Golovkin for the whole fight, making a mockery of Golovkin’s “Mexican-style” boxing campaign leading into the bout, as Canelo, a proud Mexican, pressed the action while Golovkin tried to control the bout with an active jab, and good footwork. The fight was close, and the judges favored Canelo.
Canelo’s reaction of standing on the ropes in the corner and miming a “shhhh” sound with his index finger in front of his lips said it all. Canelo heard the criticism, and wanted the critics to be quiet.
Canelo had become the guy of his era, by defeating Golovkin, and thus, Golovkin’s run, would always be a little bit under Canelo, if Golovkin could never obtain that win – and on top of that Golovkin is older, and fighting time, as it is meaning, Canelo has no rush to fight him.
Since the Golovkin fight, Canelo signed a massive deal with DAZN, making an already rich fighter richer as he would defeat Rocky Fielding, Daniel Jacobs, and Sergey Kovalev, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During an inactive 2020 brought on by the closures around the world by the pandemic, Canelo sued his long-time promoter Golden Boy Promotions, and left the company not long after.
Canelo’s departure and independence, signifies the final chapter of Canelo Alvarez, who is in the running after it is all said, and done, to be the best Mexican boxer, ever.
His latest beatdown of Callum Smith, super middleweight world champion, showed just how much better he is, than the rest.
Canelo’s legacy is one of being the star from an early point in his career, but facing the best of his generation. Canelo was unapologetically Mexican as he always spoke to his people in Spanish, and never spoke English, even though he fought most of his career in America. Canelo was what a upstart network was built around, and was one of the few stars in boxing who keep global attention as we awaited new stars to emerge.