Could Saul "Canelo"Alvarez hit the "Big Time" with a win against Gomez?Written by Joseph Herron
When Oscar De la Hoya was being touted as the "next big thing" in boxing, his detractors' most rampantly spouted argument was that of legitimate competition.
Most of the Golden Boy's harshest critics would state that De La Hoya was a big man fighting strategically in a little man's division. Oscar would knock the socks off of the majority of the competition in the lightweight division, but wasn't recognized by most as a legitimate superstar until he fought the elite level competition in the junior welterweight and welterweight divisions, such as Julio Cesar Chavez, Pernell Whitaker, and Hector Camacho.
Who will junior middleweight Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (37-0-1, 27 KOs) have to defeat until he's recognized by boxing pundits as a bonafide superstar in boxing?
Earlier this year in Jalisco, Mexico, the boxer most endearingly known by his fans as "Canelo", which means cinnamon in Spanish, wowed most in attendance with a spectacular performance against a globally respected opponent and number one contender, British pugilist Ryan Rhodes (45-5, 31 KOs).
Alvarez demonstrated for a fighter of only 21 years of age that he is a very intelligent pugilist and displayed great poise in defeating the rugged Brit in June. The young Mexican fighter showed that has good power with a varied arsenal of punches, as well as the maturity to mix his shots well with four and five punch combinations.
Although "Canelo" put on a terrific performance worthy of our interest, the 21 year old Mexican prodigy will need a much bigger stepping stone if he plans on leaping to the next level of boxing awareness.
This Saturday night, Saul Alvarez faces the always formidable Alfonso Gomez at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, as the co-main event in the highly publicized, two city Star Power PPV event.
Is Gomez the opponent who will catapult the popular Golden Boy fighter to mainstream stardom?
Although Canelo will be showcasing his talents on the biggest stage in boxing, Alvarez will more than likely have to fight a much more highly regarded 154 pound fighter before he is considered to be "the next best thing in boxing" by most boxing pundits.
If the young Mexican fighter is successful in defeating a tough ring veteran like Gomez, there are a multitude of opponents who could carry his career to the next level of boxing super stardom.
28 year old Mexicali fighter Alfredo Angulo possesses an impressive record of 20-1 with 17 knock-outs and would bring instant credibility to the young fighter's resume.
Miguel Angel Cotto, who has been a great ambassador to the sport of boxing, would also look good on the young man's fight record, even if he is regarded as a champion who is well within the twilight of his career.
Vanes Martirosyan, who won a WBC title eliminator bout against Saul Roman in May, was awarded the well deserved distinction of being the WBC Junior Middleweight mandatory opponent for Canelo Alvarez. Although a fight with Vanes wouldn't do much to capture the imagination of the casual fight fan, it would in fact garner the respect of most boxing pundits.
Paul Williams, who was the victim of a vicious one punch knock-out at the hands of current middleweight champion Sergio Martinez and has been under fire due to a questionable decision victory against Erislandy Lara on July 9th, is still a very credible opponent for Alvarez and would serve as his toughest outing to date.
There are quite a few options for Alvarez at 154lbs, but Canelo's biggest fights realistically reside north, in the land of the middleweights.
A fight that is already being considered by both camps is a national battle between two Mexican favorites: Saul Alvarez, the WBC Junior Middleweight Champion, versus Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the newly crowned WBC Middleweight champion.
This would be a tremendous action fight and could generate huge fan interest, but would more than likely be snubbed by boxing critics around the globe.
The fight that would gather the most respect from fans and critics alike would be a bout with pound for pound fighter Sergio Martinez, who has been labeled as of late, "the most avoided man in boxing".
Although intriguing, most feel that a fight with "Maravilla" is 'too much too soon' for Canelo Alvarez and could prove to be detrimental to the young fighter's future in boxing, as evidenced through the history of another 154 pound champion.
The career path of Fernando Vargas is a perfect example of the dangers of increasing the level of opposition too soon in a young fighter's career.
A 22 year old "El Feroz" faced the 38-0 Puerto Rican legend Felix "Tito" Trinidad in a mega fight which produced a huge gate with millions of pay per view dollars. Although this fight was very lucrative, it proved to be more costly than anticipated for the young 154 pound champion.
After his knock-out loss at the hands of a more mentally mature fighter, young Fernando Vargas went 6-4 in his last ten bouts, while being knocked-out three times by Oscar de La hoya and Sugar Shane Mosley.
Canelo's handlers insist that this will not happen to their fighter.
"The difference between Saul and most other Mexican fighters is that he has a much better defense," states trainer Eddie Reynosa. "He knows how to avoid being hit. He works his legs more, in comparison to the classical Mexican fighter who just charges ahead."
Alvarez has already shown the boxing universe that he is indeed someone who deserves interest; going after his previous opponents and searching for that fan friendly knockout in fights against Carlos Baldomir and Ryan Rhodes. The fight fans want to see that kind of "destroyer" mentality in their favorite fighters and want to see a fighter who will inspire them with a courageous effort in the ring.
The Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya, speaks out on how he feels about his young fighter's potential.
"The audience that he can captivate when he fights truly has no boundaries. This fighter is not only charismatic and is a good looking kid, but he can fight. I've been witness to that, up close and personal. We feel that Saul "Canelo" Alvarez can be the biggest thing that has hailed from Mexico inside that square circle."
With Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather well within their thirties, can Saul "Canelo" Alvarez be that fighter who captures the imagination of casual fight fans for years to come?
Fight fans want to be enthused about a skilled yet entertaining champion; someone who appears to love the sport, and not simply a hefty paycheck.
Although we realize that boxing is indeed a business, it doesn't capture the imagination of the sport's biggest enthusiasts to consistently remind us of this fundamental truth.
Can Canelo carry the future of boxing on his shoulders?
Only time will tell.