That’s the question that has been asked ad nauseam ever since the charismatic Mexican superstar administered one hell of a beating onto Josesito Lopez on Saturday night. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was expected to topple Lopez in their main event battle inside the MGM, but the sort of relentless bombardment that Canelo dished out on Saturday was eye-opening.
The huge betting favorite followed suit with where the experts placed him on the odds lines in the various sportsbooks around Las Vegas, but not many ringside figured they’d see the Guadalajara banger trounce Lopez in the manner with which he did on the Showtime-televised event.
Canelo floored his opponent with vicious body punching in the second and third and then felled Lopez with a savage flurry of head and body shots in the fourth. Lopez never stopped trying to steal the momentum away from Alvarez as he continuously threw multiple punch combos whenever he could, but the firepower just wasn’t there. Lopez landed many clean shots, but Alvarez walked through them and eventually forced referee Joe Cortez to stop the mugging at 2:55 of the fifth round.
Most observes figured that Lopez would give Canelo some trouble and at the very least, last much deeper into the fight. Canelo made sure that was never going to happen and kept his unbeaten record intact in sensational fashion.
It’s obvious that Canelo Alvarez is among the boxing elite in terms of stardom and drawing power. It’s also as obvious as the sun is hot that Alvarez knows how to fight. He’s among the best of the junior middleweight and middleweight classes. But the question is just how good is Canelo?
Immediately following the fight, several ringside observers were already salivating at the notion of Canelo duking it out with the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter Floyd Mayweather. The general consensus is that Mayweather is slowing down because he’s getting older and Alvarez hasn’t hit his physical prime yet even though he’s destroying everybody in his path. Since Mayweather won’t be fighting Manny Pacquiao anytime soon, if ever, and considering he’s been out of action due to a stint in a Clark County, NV jail, and that Canelo is fast and powerful, he’s ripe for the picking.
Before anybody goes any further with the idea of Alvarez locking horns with Mayweather, they need to get their emotions and head in check. It seems as though logic has gone out the window, which is the typical reaction regarding most of the boxing media. The so-called “experts” immediately latch on to what they saw last and begin spewing nonsense without actually taking a deep breath and examining the entire scope.
In the case of Canelo Alvarez, a fight with Mayweather would be enormous. It’d sell two million-plus pay-per-views, whatever arena the fight would take place in would sell out instantly and the boxing world would be abuzz for months. However, the fight would be a one-sided affair if they were to fight next May (which is what people are clamoring). As good as Canelo is, he’s not ready for someone the caliber of Mayweather. Not yet.
It’s true that Floyd is slowing down, but it’s not as if he’s suddenly gone from Floyd Mayweather to Floyd Council. Mayweather is still sharper and more accurate than everybody else in the sport and his cunning and guile would create hell for young Canelo. Yes, Canelo would be all over Mayweather and he’s incredibly quick-triggered, but he still has quite a few flaws in his game.
photo courtesy of MARY ANN OWEN
For one, he tends to lift his head a little too much during his flurries and he also spreads his gloves apart when he throws punches, particularly the right hand. Lopez hit Alvarez way too many times in that fight and that last time I checked, Josesito Lopez isn’t exactly in the same ballpark as Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather also loves it when men who are easy to hit come straight at him (Ricky Hatton, Arturo Gatti, Victor Ortiz, etc.) and that is exactly how Canelo would fight him.
There’s no denying how good Canelo Alvarez is. He’s a bona fide star and he’s fun as all hell to watch. He’d give Mayweather some problems and he’d make “Money” uncomfortable at some points throughout the fight. However, to think that Alvarez is ready for Mayweather right now suggests that he’s at the point in his career where he can beat him. For those who either love Canelo or loathe Floyd, I’m sorry; that’s just not the case.
In about two years, Alvarez will be the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighter, if not for Andre Ward. He’ll be the biggest attraction in all of the fightsports including the UFC, especially if he learns to speak even halfway decent English. He’s on what appears to be a one-way ticket to all-time status, but people need to step back from the forest so they can see the trees. Canelo’s not exactly a crude fighter, but he is too reckless at times. Mayweather, at this point, is still the best and he’d pick apart Alvarez and beat him.
What his handlers should do in the immediate future is put Canelo in against guys who are obviously going to be tougher opposition than Lopez and clearly more appealing to the masses. Win or lose against Austin Trout, Miguel Cotto would be the perfect next step for Alvarez. Cotto is still near the top of his game, is still very dangerous, and he’s a big name. Canelo can beat him, too, which would make him an even bigger star.
If Cotto can’t be the next opponent, why not toss Canelo in against Erislandy Lara? What about Alfredo Angulo? He’s a murderous puncher who could turn out Canelo’s lights, but he’s sloppy enough so Canelo can exploit that. If not those two, why not make the fight with James Kirkland? He reportedly priced himself out of a fight with Alvarez (that’s where Lopez came in) but a fight with those would be bigger than the one with Lopez. Surely Golden Boy Promotions could afford to pay Kirkland a little more considering he’d probably not beat Canelo anyway.
If not any of them, it’s time Vanes Matirosyan finally steps up and takes on an upper echelon fighter. Suppose he beats Lara in November (or vice versa), why not have the winner try their luck against the cinnamon-haired Mexican?
How good is Canelo? He’s good. Very good. He’ll be great in no time but if Golden Boy is too quick and makes the Canelo-Mayweather fight too soon (like next Cinco de Mayo weekend) because of shortsightedness, their unbeaten superstar will be unbeaten no more.
Photo of Canelo Alvarez is courtesy of RAY SPENCER