On Sept. 19, 2010, Saul Alvarez, 20, of Mexico, fought former world welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir of Argentina in a companion main event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
After the second minute of the first round, the venerable Larry Merchant, working the fight with Jim Lampley, commented that Alvarez was “a well-schooled young fighter.”
It took Alvarez nearly five rounds to uphold Merchant.
The young sensation took out the grizzled but visibly shopworn Argentine “who had never been floored in nearly two decades” with a perfect left hook to the chin with two seconds left of the fifth round.
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It was a dominant performance by Alvarez.
Maybe Merchant thought the stoppage had come too early.
The veteran boxing analyst next wondered if Alvarez, in scoring an early KO, felt it was a case of too much too soon for the good-looking strong boy with flaming red hair who has also come to be called Canelo or Sweet Cinnamon.
Merchant failed to get an affirmative reply.
Canelo instead told him, through an interpreter, that all he knew was that he always worked very, very hard and always came to do his utmost best.
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So how much longer would it take for him to be ready for the best welterweight of them all, two years, three years?
Maybe a year and half, Canelo remarked smiling.
On Sunday, nearly three years after that all-revealing post-fight with Merchant, Alvarez, 23, meets “the best of them all” when he clashes with Floyd Mayweather Jr., 36, for the world light middleweight crown.
They do battle at the catch weight of 152 lbs.
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Canelo, who started boxing professionally at age 15, must’ve felt he was more than ready for Mayweather as early as a year ago.
But WBC president Jose Sulaiman said he thought Alvarez could’ve used two or three more fights before clashing with Mayweather, reigning king of boxing.
There’s the common belief among keen observers that Canelo holds an edge in power, anchored on his youth and great build.
Alvarez was also judged as a fairly accurate puncher.
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In that 2010 bout against Baldomir, Canelo did it with a vicious left hook that had been set up by a right straight. It was a neat, well-planned execution that rendered the stoppage nearly clinical.
Canelo also displayed good balance and very promising footwork.
All told, this could only mean that the princely power puncher has got the fight essentials.
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Of course, Canelo would be needing more than his youth, superior build, power and accuracy when he meets the master of disaster at the Last Vegas MGM Grand this weekend.
Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times noted that Mayweather indeed has rapid footwork, punching speed and defensive skills.
“But it’s his quick productive thinking that could be the decisive factor,” Pugmire said.
Mayweather adjusts and adapts at the slightest hint of danger, as though the gods of boxing have offered to reward these rare smarts especially to him.