“He’s one of boxing’s brightest
stars at just 21. He is becoming the next icon.”
De La Hoya
If men could couple and bear
fruit and Brett Favre and James Dean had a lovechild in Mexico, his name would be “Canelo.” Their
golden locks would embrace to become red in the oppressive Mexican heat yet
their pale Southern and Midwestern visages would remain fair while freckled by
the sun. Their drive to innovate and dominate on a physical and artistic level
would of course motivate their child to take up the ultimate individual sport
of boxing. His legion of fans would grow because, like his fathers, “Canelo” would
get noticed at a young age. His fans would love him inexplicably, no matter if
he got rocked in Vegas by a tiny journeyman whose better genetic material was
only to be found in his brother, Miguel. They wouldn’t care that “Canelo” had
won his title against Europe’s answer to the average Midwestern white guy. At a
catchweight. No, instead, his fans would point to the brilliant mandatory
defense against an older Brit. And how could they forget his dismantling of the
dreaded two-headed boxing monster known only as “Baldomir Gomez”? They
couldn’t; that’s how. No, if men could couple and bear fruit and Brett Favre
and James Dean had a lovechild named “Canelo” in Mexico and he became a boxer,
sometime around the age of 21, his icon of a co-promoter would be crowning him
an icon-in-waiting. Time would tell which father’s staying power, in both time
and legacy, the boy would possess.
This is not to say that all
because young Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is not popular, he would not be a talented
warrior. A potentially high boxing I.Q. lurks within the young man. Coupled with
a stellar work ethic by all accounts, the kid could really develop into
something. His team certainly believes that and he appears to as well.
“I’ve been working at sitting
down on my punches a little more and being a little more stable in my footwork.
Also working on my head movement,” Alvarez would be fond of saying. “I look at
a lot of videos and am working at correcting mistakes I’ve done in the past.”
Depending on the night, you
would in fact see improvement.
For all that he would be at age
21, there is one thing Alvarez would not be: a fighter able who can face the
world- as his WBC junior middleweight title belt boasts. Golden Boy, his co-promoter,
understands this [Writer’s note: Alvarez
runs his own “promotional company,” Canelo Promotions. It is not licensed in Nevada but
from what I understand, they do shows in Mexico. This is unconfirmed as of
press time but his company does have Nobu Ishida under its banner- which IS
confirmed]. They also promote a 27-year-old junior middleweight fighter
named James Kirkland.
Physically primed, very dangerous and unpredictable, Kirkland is a far cry from
the Euro-Midwesterners and the Fredos of the world. Naturally, Golden Boy is
looking for Kirkland to fight maybe Austin Trout or Cornelius Bundrage early next
year. They have titles too, so it makes business and promotional sense to wait
and see if Kirkland can make an obviously pay-per-view-worthy unification bout
which is better for his company. Y’ know, go make James do the hard part in
picking up the other two belts while redeeming his name among boxing fans while
bringing casual fans back to the sport with his exciting go-for-broke style? In
the meantime, “Canelo” cruises and croons his way to boxing immortality by
racking up defenses.
So what do you do with the young
Alvarez as he grows up to be a PPV legend? Well, Step One is already taken care
of. Alvarez was maneuvered into a belt by Golden Boy Promotions. He fought Matthew Hatton, Ricky’s equally game but less
talented brother- also a natural welterweight. Golden Boy and Hatton
Promotions, run by the retired former junior welter champ, agreed to a
catchweight of 150 pounds. Alvarez missed the contracted weight nonetheless.
Still, he fought for the title and won it outright. Now “Canelo” is considered
the youngest man to ever win a major belt at 154, though Fernando Vargas still
holds that distinction in many fans’ eyes.
What that belt would become is
a shield. The WBC can rank and funnel mandatories to Alvarez as he matured. The
real play would ultimately be a shot at his built-in rival, silver-spooner extraordinaire
Julio Cesar “Hit me, Baby, One More Time” Chavez Jr. somewhere between 154 and
200 pounds…give or take a pound.
While the Chavez Jr. fight
simmers and Kirkland embarks on his journey, I’d match Alvarez often and step
it up to a reasonable threat level every time. I might say, fight Alvarez for
the fourth time this year live from the Monumental Plaza de Toros on Saturday, November 26. I’d do it live on
HBO again, right there in Mexico City against Kermit “The Killer” Cintron.
He’s perfect. Not exactly a great 154-pounder but a former welterweight
titleholder and the guy who took away Alfredo Angulo’s “0.” His vaunted power
at 147 didn’t make it onto the plane when Cintron arrived at junior
middleweight so that makes him perceptually dangerous.
In introducing the fight, De La
Hoya might say something like, “Cintron is a former World Champion and fought
some of the greats in the game- Sergio Martinez, Antonio Margarito, Paul Williams
and Alfredo Angulo” and it would be true. Cintron did fight Antonio Margarito,
twice even, losing both times by stoppage (doing better in the rematch).
Cintron did in fact win a belt though it was against a guy named Mark Suarez
who you have never heard of and won’t again unless you read this article twice.
The Martinez fight did happen. However, if I was marketing this particular
fight, I’d leave out the knockout that wasn’t a knockout and the terrible
scorecards that led to a draw. I’d talk up the Angulo fight until the sun came
up. The Williams fight conversations would take place around 7 AM and
would go something like this:
“Tell us your thoughts on the Williams-Cintron
fight. Why does that fight experience point to a victory for the challenger
“The Williams-Cintron fight?
“I’m sorry. I’m not
understanding you. Have you met ‘Canelo’? Max Kellerman and Roy Jones Jr. love his punch.”
[Editor’s note: The aforementioned possibility is
fully plausible. This indeed is an Oscar-ism.]
“Tell me about how ‘Canelo’ is
going to win.”
Alvarez would jump in on cue
and respond, “We had a great training camp in Mexico City and now I’m ready to
go. I just have to make weight on Friday.” Succinct, focused and to the point.
“‘Canelo’ is ready for the
tough challengers, for all those who try to derail the “Canelo Express,” De La
Hoya would proclaim, the imaginary gauntlet echoing harmlessly off the
conference call floor.
If were helping to build Alvarez,
I would be certain to temper the feverish public’s
excitement with logic. I would also make sure to stamp out any idea that the
win on Saturday night was preordained in any way.
“That’s not correct, that we
picked Cintron because we feel he’s past his prime,” Eric Gomez, chief
matchmaker for Golden Boy might say. “We picked him because he’s the next step
in ‘Canelo’s’ development and he’s one of the top fighters in the world and
it’s time to face these top fighters. So by no means did we pick him because we
feel he’s weak or he’s done or he sucks. Kermit Cintron is a legitimate, world
title-type fighter and he deserves to be on this kind of stage.”
“I’m here and ready. We had a
great training camp,” Alvarez would intone out of the ensuing silence,
hammering home the point on the foreheads of every writer within a two million-mile
radius. “Now I just have to worry about making weight but I’m ready for
All the kid is worried about is
the weight. That’s one for the books.
I’d make certain Alvarez looked
back at his past victories with equal parts pride and scrutiny.
“I felt good in the Alfonso
Gomez fight. I didn’t stick to my game plan but still won,” would be good to
say. It shows both adaptability and a dominance to come. “But Cintron is bigger
and stronger and he’s a better fighter than Gomez. I’m not thinking about
making a statement. I’m just going to do my job.”
Alvarez just does his job. Alvarez
goes home. It’s genius in its own simplistic yet badass way.
Every great hero must undergo
certain rites of passage. As a Mexican boxer, before he passes the PPV buys
test, Alvarez must first defeat a dangerous Puerto Rican, the mark of any great
Mexican warrior. But before I gave Alvarez someone truly dangerous like a
Miguel Cotto, I’d get his feet wet with a guy like Cintron, who has always been
a notch below Cotto in his career. It also doesn’t help Cintron that he didn’t
look so hot in his last couple/few fights. Or maybe it did help depending on
whose side you are looking from. In any case, “Kid Canelo” can add another
memory to his growing Mexican legend.
“Well, yes, I am motivated but
more than anything, I’m motivated by the level of competition that Kermit
brings. He’s a tough fighter but I’ve prepared well,” Canelo would say, tossing
aside the notion that this most important test means anything to him.
If I was selling “Canelo” to the world, I’d remember that, above all, two
things must happen. First, at all times, ignore any sort of controversy that
allegedly happens outside the ring. Don’t mention, say, a fight you allegedly
had with a fellow boxer you outweigh by, like, 50 pounds. Above all, for this
whole thing to work, for Mexico,
America, HBO PPV, Brett Favre and James Dean, their struggles and glories must
bear the sweet fruit of victory.
“I just have
to win,” this red-headed (step)child/God of Winning would be fond of saying. “I
don’t worry about all that other stuff.”