The Arrival of The Canelo Era
Published: September 14, 2017
LAS VEGAS - On Saturday night the boxing world will stand at attention to the bright lights of Las Vegas as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) steps into the ring against Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs). On paper, the fight is for the undisputed middleweight championship with all of the major belts on the line sans the WBO middleweight title. However, the fight has bigger implications than those that can be written on paper. Money can buy you many things, but it cannot buy you a legacy.
As far as Mexican boxing is concerned Alvarez at this time has no real rivals. Earlier this year former four-division champion and future Hall-of-Famer, Juan Manuel Marquez officially retired from the sport signifying the start of Alvarez’s reign as the premiere fighter in Mexico. An argument can be made for Super Flyweight (115) Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2, 25 KOs) but the former flyweight champion does not come close to Alvarez in terms of popularity.
Golovkin unquestionably is the best practitioner of the sweet science from Kazakhstan currently along with being their most famous fighter. The fight with Alvarez for the Kazakhstani puncher is a chance to prove his legitimacy and place his stamp among the footsteps of other great middleweight champions like Bernard Hopkins and Marvin Hagler. The stakes are even higher for the young Mexican.
At 27 years of age Alvarez has faced his fair share of real competition. He has won some bouts clearly and won some by close decision. Alvarez’s only blemish was a loss to Floyd Mayweather four years ago in September 2013. Since then, Alvarez has improved in all areas of his boxing game. While a loss to a fighter like Mayweather, who with Manny Pacquiao will go down as the best fighters of the last era should not count against Alvarez, it has stopped many from ranking him with the absolute elite of this era.
Looking at the top ten pound-for-pound, Alvarez is superseded by fighters like Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs), Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) and Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs). It can be argued that Alvarez has faced better competition than all three men and is certainly the most popular. Ward who won the “Super Six” Super Middleweight (168) tournament back in 2011 is currently the king of the Light Heavyweight (175) division holds the strongest case to be ranked as the best fighter of this era. For Alvarez, the fight with Golovkin will be a case of not just winning but how he wins will matter.
For all the skeptics that Alvarez has even in his own country of Mexico a victory over Golovkin will in many ways legitimize him. While a win with a close decision that could have gone either way will be good for Alvarez if it is an exciting fight, a clear victory where he establishes himself as the better man could be a changing of the guard in the sport. Not only will Alvarez be the most popular fighter in the sport he will have gotten arguably the best victory of the era as well. With over 50 fights as a professional at 27 years of age, Alvarez is aware of what the Golovkin fight means for his legacy.
This weekend in the biggest boxing event of the year fans could be witnessing the official arrival of the Canelo era. Alvarez has shown the skillset to defeat a fighter like Golovkin, but the question will be if he can handle the pressure of having a country behind him and a man with something to prove in front of him. Golovkin will not be there to hand it to him, and Canelo will not be there to ask for permission. He will be there to step up and take it.
(Feature Photo: Golden Boy Promotions)