In the last year it’s been hard to escape the fact the strange times we are living in will soon be historical lore for the next generation. Although it has mostly been plague and war, in boxing we have seen a far more pleasant history. Saul Canelo Alvarez has emerged from the chrysalis of “good fighter” and ensured that history will remember him and a great fighter.
This is measured by three key elements; opposition, performance, and impact. Last night Canelo combined all three into a masterful spectacle.
First was the man in the opposite corner, undefeated 30-0 world champion and slick southpaw, Billy Joe Saunders. Had Canelo destroyed him in a few rounds BJS would have been dismissed as not that good, or overhyped, as it was though we saw just how dangerous an operator he really could be. In the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds BJS was able to dominate, using his unorthodox rhythm and right hand jab to offset the attacks of Canelo. A fearless champion had come to win, and Canelo Alvarez sent him away a broken man.
Next is the performance, how he did it. As delicate as it was destructive, as sweet as it was savage. He seems to be playing a different game to everyone else, relaxed and poised, even when things aren’t going this way he exudes control. Then it came to the right round. In a fairly even contest suddenly Alvarez was able to find more gears, becoming more powerful, more dominant. The final shot too was pure ultra violence. A man who used to be junior middleweight champion shattered a super middleweight’s eye socket with a single punch. Swift, accurate and mind bendingly powerful, it's everything we’ve come to expect from the man they call Cinnamon.
Finally it’s the impact. The spectacle, the event, the legacy. With most of the world still in varying stages of lockdown it’s only Canelo that could summon the attention and financial interest to stage a unification fight inside a stadium seating 73,126 people. While we wait for the biggest fights in boxing as heavyweights and welterweights string out negotiations Saul Canelo Alvarez fights and wins. Since any of Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Terrance Crawford or Errol Spence Spence last fought he has boxed, Canelo has had three world title fights, two of which were unifications, two of which he ended by brutal stoppage.
Saul Canelo Alvarez is a generational talent. Worthy of comparisons to Mexican greats like Julio Cesar Chavez and Rubén Olivares. He continues to compete at the highest of high levels in weight classes most considered foreign to him. He continues to make excellent fighters look mediocre. We are witnessing him make boxing history.
Eddie Willis for SimBoxx