Oscar De La Hoya, a man who should know, says that Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (34-0-1 25 KOs) is a matinee idol and a babe magnet. Alvarez, an accomplished pro from Mexico, signed in January, by De La Hoya's promotions firm, Golden Boy, is a mere 20 years old. His record as a professional is not a mirage nor is it littered with many meaningless fights to beef it up.
With flaming red hair and freckles, Alvarez was given the nickname, Canelo, which means cinnamon, but he could gain a new one if he continues his path through the men in his weight class. Golden Boy Promotions hopes for that and publicly says they expect it.
On Saturday night September 18, Alvarez was the fighter the audience really came to see. The fight card headlined by Shane Mosley vs. Sergio Mora never lived up to the undercard bouts that preceded it. For a report on that fight, click here. The boxing lineup was filled with Mexican and Mexican American fighters as the city of Los Angeles celebrated the bicentennial of Mexico's independence. Among the many events to mark the occasion was a jammed packed fight card at the Staples Center.
It was a no-brainer to include Canelo who has drawn 63 million people to tune into his fights in his native country. He is dating a former Miss Mexico contestant. Marisol Gonzalez, who got as much attention at ringside as any other celebrity in attendance. Alvarez went pro at 15 years of age and whoever managed him certainly knew how to groom a future champion.
He caught the eye of Golden Boy who showed him off for his U.S. debut in Las Vegas this past May, on the under card for the Mayweather vs. Mosley fight. Canelo stopped Miguel Cotto's brother, Juan Miguel (31-2-1), in the ninth round by TKO. On the bicentennial card, in a city with a huge Mexican population, Saturday night at Staples Center served as his official coming out party, and he didn't disappoint.
His opponent, Carlos Baldomir (45-13-6 14 KOs), a former WBC welterweight champion, who at 39 hoped he had one more shot at a title in him, found out he didn't. He was crushed by the young Mexican with a blow at 2:58 of the sixth round after absorbing a lot of punishment that required the services of the ring physician. Afterward, Baldomir said, "It is true that he hits very hard, He is the real deal. No one has hit me like he has."
The spectators in attendance were ecstatic and the chants of "Canelo, Canelo, Canelo", that had rung out throughout the bout, continued even after he left the arena. In fact, with the Mosley vs. Mora fight grinding along, the crowd started calling for the red-haired winner again. When Alvarez emerged from the training room for a sit-down with Mexican media, you might not have known that the main event was still in progress.
It was an impressive showing and a peek at the Canelo-mania that has begun in earnest in the United States.