Saúl “Canelo” Alvarez is making his homecoming tomorrow night as he defends his Undisputed Super Middleweight titles against Britain’s John Ryder. On Cinco De Mayo weekend, Canelo will take to the ring in front of a packed Estadio Akron stadium in Guadalajara for his first fight in his home country in nearly 12 years! Many see him as the face of boxing and with his record to date it is hard to argue against that! We take a look at the career of Canelo so far.
Santos Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez Barragán, was born on July 18, 1990, in Guadalajara, Jalisco. Álvarez and his family moved to Juanacatlán, Jalisco, when he was five years old, where he grew up on their farm and learned horseback riding, a hobby he still pursues today. Another of these hobbies is golf in which just this week he stated he would love to turn his attentions to that when he retires from boxing, even going as far to say that he believes he could turn pro!
Álvarez is the youngest of eight siblings, all of whom pursued a career in boxing. This past week, at the press conference for this weekends clash with John Ryder, The Guinness book of records presented them with an award. This was for the most siblings to all be on any one card when Canelo and 6 of us his brothers competed on the same show back in 2008.
The boxing gene ran strong in the Álvarez family, and it was no surprise when Santos Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez made his professional debut at the young age of 15. His trainer Eddy Reynoso had a hard time finding suitable junior opponents for him, and so they turned to the professional circuit.
In his first 19 months as a professional, Álvarez knocked out eleven of his 13 documented opponents, all of whom were significantly older. However, it is believed that he actually fought ten more times, winning all ten by knockout!
Despite his youth, Álvarez quickly established himself as a formidable opponent. He won his first world title in 2011 when he defeated Matthew Hatton to claim the vacant WBC light middleweight title. He went on to defend that title five times before moving up to the middleweight division in 2014.
It was at middleweight that Álvarez had his first career loss, against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013. However, he bounced back and won the WBC middleweight title in 2015, defending it twice before vacating the title in 2016.
Álvarez then moved up to super middleweight, where he won the WBA (Regular) super middleweight title in 2018. He then defeated Rocky Fielding in 2018 to win the WBA (Super) super middleweight title. In 2019, he moved up again to light heavyweight, where he defeated Sergey Kovalev to win the WBO light heavyweight title.
In 2020, Álvarez made history when he became the first and only boxer to become the undisputed champion at super middleweight, holding the WBA (Super), WBC, and Ring magazine titles. He added the IBF and WBO titles to his collection in 2021.
Canelo may well be remembered for his trilogy of fights with “GGG” Genady Golovkin. The two pound-for-pound greats had been touted to fight for years and finally took to the ring in Las Vegas in September 2017. The fight was scored a draw via a split decision in which many thought was a poor decision and that GGG won the fight!
The two would meet again 12 months later with Canelo this time winning by majority decision. Again, this result wasn’t without controversy with people claiming that Triple G had been hard done by yet again! The score was finally settled in September last year though, 5 years after their first encounter, with Canelo winning in a shut-out performance to take it wide on the cards.
Álvarez’s record speaks for itself winning 58 of his 64 fights with notable victories against fighters such as Billy Joe Saunders, Caleb Plant, Miguel Cotto, Daniel Jacobs and Amir Khan to name but a few. It has been incredible to see a fighter face anyone in his path and not only that but to be so active doing so! This is a trait that is not common in the modern game, especially amongst elite fighters. 39 of his 58 wins have come by way of Knockout.
His only other loss in his career after Mayweather came when he took on Dmitrii Bivol a year ago this weekend. Canelo stepped up to Light Heavyweight in a bid to become a 5 weight World Champion. It looked as if the weight had caused him problems though with Bivol looking comfortable with a unanimous decision victory. Canelo is expected to try and avenge this defeat though with the two fighters tipped to clash once again later this year.
Álvarez is known for his excellent counterpunching and ability to exploit openings in his opponent’s guards while avoiding punches with head and body movement. He is also a formidable body puncher, and his knockout power is legendary. As of May 2022, Álvarez is ranked as the world’s best active boxer, pound-for-pound, by BoxRec and the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Out of the ring, Álvarez has a fascinating backstory. Canelo, which means cinnamon in Spanish, is a common nickname for people with red hair. His mother, Ana Maria, also has red hair, and in Mexico, red hair is associated with the Irish soldiers who fought for Mexico in the Saint Patrick’s Battalion during the Mexican–American War. Speaking about his ancestry, Álvarez once said, “There might have been an Irish grandfather somewhere back in my past.”
With a career that shows no signs of slowing down, Saúl “Canelo” Alvarez has already etched his name in the history books and will no doubt go down as an all time great. It will be interesting to see what is left for him to achieve as he enters the latter stages of his career but one thing that is for sure is that the whole world will be watching.
Canelo vs Ryder is live and exclusive on DAZN this weekend, promoted by Eddie Hearn and Matchroom.
By Lee Browne