Canelo Alvarez is the biggest star in boxing. He's also considered the best fighter in the sport. And much of that has to do with the fact that he's the busiest world-class performer, by far, the game has currently.
This Saturday night he completed his goal of becoming the undisputed super middleweight champion by halting Caleb Plant in the 11th round at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Early on, Plant boxed effectively out of the Philly shell, and troubled the Mexican superstar with is evasiveness and quick counter punches. But while he had his moments, Plant could never really sting Canelo to a point where he would think twice about moving forward and closing the gap on him.
It took some time, but eventually Alvarez chipped away at the taller Plant and finally broke through late, flooring him twice, before referee Russell Mora stopped the fight at 1:05 of round 11.
Photo Credit: German Villasenor
For Alvarez -- who becomes just the sixth boxer in the modern era to capture all four major belts in a division -- this completes an 11 month stretch that saw him perform four times, and defeat three undefeated belt-holders (Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders and now Plant) in the process. Yeah, you could try and minimize this achievement by stating that currently this division didn't have a Roy Jones, James Toney or Joe Calzaghe in it. No argument there, but give him credit for having a goal, mapping it out, and being flexible in who he would partner up with to make it come to fruition.
This was not a fighter who would hide behind any promotional rivalries or network alliances to prevent himself from making history.
Canelo is his own industry, free of many of the restrictions that hinder other careers.
The fight on Saturday, despite it's emphatic ending, wasn't an easy one for him. Alvarez still had to decipher a difficult style, while overcoming some significant physical disadvantages. But you always got the sense that he would find a way to adjust, adapt, and then attack. Which is precisely what took place.
Photo Credit: German Villasenor
Unlike most of his counterparts today, Alvarez doesn't ever suffer from ring rust because of his busy schedule (by today's standards) and because he's constantly in the gym, this is a boxer that is always evolving. For him, this was just another night at the office.
His activity may be the biggest competitive advantage that he has. It not only raises his public profile, it makes him a better fighter.
Just how much busier has he been recently than everyone else? Well, lets take a look at the current Ring Magazine pound-for-pound rankings. While Alvarez has fought three times in 2020, lets take a look at the rest of the nine boxers on that list...
2- Oleksandr Usyk - 1 fight
3- Naoyo Inoue - 1 fight ( has another fight scheduled in December)
4- Terence Crawford - 0 fights (one scheduled on November 20 against Shawn Porter)
5- Josh Taylor - 1 fight
6- Errol Spence 0 fights
7- Teofimo Lopez - 0 fights ( has another one scheduled for November 27 with George Kambosos)
8- Juan Francisco Estrada - 1 fight
9- Vasily Lomachenko - 1 fight (another bout scheduled for December 11 versus Richard Commey)
10- Kazuto Ioka - 1 fight
So this group has performed just a total of six times in '20. Four of them have fights lined up before the end of this year.
Seven of them will have just one fight to their credit when it strikes midnight on December 31.
Canelo has essentially carried the sport by himself on his broad shoulders. It would be nice if he got a little more help from his colleagues in this regard. After his latest conquest, he stated that he would need a bit of a break from the grind, and would return to the ring next May. It's a well-earned respite, but it has to be asked: who fills this void in 2022?
Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime Sports
Muhammad Ali once said, "If it wasn't for me, the game would be dead." It would be hyperbolic to apply this to Alvarez.
But the game isn't nearly as big without him.
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