Canelo Alvarez goes into Saturday’s fight with Mexican rival Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. as one of boxing’s biggest global stars.
Alvarez [48-1-1, 34 KOs], 26, is a three-weight world champion who most boxing fans want to see face world middleweight No. 1 Gennady Golovkin this September.
But what have been Canelo’s best wins in a 12-year professional career that has just one blemish, a points defeat by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013?
vs. Miguel Cotto, WUD 12
November 21, 2015
Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
The Mexican’s best win arguably came against the biggest name on his record, Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto [40-5, 33 KOs]. Nearly two years after his first and only defeat [on points to Floyd Mayweather Jr.], Alvarez triumphed by scores of scores of 119-109, 118-110 and 117-111, which were perhaps a little generous to him.
But there was no denying he deserved victory over Cotto, who at 35 was 10 years older than Canelo. It was a hard-fought contest but Alvarez was able to maintain control of the bout through his heavier blows to claim the WBC world middleweight title.
“It didn’t matter if I landed 10 punches as long as they were 10 well-connected punches and [I didn’t] get hit by his punches,” Alvarez said.
Beating Cotto — a world champion in four weight classes — marked out Alvarez as boxing’s next big star following the retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and this fight reportedly had at least 900,000 pay-per-view buys. It also boosted Canelo’s status in pound-for-pound lists.
vs. Amir Khan, WKO 6
May 7, 2016
T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
In perhaps the most spectacular win of his most high-profile fights, Cotto knocked out Khan with a straight right to the jaw in the sixth round. It was a perfect punch from which the Brit failed to recover after being stretched out on the canvas, sealing a first defence of his WBC world middleweight title for Canelo.
But his opponent had done well up until the knockout and won some of the early rounds until Cotto’s superior power began to tell.
Khan, who stepped up two weight divisions to take on Canelo, gave the champion problems with his speed but was slowed down in rounds five and six by punches to the head and body. One judge even had Khan [31-4, 19 KOs] ahead at the time of the stoppage.
“He’s a fast fighter and I knew things would be competitive in the beginning but I knew they would come to my favour as the fight went on,” said Canelo.
After the catchweight contest of 155 pounds, Alvarez called out Gennady Golovkin to meet him in a world title unification fight, only to relinquish his title and opt for a different opponent a few months later.
vs. James Kirkland, WKO 3
May 9, 2015
Minute Maid Park, Houston
Alvarez returned from a 10-month absence to destroy the American with a brutal knockout. Canelo viciously dealt with Kirkland, who just could not cope with the Mexican’s power in a fierce three round shoot out.
Alvarez landed an array of shots, including a right hook to the jaw that left Kirkland [32-2, 28 KOs] flat on his back and counted out in the third round. Alvarez also landed a shuddering uppercut and floored Kirkland in the opening round.
What was impressive about Canelo in this brief cameo, which Kirkland tried to turn into a brawl, was the accuracy of his punches, often on the counter. “I did not see the punch coming that knocked me out,” Kirkland said.
This fight came a week after the long-awaited clash between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao had disappointed — but Canelo provided fight fans with an electrifying finish, throwing punches with real intent from the first bell.
vs. Austin Trout, WUD 12
April 20, 2013
Alamodome, San Antonio
This was one of Alvarez’s most difficult wins, along with the split points decision that he was awarded against Erislandy Lara in 2014. Canelo prevailed by a close decision over Trout to progress to a money-spinning fight with Mayweather.
Trout was a high-risk opponent, with the fight against Mayweather already lined up, but Alvarez earned scores of 115-112, 118-109 and 116-111 in the super-welterweight world title unification fight.
Trout [30-3, 17 KOs], who started as WBA champion after beating Cotto, was more active but it was Alvarez’s power that was decisive. He landed 43 per cent of his power punches compared to 27% for Trout.
“He shocked us; I was prepared for a different fighter,” Trout said. “I tried to pressure the action and change things up but he kept changing.” Alvarez gained control in the middle rounds and dropped Trout with a counter right hand in the seventh round.
vs. Liam Smith, WKO 9
September 17, 2016
AT&T Stadium, Arlington
In Canelo’s last fight, he took out Englishman Liam Smith [25-1-1, 14 KOs] with a wicked body shot in the ninth round. Smith had earlier touched down in rounds seven and eight in another dominant display from the Mexican.
But this was not the fight in which fans wanted to see Canelo. Instead of fighting Gennady Golovkin in a world title unification fight, Canelo gave up his WBC belt and dropped down to 154 pounds to claim Smith’s WBO world title at the AT&T Stadium, Texas. Canelo was too big, too quick and too powerful.
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Alvarez landed 157 of 422 [37 percent] and also had a 113-68 advantage in power punches landed. While demonstrating his class as one of the sport’s best operators, this performance also showed Canelo needs tougher tests.