Twenty-one year old Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (39-0-1, 29 KOs), the youngest reigning world champion in boxing, left little doubt he's a serious fighter to be reckoned with. And while Kermit Cintron (33-5-1, 28 KOs) was only 3-2-1 in his last six bouts, he was a hard-punching former IBF Welterweight champion with experience fighting high caliber opponents.
Alvarez performed as well as any elite fighter would have against an opponent whose only setbacks have come when pitted against top-level competition. Cintron dropped a unanimous decision to highly-ranked Carlos Molina in 2011, lost a bizarre four round technical decision to Paul Williams in 2010, and drew with Sergio Martinez in 2009. He was also knocked out by a then-dangerous Antonio Margarito in 2005 and 2007. (Due to the hand-wraps controversy, some question the legitimacy of Margarito's knockouts)
Rounds 1 -2
The first two rounds were tentative as both fighters engaged in a feeling-out process. But despite their cautiousness, the more aggressive Alvarez marked his territory, landing hard combinations to the body. Cintron used his jab to score a few times but Canelo's hard combinations won him the opening two stanzas. FightSaga scored Rounds 1 and 2 in favor of Alvarez 10-9 while HBO's David Lederman gave Alvarez the first and Cintron the second by the same score.
In between Rounds 2 and 3, Cintron was scolded for his lack of aggression by his trainer, Ronnie Shields. The tongue-lashing was temporarily effective because Cintron started Round 3 by stalking his opponent and opening his punch arsenal. Dictating the tempo for nearly half the round, Cintron began throwing hard right-hands wth bad intentions. Although most of them missed their target, Cintron seemed to be making a statement of sorts for the first minute or so of the round. But by the round's midpoint, Alvarez once again put Kermit on the defensive by unleashing hard combinations punctuated by a wicked left hook to the body. By the end of the round, Alvarez had regained control of the fight's tempo by closing the distance and out-landing the now defensive-minded Cintron.
The beginning of Round 4 was not unlike the start of the previous round. Cintron came out as the aggressor and tried to work off his long left jab. This time, however, he threw lazy right hands and hooks from the outside without sufficient snap or conviction. Perhaps the 32 year old was trying to goad Canelo into thinking he was hurt? But Alvarez, playing it safe, counter-punched effectively from the outside. And when he did step inside, he did so at opportune times and managed by keep Cintron on the defensive by landing hard shots.
With 1:03 left in the round, Alvarez caught Cintron with two hard, over-hands rights. The first rocked the Puerto Rican and the second forced him to take a knee. A hurt, tired-looking Cintron managed to get back up somewhere between the count of 8 and 9. The challenger, who staggered upon rising, was able to convince the referee he was capable of fighting so the action resumed. And despite being on wobbly legs, Cintron fought back valiantly after Canelo pounced on his weakened opponent.
But in the closing seconds of the round, the game Cintron was again rocked by a series of Alvarez right-hands and hooks and fell back into the ropes just as the bell rang to end the round. Cintron had, indeed, been saved by the bell and it took him almost ten seconds to recover to the point where he was able to start walking back to his corner.
Based on the final moments of Round 4, it appeared Canelo Alvarez was on his way to an eventual knockout but Cintron wasn't ready to succumb quite yet. Still on wobbly legs, Cintron traded with Alvarez in the center of the ring. Alvarez got the better of Kermit but the Puerto Rican - for the first time in the fight - started landing powerful blows to Alvarez's head and body. It was obvious Cintron's punches got Alvarez's attention because he motioned to Cintron as if to say, "Bring it on." Moments later, Cintron caught Canelo with two hard right hooks that sent the young champion reeling into the ropes but Canelo intelligently tied-up Kermit and proceeded to chop his man down in the round's ensuing moments.
The finish came with fewer than 20 seconds left in the round. Alvarez rocked Cintron with a hard 1-2 combination, causing the challenger to wilt forward in a bent-over fashion. Although Cintron hadn't been floored, the referee mercifully stopped the bout.
Looking every bit a beaten man, Cintron, whose body appeared limp in the referee's arms, didn't protest the stoppage.
Mayweather vs Canelo in May?
Durng the post-fight interview, Alvarez called-out Floyd Mayweather Jr. Will Floyd be his next opponent? It's not as unlikely as it once seemed. Canelo is a young, strong phenom who has 'rockstar' status in Mexico. The pay day for both men, especially Mayweather, would be enormous. And don't forget, Mayweather has announced he's fighting on Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) - a day for celebration of Mexican pride.
Young lion versus legend... Brawler versus boxer... Power versus speed. After Alvarez's display of tenacity last night, Mayweather vs Alvarez has the makings for an intriguing bout. And although he has yet to engage in battle with elite competition, Alvarez is undefeated and has steamrolled gritty opponents who aren't easy to look good against, including Carlos Baldomir, Matthew Hatton, Ryan Rhodes and Kermit Cintron.
Alvarez has performed exactly how an elite fighter should against the fighters he's faced.
Both fighters have a tremendous amount to gain from fighting each other. Aside from the tremendous revenue the fight would generate, Floyd would be able to defeat boxing's fastest rising star, obtain another title in a higher weight class and solidify his claim as boxing's best pound-for-pound - Or, in lineal fashion, admirably cede his throne to boxing's new king. And for Canelo, there would be no shame in losing to Mayweather given the Mexican's youth. By simply fighting Floyd, Canelo would likely become an international celebrity whose fan base would extend far beyond Mexico and a few scattered areas in the U.S. More importantly, a win over Mayweather would probably make him boxing's biggest cash cow, depending on Manny Pacquiao's next steps.
Eric Gomez, the head matchmaker for Alvarez's promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, stated last week if Pacquiao vs. Mayweather negotiations fail again, "Canelo" Alvarez and Erik Morales would be in contention to fight Mayweather. According to BoxingScene, Gomez stated:
"Saul said he wants to fight with the biggest names. He says he's ready. This Saturday he has to prove to everyone that he is ready for those type of challenges. Erik is a warrior, and he does not turn away from anyone. He asked us for Mayweather. He said 'I know him well, we sparred and I have the style to beat him.' We then gave that information to Mayweather but he hasn't made any decisions."
BoxRec's Top Jr Middleweight
With last night's win, Saul Alvarez surpassed Miguel Cotto as BoxRec's top ranked Jr. Middleweight. However, his No. 1 rating on the popular boxing website may only be temporary as Cotto climbs back into action next week against Antonio Margarito.