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LAS VEGAS -- Saul Alvarez is the future of boxing.
Everything from the charming, boyish smile he wore to the ring on Saturday, to the brutalizing left hooks he threw when he got there has made the 22-year-old Mexican a must-see in boxing.
There's no debate that the demand for Alvarez to start fighting the best in the world will reach an all-time high following his one-sided TKO victory over Josesito Lopez.
Whether or not doing so right now is the best thing for his career -- that's debatable.
Alvarez, best known by his nickname "Canelo," believes he's ready for anything, despite a relative lack of experience against elite opposition.
The undefeated junior middleweight champion often defers questions about future opponents to his promoters, but his stance on a potential meeting with Floyd Mayweather Jr. couldn't be clearer.
|Whether or not it's the best move for his career, Saul Alvarez's TKO of Josesito Lopez Saturday proves it's time for Canelo to take on the best.|
"I was born ready," said Alvarez, when asked specifically about Mayweather.
Throwing a prizefighter just two months removed from his 22nd birthday directly into the fire, however, doesn't come without risk. Alvarez, as terrific as he's been, doesn't have a wide arsenal of tricks yet. Despite his accomplishments, he remains untested.
Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, says he understands this. He also says Alvarez has reached a level where only three opponents make sense, and it's an impressive list: Mayweather, Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez.
"We would certainly be open to making a fight with Floyd and I think that's at the top of Canelo's wish list as well," Schaefer said. "Other names do include Miguel Cotto and the man that beat Cesar Chavez Jr. tonight, Sergio Martinez. What we really think, first and foremost, is that [Alvarez] is ready. You see the tremendous improvement. He really is ready and we're not afraid to put him in front of any of those names."
Cotto is currently scheduled to face Austin Trout on Dec. 1 in New York. Schaefer suggested the possibility that Alvarez could fight in December, as well, setting up a bout between the two in May.
Regardless of age entirely, Alvarez did look nothing short of spectacular on Saturday. He was impressive even in a situation where anything short of total dominance would have been perceived a disappointment.
From the opening bell, it was obvious Lopez was out of his league. Alvarez dropped him late in the second round with a vicious body shot -- a theme that would continue throughout the fight.
There was some criticism over referee Joe Cortez's decision to stop the fight when he did late in the fifth, but very little of that criticism came from anyone associated with Lopez.
Henry Ramirez, Lopez's trainer, admitted he warned his fighter after the fourth round that he'd stop the fight himself if things didn't improve.
"I didn't have a problem with it," Ramirez said. "I told Jose if he didn't show me something after the fourth round, I was going to stop it. He was having a pretty decent fifth round, but I didn't have a problem with the stoppage."
Only time will tell if Alvarez is, in fact, ready for the best in the world at an age where so many other fighters are barely out of the amateurs.
Even if concerns did exist on how he'll do, his talent and star power outside of the ring almost leave us no choice but to find out.
"I think we realized [his talent] after the Mosley fight, but after tonight we saw all the ingredients are there," Schaefer said. "He filled up the MGM Grand Garden. The fan base he has, here in the U.S. as well.
"Floyd Mayweather and me, we always say we have one goal and that's to break records. Floyd holds the record for the biggest event in the history of the sport. He's going to look at who are the names out there he could break that record with, and Canelo Alvarez is prominent there."