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Monday, December 3, 2012
Updated: December 26, 11:56 AM ET
Saul Alvarez is NEXT

By Eric Raskin
ESPN The Magazine

Canelo Alvarez
Alvarez has defended his WBC junior middleweight title five times.

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WHEN SAUL ALVAREZ first entered the American boxing scene, some fans saw his strawberry hair and freckles -- the inspiration for the nickname Canelo (Spanish for cinnamon) -- and dismissed him as more Opie Taylor than Meldrick Taylor. But Alvarez is proving to be a powerhouse in the boxing ring and at the box office. "I just want to keep going and become the best -- not just one of the best but the best," Alvarez says. To get there, he's already made believers of his veteran opponents, including Carlos Baldomir (KO in the sixth round, 2010), Ryan Rhodes (TKO in the 12th, 2011) and surefire Hall of Famer "Sugar" Shane Mosley (unanimous decision, 2012). "I've fought Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto," Mosley said postfight, "and Canelo has the potential to be as good as anyone I've faced. He is definitely in the mix of talented fighters who are going to carry the sport for the next decade."

I started younger than Julio Cesar Chavez [Sr.], I've achieved more things at my age and I've got a better grasp of boxing. I want to be better than Julio Cesar Chavez.

-- Saul Alvarez

Alvarez is pulling huge ratings on both sides of the border. His Sept. 15 fight with Josesito Lopez set a live record for Showtime. On that night, 70.8 percent of Mexico's TV viewers were watching boxing -- in fact, Alvarez-Lopez outrated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s far more meaningful championship challenge against Sergio Martinez.

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