Monday, May 3, 2010

Saul Alvarez: 19 Year Old Red-Haired Mexican "Veteran" a New Star?

You've got to like this muscular 19 year old with red hair. And lest I be accused of "profiling," I've met lots of Latinos with red hair and other features which seem striking when the ring announcer says "in this corner" is Saul Alvarez, etc....

But Saul Alvarez' red hair would be striking even in Ireland. It's bright red, topping off a lobster-pink and very solid frame featuring strong legs and big lats. He looks like a kid who couldn't move too fast but his speed is surprising, even in the welterweight ranks, where he faced Miguel Cotto's older brother, Jose Cotto, in one of the preliminaries to the Mayweather v. Mosley fight.

This was supposed to be Jose Cotto's showcase fight. Cotto's only previous loss was to Juan Diaz, who now is scheduled to fight Juan Marquez for the 2nd time.

Nobody bothered to tell the Mexican kid, Saul Alvarez, he was supposed to lose to the tough and resilient Cotto. Alvarez stopped Cotto in the 9th round after delivering a solid professional performance. Indeed, Alvarez had virtually no amateur experience whatsoever, unless you count fighting with his five brothers. He's got 31 wins, no losses, one draw. Except for one fight in Florida, in which he knocked out his opponent in the first round, this Cotto fight was Alvarez' second fight in the U.S.

There are things to like about Alvarez. He's well-schooled, very technical, a worker bee with decent speed and power in both hands. Alvarez was geared up for the 10 rounder, the distance all his fights have been since age 17 (except for two 12 rounders). The boxing commentators who covered the night's matches were off balance and spent the night touting Cotto. Jose Cotto was no easy tuneup; his squat, powerful body absorbs punishment without yielding, though his defenses are solid, too. Cotto marches forward with great determination, with good balance, and decent punching power, carrying the fight to Alvarez.

Alvarez never overreacted. He blasted to the body. He punched through Cotto's defenses. He was methodical. But most importantly, he knew when it was time to get rid of Cotto, touching him with a left jab and rocking him to the ropes with powerful, blazing quick rights. The ref waved Alvarez off. It was done.

Hope to see that boy again, but I don't suppose he'll be a popular opponent even for veteran welterweights.

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