WBC junior middleweight champion Saul Alvarez is the type of fighter who has already struck up all kinds of feverish debates pertaining to his skills as a fighter and potential greatness. The 20-year old kid from Jalisco, Mexico has star appeal that can’t be denied yet there are those in the sport who would like to see a little more from him, including ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas.
Alvarez is coming off of last weekend’s thorough clinic over grizzled and flamboyant Brit Ryan Rhodes, a fight in which he won nearly every round with ease. But while Alvarez was in control throughout, even dropping Rhodes in the 4th round in front of more than 14,000 rabid fans in his hometown, he didn’t show any urgency towards finishing his foe off in emphatic fashion.
Alvarez’s calculated style has lead him far but Atlas claims that he has yet to endear himself to his country in the same fashion as some of the Mexican legends of years past.
“There’s a great tradition with the Mexican people and their warriors, their champions,” Atlas stated during this weekend’s edition of Friday Night Fights from Temecula. “So many great ones; Chavez, Ruben Olivares, Salvador Sanchez. But all of them have that mentality to get ya. You know, Salvador Sanchez had a great intellect, one of the great boxers of all time, but he always had that attitude and you always knew that he was going to try to get you. He was going to box smart but he was also going to engage you. He was going to find a way to go forward.
“And you just don’t have that feeling with Alvarez that he has that kind of mentality, that kind of makeup. I don’t say that all Mexicans have it but we’ve grown used to it and the people in Mexico have grown used to most of them having that. It’s a tough place and people come from a tough place there. They attach themselves to their fighters and they are proud that they find a way to go in there with that kind of mentality.”
Slideshow: Images of Saul Alvarez’s thorough clinic of Ryan Rhodes
Atlas has often been unrelenting with his criticisms towards some of today’s top fighters, including Manny Pacquiao, and it’s simply part of his makeup as an announcer. But in closing you can sense him pressing on the breaks a bit as he instead tries to accept Alvarez for what he is as a fighter; a young champion with excellent gifts, plenty of room to grow, and a temperament that is a contrast to what we may have expected.
“Alvarez is more of a careful guy. It’s not bad, it’s just different. He’s very careful, he’s very selective with what he does. He has good hand speed, he’s a concise puncher, he’s a sharp puncher. He even goes to the body pretty well. But he’s a little more careful than most of the Mexican fighters have been in the past, the great ones.”
Perhaps Alvarez simply needs a more aggressive and willing dance partner for us to see him become a bit more tenacious and the latest rumors have Nicaragua’s trash-talking Ricardo Mayorga in the mix. If the fight goes off it would possibly serve as a co-feature to the September 17th Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz pay-per-view extravaganza, set to take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected]