Boxing

Canelo Alvarez has built a record of success that no one can touch today

Canelo Alvarez has built a record of success that no one can touch today

Canelo Alvarez certainly isn’t above criticism.

For example, the Mexican superstar has sometimes put winning titles ahead of facing the toughest opponents the past several years in a misguided attempt to enhance his legacy. The latter would have better served that purpose.

His inexplicable refusal to fight David Benavidez could haunt him if it never happens. I don’t think he’s afraid of Benavidez — or anyone else — but he has opened the door for such a notion.

And, heck, his decision to defend his 168-pound championship against Jaime Munguia – a fighter still in the process of proving himself – on  DAZN Pay-Per-View Saturday in Las Vegas is seen by some as a less-than-challenging matchup for a champion as accomplished as Alvarez, although he didn’t have many other good options.

Canelo Alvarez won his first major title by defeating Matthew Hatton in 2011. Action Images / Jason Redmond Livepic

We’re quibbling when you survey Alvarez’s career as a whole, however. He has the most robust resume in the sport, built with victories over one capable opponent after another over more than a decade in the brightest spotlight to not only collect belts but become a mainstay on pound-for-pound lists.

He’ll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer one day. And he has earned it.

Consider:

Alvarez has won major titles in four divisions.

He started as a 139-pounder when he turned pro at 15 years old in 2005 and has fought as heavy as 174½, losing only twice in 64 bouts – to Floyd Mayweather and Dmitry Bivol – and collecting major belts at 154, 160, 168 and 175. And he did so even though he probably isn’t a natural 168-pounder and definitely a small 175-pounder, meaning he has taken down a number of bigger men along the way.

He’s 19-2-1 against former or current world titleholders.

Think about that. That’s 19 victories in 22 fights against the best in the business over the past decade-plus, including wins over Shane Mosley, Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto, Gennadiy Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Kovalev. No one else can match that level of success at the highest level of the sport.

Twenty-four of his last 28 fights have been for a major world title.

Sanctioning body belts don’t carry the same weight they once did but those who fight for them are generally top contenders. The fact Alvarez has amassed 24 title fights beginning in 2011 – winning all but the two mentioned above — reflects both his remarkable talent and ability to remain at the pinnacle of the sport for so long. Pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford has taken part in 18 title fights, which is impressive. However, his level of opposition pales next to Alvarez’s.

He has defeated eight unbeaten opponents with 10 or more fights.

There are undefeated fighters who build their records by fighting pushovers. Others have a legitimate “0” in their loss column, those who meet serious challenges. Alvarez falls into the latter category if anyone does. He has taken down previously unbeaten Trout, Golovkin, Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant, among others. All five of those fighters held major world titles at the time Alvarez defeated them. And don’t forget: Munguia (43-0, 34 KOs) also is unbeaten.

He’s 2-1 against current Hall of Famers.

The ultimate test for any fighter is a bout with a Hall of Fame-caliber opponent. Alvarez failed in his first fight with an all-time great, Mayweather. However, he defeated Mosley and Cotto after they had lost a step but remained formidable fighters. Also, Alvarez has beaten other fighters who have a decent to good chance of being elected to the Hall one day: Triple-G, Kovalev and Jermell Charlo. Once again, Alvarez has had unusual success at the highest level of competition.

The theme here is this: Fans constantly clamor for fighters to face the best possible opponents. Alvarez doesn’t have a perfect record in that regard but he comes close, which is a testament to the belief he has in himself and the clout that makes it possible to make the biggest fights.

And the fact he has won consistently against that level of opposition can lead us to only one conclusion: He’s one of the best of his generation, possibly of all time.

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie

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