If you were to ask someone to offer up a list of the top pound for pound fighters in the sport today, chances are Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez would find himself close to the top ten and rightfully so. His power, fan-friendly action-packed style and technical ability have earned him legions of fans and international stardom far beyond his homeland of Mexico.
So why do I find it so difficult to like him?
I don’t mean ‘like him’ on a personal level – sadly I’m not lucky enough to be on first name terms with any world champions, as you can tell – I mean ‘like him’ in terms of respecting what he has achieved and what he continues to achieve, to a point.
While the media and the rest of the boxing world continues to hold Canelo up as a shining beacon of light for the sport’s future, the boxing faithful will be aware that several of his victories have been scarred by, what you could call, light controversy.
Let’s look at some examples.
Overly wide or too close scorecards seem to be becoming a trait of the young Mexican’s fight record, starting with Austin Trout back in 2013.
In what was a competitive and enjoyable contest between two classy operators, it was Canelo who came away with the unanimous decision victory – a victory I won’t dispute, it was well deserved.
However when it came down to the judges scorecards, one scorecard was understandably questionable – 118-109.
This stupidly wide card seemed to bear no resemblance to the fight that had just taken place and offered no justice to a defeated but honourable Trout.
But hey, this is boxing. These things can happen every now and again, so think nothing of it.
Canelo hits the jackpot – a shot at Floyd Mayweather
In what was expected to be the Money Man’s biggest test to date, Mayweather dominated the bigger man, winning every single round in my books – there was simply no comparison between the two, and certainly no way Canelo could walk away with the decision.
The expletives that sprang forth from my mouth when I heard the words ‘Majority decision’ should not be repeated anywhere.
Thank the gods the two other judges saw sense but C.J Ross, who scored the fight even, was the first major indicator for me that with all his talent and positive energy, something was not quite right with Canelo.
Or, to be more precise, those surrounding him. Ross was pretty much forced out of the game after his impeccably dimwitted card.
But one thing was for certain, despite the highly controversial result, the fight went on to become the highest grossing single-event in sports history at that time and this couldn’t all be down to Mayweather alone.
Like De La Hoya and Mayweather before him, boxing had found it’s new box office draw.
Fast forward a year and Canelo found himself matched against Erislandy Lara. A good match-up, but one Canelo was ultimately expected to win.
The plan began to dissipate when Lara came out more aggressively than expected, beating him to the punch with quick one-twos. Canelo returned fire in what turned out to be a very close fought battle.
Or so you would think.
While the decision was split, the third judge offered a score of 117-111 in favour of Canelo. A result which remains hugely disputed to this day by fans and critics alike.
The third miraculously inaccurate card for Canelo in 14 months. Do you see where I’m going with this yet?
After a ‘KO of the Year’ winning performance against James Kirkland, the red-headed Mexican set his sights on veteran Miguel Cotto and his version of the Middleweight title.
Arguably the most controversial of Canelo’s decision victories to date, all three judges scored the fight in favour of Canelo – a fair call based on the fight – but all three cards were insanely wide.
You’d think Cotto barely lifted a finger. Four for four. Getting the picture?
But wait, there’s more!
In a shock twist to the middleweight scene, former light welterweight world champion Amir Khan stepped up to challenge Canelo for the Middleweight belt.
Worrying, considering his chin’s less than stellar reputation, but gutsy nonetheless.
As predicted, Khan came out fast, circling Canelo and throwing lightning combinations which were landing effectively for the first five rounds.
Things were going Khan’s way, in a big way, until a devastating right hand knocked Khan out cold in the sixth. What we all expected – no controversy to be found here.
The controversy came when the judges scoring up until the knockout were revealed.
Two judges had Canleo ahead going into the sixth, one of which was four rounds to one – a ridiculous idea if I’m being honest.
Khan dominated rounds one to four with five being a little closer but still swinging Khan’s way in most people’s eyes.
Teddy Atlas gives the most honest and respectable view on the judges’ scoring I’ve seen.
If you’re a boxing fan and you only watch one video today, please make it this one from the folks at the Fight Hub YouTube channel:
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