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In the last couple of years, I have made an attempt to commit myself to being more of a boxing fan. I’ve always enjoyed boxing. My first real memories of getting excited about the sport was in the late 80s (and then again in the late 90s) with “Iron” Mike Tyson’s fights in the heavyweight division. Sure I know about superstar boxers before that time, but only from ESPN Classic, documentaries and books. I wouldn’t dare call myself an expert on Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, or George Foreman (before the grills), or say they were my favorite boxers, because I wasn’t around to witness all they were in their own time (I did own a Foreman Grill though… tremendous).

Anyway, as I was saying, in the last couple of years I have found my way back to the “sweet science.” It’s definitely no longer about the Heavyweights though. Sure guys like Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko are still awesome to watch (they’re like real-life Ivan Dragos!), but the real excitement in the sport in the last ten or fifteen years has been in the lighter divisions. Welter and middleweights like Oscar De La Hoya, Félix Trinidad, Roy Jones, Jr. and “Sugar” Shane Moseley helped pave the road to box office dominance for Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Bernard Hopkins.

With the current state of the Heavyweight Division, it seems pretty sure to say that the “little” guys will probably continue to dominate for the foreseeable future. This brings me (finally) to the man in the photograph. He is Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez. Along with Victor Ortiz and Julio César Chavez, Jr., “Canelo” (Spanish for “Cinnamon”) is one of the true up and coming superstars of the boxing world. He turned pro at fifteen and has dominated from the get-go, going 37-0-1 so far in 38 career fights. A few weeks ago, I watched him pummel British light middleweight, and former European champion, Ryan “Spice Boy” (Not the toughest of nicknames) Rhodes for twelve rounds, before the fight was stopped just shy of the final bell. By the time the ref stopped the beating, Rhodes’ face looked like a topographical map of the Rocky Mountains, and he had nothing left in him. The beating of Rhodes followed an equally impressive 12-round dismantling of fellow Briton Matthew Hatton (brother of Ricky) for the then vacant WBC light middleweight championship. It

Rhodes was just another victim.

Álvarez’s career is obviously off to a hot start, and I can’t wait to see what else he will do next, but that’s not why I’m writing about him. I’m sure many of you are wondering, why is there a picture of an Irish kid at the top of this post? I bet you were excited because you thought you were going to learn about the second coming of Mickey Ward. Or, maybe, you thought that E. from Entourage was making a boxing movie. Instead, you’re reading about a random Mexican boxer you may not have ever heard of. Well friends, to steal a line from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, “Finkle is Einhorn… Einhorn is Finkle.” The Irish looking kid in the picture is the hot Mexican boxing prospect of whom I speak!

Take a couple of minutes to collect yourselves and pick your jaws up off the floor and take that plunger away from your mouth (watch Ace Ventura… you’ll get that joke), because I am not kidding. He is 100% Mexican. I talked to my girlfriend (half-mexican herself) and she confirmed that there are lots of Mexicans like this in the area of Mexico City, and really all over.  I did some research and found out that Álvarez’s mother is also a red head. His six brothers, who also box (most notable is Rigoberto Álvarez, former WBA Light Middleweight Champion), are dark haired, however. We won’t talk about them. Finding out Álvarez is Mexican really got me excited. As a fellow surprise Hispanic (you should see the looks i get when i tell people I’m from Uruguay), I’m glad to see Saúl is reaching this level of fame. He’s helping show the world that not every Hispanic looks like Luis Guzmán. We can be white-skinned, blond, red-haired and even blue-eyed! Although, if you asked me, I would have guessed he was a fellow Uruguayan way before I would have guessed Mexican.

Be he Irish, Uruguayan or Mexican, Álvarez will fight again on Sept 17th, on the under card of the next Floyd Mayweather, Jr. fight (Floyd fights Victor Ortiz, the prospect I mentioned earlier). No opponent has yet been named, although Alfredo Angulo and Chávez, Jr. are names that have been floated around.  During the post-fight interviews, Álvarez said that he is ready for whoever gets put in front of him, even “The Devil.” That’s not the nickname of another boxer, Álvarez meant that he would actually fight the Prince of Darkness if his promoters told him that’s who was next on the list. Frankly, I’d like to see that… imagine the betting line! Whoever he does fight against next, I hope Saúl continues his meteoric climb up the boxing ranks, and someday becomes the guy who dethrones Pacquiao (It’s fun to think about, and someone has to… right?)

Until then, he is Santos Saúl Álvarez Barragán: 100% Mexican. ¡¡Arriba la Raza!!


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rhodes image courtesy of:

Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.