Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez fighting patience
It's easy for us boxing writers to say it's time to throw Mexico's Saul "Canelo" Alvarez to the wolves of the sport's rich 154-pound division.
Alvarez (37-0-1, 27 KOs) owns the World Boxing Council belt, after all, and shouldn't he be taking on someone such as the rugged challenger Alfredo Angulo or fellow champ Miguel Cotto instead of former reality television fighter Alfonso Gomez?
"Whoever they put in front of me, I'll fight," Alvarez said Tuesday, preparing in Big Bear for his Sept. 17 title defense against Gomez (23-4-2, 12 KOs) at Staples Center.
Yet, Alvarez just turned 21 years old, he's a box-office magnet with his bright red hair and easy smile, and why not let the interest in him grow some before unwisely allowing him to get roughed up?
That's the dilemma at Golden Boy Promotions, where Oscar De La Hoya knows the cautious early path that worked for him in setting up years of multi-million-dollar pay days on the road to retirement.
Widening the audience against softer foes, however, invites an avalanche of criticism.
"There is no hurry on me," Alvarez said. "It's part of the game. I just do my job. I've told them I want the best. They know when it's my time to fight the best."
De La Hoya admits he's had to warn Alvarez, "Your time will come, take it easy. One step at a time. You have to build these fights."
Alvarez is forcing the issue by overwhelming recent foes such as former title contender Carlos Baldomir in a sixth-round KO at Staples last September, following that with a one-sided beatdown of Matthew Hatton in March at Honda Center to win the title, and his first defense -- a 12th-round TKO of veteran Ryan Rhodes in Mexico.
"Every person we put in front of him, he beats easy," De La Hoya said. "We want him in there against tough, legitimate fighters, but he's blowing everyone away."
Gomez, 30, was beat up by Cotto in his 2008 title shot and he's beaten the faded Arturo Gatti and Jose Luis Castillo.
De La Hoya's brother, Joel, is helping consult on Alvarez's career path, and he said Golden Boy wants to watch the Sept. 17 performance closely. The company would love to arrange a guaranteed sellout against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. next year, but they're unsure of Chavez's interest.
Joel De La Hoya said if Alvarez is impressive against Gomez all super-welterweight opponents -- Cotto included -- would be on the table for a 2012 bout.
"We are 100% a team," Alvarez said. "I'm counting on them and I know they're counting on me."
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: Saul "Canelo" Alvarez celebrates after beating his contender British Ryan Rhodes during their fight in June. Credit: Ulises Ruiz Basurto / European Press Agency