SAN ANTONIO – Canelo Alvarez realizes there are some boxing observers who will never recognize him as the number one fighter, pound-for-pound, in the sport.
The 30-year-old Alvarez legitimized himself as a four-weight world champion last Saturday night, when he dominated England’s Callum Smith in their 12-round, 168-pound championship match at Alamodome. That thorough victory earned Alvarez the WBA “super” and vacant WBC super middleweight titles, and eliminated doubt about whether he could authentically call himself a 168-pound champion.
Mexico’s Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) previously won world titles in the junior middleweight (154 pounds), middleweight (160) and light heavyweight (175) divisions. He won the WBA world super middleweight title from England’s Rocky Fielding two years ago, but Smith (27-1, 19 KOs) was already the WBA’s true 168-pound champ at that time and had stopped Fielding (28-2, 16 KOs) in the first round three years before Alvarez beat him by third-round technical knockout in December 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Before beating the 6-feet-3 Smith so soundly, Alvarez already was considered the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world by many. BoxingScene.com, ESPN.com and The Ring magazine are among the outlets that list Alvarez at the top of pound-for-pound lists.
Alvarez knows, though, that there remain detractors that consider undefeated three-division champion Terence Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs) the number one boxer in the sport, pound-for-pound. Crawford’s critics insist that his resume since the Omaha, Nebraska, native moved up to the welterweight division 2½ years ago doesn’t warrant top pound-for-pound status.
“There’s always gonna be that group of people that no matter what you do, they’re never gonna care, they’re never gonna like you,” Alvarez said during a post-fight press conference early Sunday morning. “It doesn’t matter how many titles you earn, they’re never gonna care, they’re never gonna like you. But there is that group of people that always stick with you. And that’s who I’m happy to have, and that’s who I’m happy to keep happy.”
Alvarez’s detractors contend that he should’ve lost his first middleweight title fight against Gennadiy Golovkin. That 12-round bout resulted in a suspect split draw in September 2017 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Alvarez also tested positive for clenbuterol, a banned substance, in March 2018. That failed test drew a sixth-month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission and caused a four-month postponement of his 12-round rematch versus Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs), which Alvarez won by majority decision in September 2018 at T-Mobile Arena.
Those controversies aside, Alvarez hasn’t officially lost since undefeated five-division champion Floyd Mayweather beat him by majority decision in their 12-round junior middleweight title fight in September 2013 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Alvarez is 12-0-1 since his loss to Mayweather.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.