By: Sean Crose
I want my university students to emulate Canelo Alvarez. Truly. I don’t necessarily want them to box or to aim to behave like Canelo in his private life (which the man keeps private). No, what I want my university students to do is employ the one thing that makes the red haired fighter great. For Canelo, more than anyone else, has never let a bad night go to waste. A high profile loss, a draw and two too close for comfort decision wins haven’t been excused away. Rather, they appear to have been improved upon. Canelo doesn’t fear defeat – he learns from it.
No athlete in contemporary combat sports has improved over the years the way Canelo has. There is no denying the Canelo who recently plowed through Avni Yildirim is not the same fighter who Floyd Mayweather made easy work of in 2013. Of course, Canelo is now older, and bigger, than the man bested by Mayweather close to a decade ago, but he is also in possession of a ring IQ that is probably the best in the business. Even when in tough against the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, or Erislandy Lara, the man never once appears ill at east. For the mind is working, and he is sure of the plan.
That sort of confidence doesn’t come overnight. It comes from trying – and sometimes failing. There are those – this author included – who feel he never truly defeated Golovkin. This writer also felt it was Lara who should have gotten the nod in their 2014 battle. Yet, even if all these men were simultaneously in their primes at the moment, this writer would also favor Canelo were he to face them now. For Canelo is currently a combination of speed, slick defense, and power in the ring. Canelo’s body shots, in particular, are things of terrible beauty.
All of these things have been honed over time. Such skills can be honed when one has a steady diet of challenging experiences, and Canelo has faced one notable challenge after another. Although not all of his fights are high level events, no one fighting above lightweight today is regularly engaging in the type of competition Canelo is at the moment. With an upcoming fight against the gifted and slick Billy Joe Saunders right around the corner, Canelo is once again taking a risk. And why shouldn’t he? If experience is a teacher, then he is unquestionably the game’s most well learned student.