Saul “Canelo” Alvarez took yet another step in becoming the next best thing in boxing with an impressive sixth-round knockout of a game Alfonso Gomez. But now, having won his 38th out of 39 fights (he has one draw), is he ready to step up to main-event status?
The Staples Center crowd unofficially estimated at 9,000 certainly thought so, cheering loudly at every punch and breaking into spontaneous chants of “Ca-ne-lo.” Alvarez got his nickname from his red hair, as canelo translates into cinnamon.
Even though both fighters are from Guadalajara, Mexico, the crowd cheered wildly for Alvarez from when he was first shown in the dressing room until he was declared still WBC super-welterweight champion.
But Alvarez, with a strong, measured yet dominating performance Saturday, has yet to have the fight that could define the 21-year-old.
The most logical big-name, next-step opponents — should Golden Boy Promotions want to risk their future franchise — is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., or Miguel Cotto, should he win his next fight on Dec. 3 against Antonio Margarito.
Alvarez set the tone for the fight in the opening round, dropping Gomez with a left with seconds remaining. Gomez wasn’t hurt but it certainly was a precursor as to how the evening would go.
Gomez (23-5-2) showed some confidence in his punches in the third round as Alvarez was satisfied for occasional flurries. But as the fight evolved it was clear that Alvarez’s superior power and dangerous left lead were too much for Gomez.
The end came in the sixth when Alvarez staggered the 30-year-old with a right, then chased him to the ropes where he pounded the defenseless Gomez until referee Wayne Hedgspeth stepped in to stop the fight.
“I did my job in the beginning,” Alvarez said. “I hit him hard in the first round and I knew it was only a matter of time.”
The Saturday event was billed as celebrating Mexican Independence Day by presenting the first ever tripleheader of live fights, pay-per-view (of the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz bout) and a live concert by Los Tuchanes de Tijuana and El Gran Silencia.
In an undercard designed to fatten up younger Golden Boy fighters’ records, featherweight Mikayl Arreola (18-0) won a unanimous decision over Juan Sandoval (5-7-1), as did welterweight Antonio Orozco (12-0) over Fernando Rodriguez (6-6).
Then in a super-welterweight fight, Hugo Centeno (9-0) won a decision over Alfredo Rivera (1-9) in a fight much better than one would have expected.