By Ernest Gabion, photo by Team Alvarez
Undefeated sensation Saul Alvarez is now in the record books, as the 20-year old wunderkind became the youngest ever junior middleweight titlist after easily handling Matthew Hatton in their 12-round bout Saturday evening at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Scores were 119-108 across the board in the evening’s main event, which aired live on HBO’s Boxing After Dark series.
From the outset this was the mismatch we feared for. The phrase "from pillar to post" had this exact fight in mind. Size, skill, power intangibles all swayed heavily for Alvarez.
Canelo picked him apart, countered everything Hatton threw and had Hatton reeling with almost every landed punch. By the 2nd round Hatton was already bleeding from the nose and also visibly shaken from the body attack Canelo launched.
The 7th saw the lone Hatton moment when referee Lou Moret deducted a point away from Alvarez for hitting him on the break.
The 9th round was where we finally saw Hatton wane from the punishment he took, wobbling in spots from the uppercuts and right hands Alvarez landed. While this was a one sided affair, Hatton seemed in it just enough to allow Moret to continue on with the action.
The final rounds couldn't have come fast enough for Hatton as he managed to see the final bell and maybe gain a moral victory out of the bludgeoning he received. The scorecards of 119-108 were mere formalities as Alvarez now becomes the WBC Super Welterweight Champion of the world improving his record to 36-0 (26KOs). Hatton falls to 41-5 (16KOs).
While impressive was his victory tonight we do have to take into account the competition in front of him.
As game as Hatton was tonight, he is still a career welterweight and a fringe contender in that division at best. Alvarez seemingly has all the offensive tools you want in a young champ throwing lead left hooks, counter uppercuts both to the body and head at will.
There's also a calm to Canelo that you cannot teach. Even when he was buzzed by Jose Cotto last year he remained composed. This fight was no different as while Hatton went for homerun swings like he was Prince Fielder, Canelo remained in the pocket, making Hatton pay for his mistakes.
Whenever Hatton tried to get dirty, Alvarez calmly gave back what he was given. When he sensed Hatton was in trouble, he went for it with vigor, pleasing the large, vocal and boisterous crowd of 11,674 (the second largest boxing attendance at the Honda Center) out to support him.
Tonight was a man against a boy only the man is now the youngest ever WBC Super Weltereight Champion of the World. I wonder how young of a champion Fernando Vargas would have been if he had Matthew Hatton in front of him.
I also wonder how high of a ceiling Alvarez has. He has looked great, he has looked okay, and he has looked like the young kid he is. Those are traits you expect from a young fighter on his way to contender status; not exactly what you expect from your newest champion.
I don't think I am alone when I call Alvarez an enigma.
A nation's adornment and adulation brought attention to this 20 year old wunderkind who seems to have the proper mix of looks and style a promoter would find little issue to get behind. He has shown a skillset to justify why people call him the next great Mexican legend.
While I am unsure of what I see in Alvarez, apparently the WBC isn't. For some unseen reason the WBC wants to anoint this young man a champion earlier than even Alvarez had wished for and has sanctioned this as a title fight for the belt Manny Pacquiao won in November and then later vacated.
So did tonight's fight against Matthew Hatton, who himself is a career welterweight, answer any questions as to who or what is exactly Alvarez?
I think so.
BRONER DECISIONS PONCE DE LEON OVER TEN
Opening the TV portion of tonight's card was an entertaining and yet curious fight as undefeated lightweight prospect Adrien Broner scored a unanimous decision over former junior featherweight titlist Daniel Ponce de Leon in their 10-round co-feature.
For starters, while you could see Cincinnati's Broner coming into the ring with the help of two hip hop artists doing their routine I would have never envisioned Mexico's Daniel Ponce De Leon coming out to his own rap artist.
Then there was the size. Ponce de Leon, who never weighed more than 127lbs in a fight, seemed dwarfed in the ring by Broner who has weighed as high as 140lbs.
In the opening rounds, both fighters seemed unwilling to take the lead in this dance. However by the third we saw what would shape up to the main pattern of the fight, Ponce working hard to get inside Broner's punch radius while Broner seemingly content to pick off Ponce from the outside.
When Broner was on the offensive he had the fight his way almost hitting Ponce de Leon at will, utilizing the size advantage he had in this fight. However, for large stretches he just sat in front of Ponce de Leon letting him back into a rhythm and back into the fight just when it seemed Broner could pull away from him.
While Broner, now 20-0 (16KO) walked away with a unanimous decision by scores of 96-94 twice and an inexplicable score of 99-91, what could have been a signature win instead left a lot to be desired.
He was the bigger man yet fought in less than dominating fashion. He seemingly could hit Ponce de Leon at will yet was reluctant to let his hands go save for countering, and didn't state his case loud enough to warrant a coveted TV slot for further HBO dates.
For Ponce de Leon (now 41-3,34KO), what you see is what you get. Not much skill, a lot of heart, and an effort each time he has crossed those ropes.
The one thing lacking in this fight we are accustomed to seeing from him is the power he showed at both 122lbs and 126lbs and I have to speculate this was due to the size discrepancy between the two.
For his sake let's hope he drops back to the featherweight division where he is the WBO mandatory challenger. The title is currently held by Juan Manuel Lopez, who knocked out Ponce de Leon in one round in their June ’08 bout.
The fight was Ponce de Leon’s lone appearance on HBO’s main network (having previously appeared on HBO Latino), but had won nine straight entering Saturday’s fight, including a highlight-reel third round knockout of Antonio Escalante last September.
Ponce de Leon is still in line for a title shot, though he might have to wait until the title is vacated, as Lopez has openly discussed moving up to 130 lb. in the near future.