Four months after Floyd Mayweather Jr. utterly dismantled the legendary Arturo Gatti, a 15-year-old phenom from Jalisco, Mexico, knocked out Abraham Gonzalez (currently 1-10) in four rounds.
In less than eight years, he has become one of the biggest names in the entire sport, and after 42 victories, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is ready set to face the king of the hill this weekend (Sat., Sept. 14, 2013) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada:
Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr.
The clash between the two will headline the most hyped boxing pay-per-view (PPV) card in recent memory, a Saturday night special provided by the Showtime network that also features the most anticipated Junior Welterweight bout in ages:
Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse.
With 42 professional victories to his credit at just 23 years young, Alvarez has already amassed quite the highlight reel. Here are, in no particular order, the "Greatest Hits" of the reigning, undefeated WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine Light Middleweight Champion, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez:
Canelo Alvarez vs. Carlos Baldomir | Sept. 19, 2010
I'm not going to insult your combat sports intelligence by implying that this was a surprising win over a dangerous opponent.
Carlos Baldomir pulled off an insane upset over Zab Judah in 2006, but was well and truly shopworn by the time he took on the Mexican sensation, even missing the 151-pound catchweight. His one remaining claim to fame was near-superhuman durability -- the man had not been knocked out since 1994.
Sixteen years of survival ended with a thunderous "Canelo" left hook.
Defeating Baldomir in 2010 is not, by itself, cause for celebration. Putting Baldomir face-down, ass-up is something special.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Ryan Rhodes | June 18, 2011
Ryan Rhodes may not have the name of Kermit Cintron or Shane Mosley, but he was expected to be Alvarez's stiffest test to date.
With 49 fights to his name and a win streak that dated back to 2006, Rhodes represented the classic prospect's trial: The skilled veteran with more than 10 years of ring experience. Even in defeat, many figured he would push Alvarez farther than any of his previous victims.
The Rhodes fight is a shining example of what happens when you allow Alvarez to plant his feet. This was a combination punching clinic, with "Canelo" consistently landing powerful sequences of blows to the head and body. To his credit, Rhodes went down just once (in the fourth round), but at no point did it look like anything but a superstar crushing another stepping stone.
If this was a major test, Alvarez passed with extra credit to boot.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Austin Trout | May 20, 2013
Honestly, I flip-flopped on whether to include this fight or Canelo's annihilation of Josesito Lopez. Lopez was beaten down with incredible ease, and considering that he gave Marcos Maidana absolute hell in his next bout, that means something.
By contrast, Alvarez looked more human than ever against Austin Trout, with some feeling he was lucky to escape with a victory.
But, that's exactly the reason I'm including this here. Brave as Lopez -- a blown-up Junior Welterweight is -- he allowed Canelo to get into his comfort zone. Trout is a legitimate Junior Middleweight, incredibly skilled, crafty and tenacious.
He did what Rhodes failed to do, forcing Alvarez to pull out all the stops.
Canelo was unable to do what he does best: Unload combinations on a stationary opponent. And yet he still went tit-for-tat with arguably the top fighter in his weight class. That means a lot more to me than beating the hell out of a man too small to pose a threat, no matter how gorgeous the finishing combination.
That's a wrap for this edition of "Greatest Hits." We'll be back tomorrow with another "Money" list.
Meanwhile, stay tuned for all the "Mayweather vs. Canelo" coverage you could ask for right here at MMAmania.com.