Canelo Neno

Photo by Al Applerose

Canelo, Neno and Other Marquee Moments

By David A. Avila

Boxing’s most pivotal weekend of the year provided a new superstar, a new rising star and perhaps the fight of the year in Las Vegas.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

Mexico’s red-headed Saul “Canelo” Alvarez defeated Puerto Rico’s number one guy Miguel Cotto to take the WBC middleweight title. More than that, he claims boxing’s bragging rights in the heated rivalry between countries that goes back more than 70 years.

Every single superstar from Mexico entered super stardom by defeating a Puerto Rican world champion and vice versa. The list of those accomplishing the feat reads like a boxing hall of fame roster. Names like Salvador Sanchez, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Oscar De La Hoya all began by defeating Puerto Rican stars.

“It was an honor to be in the ring with Miguel Cotto,” said Alvarez during the post-fight press conference. “From the opening round I felt stronger than him and that I had the advantage and was going to win the fight.”

Fight fans from around the world descended into Las Vegas to witness the historic moment. Cotto had annihilated the previous champions Sergio Martinez and Australia’s Daniel Geale. But Canelo Alvarez was an entirely different result.

“I have a lot of respect for Miguel Cotto,” said Alvarez, 25, who now has world titles in two weight divisions.

But will he fight the much feared Gennady “GGG” Golovkin who holds the WBA, IBF and IBO middleweight titles and hungers for Alvarez’s belt too.

“My goal is to win all the belts,” said Golovkin who witnessed the fight in person.

Alvarez said he’s friends with Golovkin and intends to face the “Mexican style” assassin soon.

“I have respect for him and I’m not afraid of anyone,” Alvarez said.

Saul Rodriguez

Riverside’s newest addition to boxing’s big time Saul “Neno” Rodriguez blew by Texas-bred Ivan Najera with an emphatic first round knockout in Las Vegas on Friday. Fans were left breathless by the decisive win.

For many boxing media it was their first glance at Rodriguez and they got an eyeful of the powerful arsenal of the lanky lightweight slugger. It took only 2:06 for Rodriguez to unleash a flashy two-punch combination that floored Najera. He got up groggily and was met with a four-punch barrage that sent him tumbling down again. The referee stopped the fight.

Several former world champions and television executives showed marked interest by Rodriguez’s firepower and skill. Current junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford looked intently as the Riverside prizefighter displayed his potent punching right in front of him.

Television executives commented on his impressive showing adding that they’re always looking for the next star.

“I’m glad everyone was here to see it,” said Rodriguez.

Now you can add Rodriguez’s name to the list of TV fighters along with Mauricio Herrera, Josesito Lopez, Chris Arreola, and Tim Bradley who provided TV analysis for the Rodriguez fight.

“He looked real good,” said Bradley.

Potential Fight of the Year Candidate

Mexico’s Francisco “Bandido” Vargas and Japan’s Takashi Miura took turns battering each other in their quest for the WBC super featherweight world title. It was a back and forth battle that left fans breathless in their seats.

Vargas opened the fight by nearly knocking down Miura but the Japanese fighter regained his senses quickly. From that point on Miura controlled the fight and floored Vargas with a perfectly place left cross.

Just when it looked like Miura would dispose of Mexico’s Vargas at the end of the eighth round, the clock expired giving him time to recover. In the ninth round Vargas jumped out of his corner and connected with an overhand right and down went Miura to the surprise of the fans. The Japanese warrior got up but was met with another volley of blows from Vargas and helpless against the ropes. Vargas was declared the new WBC super featherweight champion. Fans were in shock at the sudden turn about.

“He was strong,” said Vargas. “But I wanted to be a champion.”