Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is presumably the most important star on the planet of boxing and possesses an aura and presence which transcends sport.
A world icon and a powerhouse within the enterprise world, the Mexican sits firmly on the prime of the pound-for-pound checklist and is zoned in on changing into a billionaire earlier than too lengthy.
But his hopes and desires will be dashed this Saturday evening in Texas when he takes on Billy Joe Saunders in a super-middleweight unification title combat.
Canelo has an amazing report in opposition to British fighters; rising victorious from all six conferences with opponents from Blighty.
Callum Smith was the latest foe to fail in opposition to the Mexican, being dismantled systematically earlier than Christmas.
Though Saunders has by no means tasted defeat in 30 skilled fights, the WBO king of the 168lbs is aware of he has all of it to do in opposition to one of many easiest of this era.
One man who is aware of all in regards to the pitfalls of going through Canelo is Matthew Hatton, the previous European welterweight champion who fought him in 2011.
With Manny Pacquiaio’s just lately relinquished WBC super-welterweight title on the road, Hatton jumped on the alternative to face the fresh-faced famous person in Los Angeles.
“I have to admit, Canelo was the rising star in world boxing,” he advised talkSPORT. “He was a famous person already.
“And I have to admit, it did shock me fairly how large of a star he was again then. The backing he will get, the group he will get.
“I used to be skilled on the time and had been across the sport for a very long time however, I have to admit, it did shock me simply how standard he was and the way a lot he was being backed.
“I knew right away once I boxed Canelo, even in all probability throughout the first two rounds; it definitely hasn’t shocked me that he has gone on to attain what he has within the sport.
“I knew right away I used to be within the ring with a particular fighter.”
As with Saunders and the just lately resolved situation with the ring dimension, Canelo used his famous person standing to play thoughts video games along with his British opponent and get him sweating.
Hatton described his opponent on the evening as trying like ‘Popeye after the spinach’ and performed on the Brit’s willingness to combat.
He added: “Canelo was large on the evening and that’s the factor with these prime fighters, they’ve obtained excellent groups round them who’re on the lookout for each little benefit that they’ll get.
“And with me, they definitely performed it proper with the load. They knew precisely what they have been doing at each step with the combat.
“We agreed to combat initially at welterweight. Then, once I was in coaching for the camp, about three or 4 weeks in they mentioned Manny Pacquaio was going to be stripped of his world light-middleweight title, however we must make the combat barely heavier – so at 10st 10lbs.
“I used to be all the time a profession welterweight and I keep in mind on the weigh-in, Canelo by no means made the load – he was simply over two kilos heavier. He had an hour to return and make the load, however he got here again even heavier so he hadn’t even tried to make the load.
“I spoke to my workforce and I had been coaching a very long time and I used to be over in LA, with a number of of my supporters watching, so I may have walked away with a proportion of my purse. Nevertheless it wasn’t my type, I nonetheless needed to combat.
“These particular fighters have nice groups spherical them they usually search for each little edge they’ll get.”
The combat itself was at a livid tempo, with neither man backing down and Canelo attempting to make use of his apparent dimension and weight benefit to bully the travelling fighter.
Regardless of being bloodied and battered, Hatton stored firing again mixture punches within the hope of stopping the momentum, however misplaced a large factors choice ultimately.
But the expertise of being inside that ring with Canelo has by no means left Hatton, who now trains his nephew Campbell, and he remembers the technical nous which matched the brute drive and aggression.
He mentioned: “Actually being within the ring with him inside 30 seconds and I believe he threw a left hook which I blocked on the glove and I used to be like ‘Jesus Christ, that is going to be a protracted powerful evening’.
“A very robust puncher, bodily so robust and he picks his punches so properly so I knew right away it was going to be a extremely powerful evening.”
Like his elder brother Callum, Liam Smith additionally spent severe time within the ring with Canelo, going 9 rounds in entrance of a vociferous Dallas crowd in 2016.
Having been dropped within the seventh, Smith was crumpled as soon as once more with a vicious left hook to the physique as he surrendered his WBO super-welterweight crown.
Though the facility performed a vital function on the evening, the Liverpudlian rememebers the 30-year-old as merely being so full and well-rounded.
He advised talkSPORT: “There aren’t many chinks in his armour; he’s defensively excellent, he’s technically excellent, his energy is excellent and he has obtained all the pieces.
“That’s why I believe he’s so onerous to determine; he can field, he can combat, he can transfer and I believe Billy Joe is in for a little bit of a protracted evening with him to be trustworthy with you.
“I don’t suppose it’s his key energy,” he added. “His boxing capacity and ring IQ are extra spectacular than his energy.
“However the energy is sweet sufficient to get anybody’s respect.”
If Saunders is to emerge on Sunday morning because the proud new proprietor of the WBC, WBA and Ring Journal titles, the consensus is that he should use each inch of the ring to combat off his again foot and get on his bike.
And Hatton believes that superior foot pace could possibly be essential if the two-weight world champion is to depart Texas along with his fame enhanced after pulling off one of many greatest upsets in boxing historical past.
He concluded: “One factor I’ve all the time mentioned about Canelo, and I wouldn’t say it’s a weak spot for me as a result of he has change into such a whole fighter, however definitely the pace of foot.
“I believe that’s positively the place Billy Joe has obtained the sting this weekend, within the footwork and the foot pace. Once more, that was one thing that I recognized, nevertheless it’s not a weak spot – simply not certainly one of his strengths!
“And I believe Billy Joe may have the quicker ft in there on Saturday.”