Unbeaten Alvarez a champion at 21, but isn't in hurry

He may be just 21 years old, but Saul "Canelo" Alvarez already has had a professional boxing career most fighters could only dream about.

Alvarez, the reigning WBC junior middleweight champion, has yet to lose in 40 fights and he said his best is still to come.

"I have a big career ahead of me," Alvarez (39-0-1, 29 knockouts) said Monday at IBA Gym, where he's staying loose for Saturday's title defense against former world champion and future Hall of Famer Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand Garden. "There's a lot of good fights to be made and a lot of good fighters out there and some good young fighters coming up."

For the time being, Alvarez is content fighting at 154 pounds. But he said he eventually will move up to 160 pounds and perhaps meet fellow Mexican star Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the WBC middleweight champ.

"But now is not the time. I'm very comfortable where I am," Alvarez said. "I have no trouble making weight. I am where I'm supposed to be at this point of my career.

"Right now, fighting (Chavez) isn't going to happen because we are in different weight classes. But in a few years? Maybe."

Alvarez, who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, turned pro when he was 15. But he quickly showed his aptitude in the ring and, within four years, he was the NABF welterweight champion. In 2011, he won the vacant WBC junior middleweight belt, beating Matthew Hatton.

On Saturday, he will make his fourth title defense against the most experienced fighter he has yet to face. Alvarez's most recent ring appearance came last Nov. 26 in Mexico where he stopped Kermit Cintron in the fifth round.

"I think Shane is a very seasoned fighter and I am preparing for the best Shane Mosley," Alvarez said of his 40-year-old opponent (46-7-1, 39 KOs). "I know I have to be at my best and I need to dominate and look good winning. But I know everything about Mosley and I'm prepared for anything."

Alvarez said there had been extensive discussions about fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. but no firm financial offer was made, so when WBA junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto accepted the chance to face Mayweather and headline Saturday's card, Alvarez was paired with Mosley in the co-feature.

"We were going to fly to Los Angeles and make the deal, but it didn't happen," Alvarez said of fighting Mayweather. "I hope we will meet someday. But for now, I'm only thinking about Shane Mosley."

Alvarez and Mosley trained a few blocks from each other in Big Bear, Calif. It was the third time Alvarez did his work away from Mexico and he was pleased with the way things went.

"The serenity is great," Alvarez said of Big Bear, where he trained for 41 days and did 129 four-minute rounds of sparring with six different partners. "It gets cold there, too. But you can get a lot done there."

Though boyish looking with red hair and freckles, Alvarez is mature for his age and he's also wise for someone so young. He knows he's a celebrity in his country and also a potential target for extortion or scandal. He has a small, tight circle of friends and he's careful about his image, where he goes and who he associates with.

"You have to protect yourself," he said. "With celebrity also comes enemies. But I'm not afraid. I take care of myself. I try to surround myself with people who love me and look after me, people who are positive."

Alvarez said he sees the mistakes that other high-profile athletes have made and he tries to learn so he doesn't mimic their bad behavior.

"Obviously you can't help but take notice," he said. "It's definitely something I'm aware of. You adapt and you learn to live the right way and appreciate what you have and what you've done."

And he's done a lot in six-plus years in the ring.

■ NOTES - The arrival of the fighters inside the MGM Grand's lobby begins at 1 p.m. today with Mosley's arrival, followed by Alvarez, Cotto and Mayweather. The event is free and open to the public. ... This is only the second time Alvarez has fought in Las Vegas. In 2010, he stopped Jose Miguel Cotto in the ninth round at the MGM Grand Garden on the undercard of the Mayweather-Mosley fight.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.


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