How Canelo Alvarez Was Knocking Out Full-Grown Men At 15 Years Old
Pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez is now 30 but at the age of just 15, he was a professional boxer in Mexico knocking out grown men in tiny venues.
The middleweight champ had his first pro fight in October 2005, three months after his 15th birthday. No sooner had he blown out the candles on that cake, he was trying to blow Abraham Gonzalez out of the ring with a vicious assault.
The video footage of his first pro fight shows him - at an age most of us are still eating Kit-Kats and avoiding homework - absolutely unloading on his more experienced opponent to get a stoppage in the fourth round.
As raw as he is, it's incredible to see a hint of the skills and power - bouncing off the ropes to fire in hooks as the crowd cheer - that would take him to the very top.
In Mexico, 15 is the youngest age a boxer can turn pro and Canelo's trainers decided to launch him early, as they were unable to find suitable junior opponents for their prodigy. Fair play: we pity the fellow 15-year-old who has to fight this beast.
Alvarez repaid them in style, knocking out 11 of 13 opponents in the first 19 months of his career - all of whom were far more experienced than him.
If you assume they were all chinless no-hopers, you'd be wrong. In just his third pro fight, the 15-year-old Canelo won a decision over a future lightweight world champion, Miguel Vazquez, himself 18 years old at the time.
Overall, Canelo recorded 21 pro fights (20 wins, one draw) before he turned 18.
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What's even more amazing is that Chepo Reynoso, his trainer Eddy's father, has claimed the young Canelo won another 10 fights in his early years. But these cards (in the Mexican state of Nayarit) were so poorly documented, they have never made it on to the fighter's record.
His rapid career progress continued as Canelo won his first world title at the age of 20, beating Ricky Hatton's brother, Matthew, over 12 rounds to take his record to 36-0-1. Some elite boxers have retired with less pro fights.
But if anyone thought this accelerated start to his career would burn Alvarez out, there's no sign of it yet. His sole pro defeat is when the 23-year-old was out-slicked by Floyd Mayweather, but he's steadily improved since.
After his memorable two-fight series with Gennady Golovkin, the Mexican heartthrob is boxing better than ever. He is the highest-paid boxer in the sport - and sits near the top of any pound-for-pound top 10.
The 30-year-old has also refined his technique, transitioning from largely being a counterpuncher early on to one of the best pure hitters in the sport - as his savage KOs of James Kirkland and Amir Khan show. Have mercy, El Canelo!
If only his early opponents, who looked across the rind and saw an awkward, red-headed, 15-year-old kid in the opposite corner knew exactly what they were letting themselves in for. Well, they probably did soon after the first bell rung.
Feature image: PA Imagers/Canelo Alvarez