Now we’ll find out: Is boxer Canelo Alvarez legit? Is he a champion, the truest kind in the truest sense against the truest jaw-wreckers?

Sure, he’s piled up wins with 49 in 51 fights. He’s beaten “Sugar” Shane Mosley … at 40. He’s toppled Julio Cesar Chavez … Jr. He charged bull-in-china shop style into a jab-fest against Floyd Mayweather at a far-too-green 23.

There’s ability. There’s fearlessness. There’s star power, especially in his native Mexico.

But until now, something’s remained elusive: validation.

That carrot awaits the carrot-topped puncher Sept. 16 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The chance to edit the narrative and obliterate doubts comes in the form of Gennady Golovkin, the sport’s unified middleweight champ who’s widely considered the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Win and the asterisks vanish.

“I think that the winner,” Alvarez said in a teleconference Tuesday, “should be recognized as potentially the best fighter in the world.”

Alvarez needs this. So does boxing.

The mainstream lost track of the sport at the close of the 1980s, a time with marquee names sprinkled across weight classes. It was George Foreman and Larry Holmes, Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran. Only Mike Tyson kept interest flickering into the 1990s.

Suddenly, and almost silently in comparison to boxing’s robust roar of a generation ago, a fight materialized with true stars and more substance than bluster. A sport constantly trying to sell actually has something worth all that expended oxygen.

The test is real. Alvarez is wise to sharpen his pencil.

An ESPN segment called “Sports Science” measured Golovkin’s punching power at more than 2,100 pounds of peak force — or the equivalent of boxers fighting two weight divisions higher. His hands, the show concluded, accelerate faster than a top-fuel dragster.

To break through — and break Golovkin — Alvarez needs to pick up the pace.

“Canelo is a busier fighter,” said Don Chargin, the 89-year-old Hall of Fame promoter who booked fights at the legendary Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. “Triple-G is constantly looking for that one big shot. He’s constantly setting you up for that.

“Canelo is more of a volume puncher. He’s one of the best body punchers I’ve ever seen. He’s got that hook to the liver. With either hand, Triple-G can bury you.”

You get the idea. This promises to be the opposite of the pay-per-view snoozer between Mayweather and then-fading Manny Pacquiao.

Saul Canelo Alvarez
Saul Canelo Alvarez
Chargin is still explaining that mess around the neighborhood.

“I had people over to watch that one,” he said. “A couple of them haven’t wanted to watch a fight since, they were so disappointed. Both of these guys fight. They’ll be throwing punches.”

Plenty of people grumbled about Alvarez promoter Oscar De La Hoya tapping the brakes on this fight the past couple of years. The strategy, though, proved as smart and savvy as it was frustrating.

The time allowed Alvarez to fill out and become a true middleweight. The pause also let Golovkin, now 35, put a little more wear on the tires.

Instead of being in the midst of a psyche-wilting 23-fight knockout streak, riding the highest rate in middleweight history, Golovkin is coming off a more mortal unanimous decision against Daniel Jacobs that remained in doubt late.

If this fight happened two years ago, Golovkin wins in virtually every scenario that doesn’t involved meteors or locusts. Now Alvarez, who polished much of his skill at San Diego’s House of Boxing, is facing the man — rather than man and myth combined.

“I could have never imagined the magnitude that it’s gotten to, but I’ve always wanted this,” Alvarez said.

This will be just the second time, the first since the Mayweather tussle, that Alvarez will enter a fight as an oddsmaker’s underdog. Few mention, though, that this will be a significant competitive upgrade for Golovkin, too.

The fight officially is sold out, with the cheapest nose-bleed seats listing for $785 on StubHub. Pre-fight hospitality access is selling for $300. And that’s not even on the property.

“Listen, the interest is tremendous,” Chargin said. “Friends call me thinking I can help get tickets and I can’t. People aren’t even blinking at the price. That’s when you know you have something.”

As the spotlight warms, so do the expectations.

“I’ve always pictured myself or imagined myself being one of the best fighters and being in big fights,” said Alvarez, 27.

So it’s Golovkin, 37-0 with 33 knockouts. And it’s Alvarez, 49-1-1 with 34 failing to go the distance.

“Now you’ve got me excited, talking about it,” Chargin said. “I wish it was tomorrow.”

The San Diego-shaped Alvarez has waited a long time.

Boxing has, too.

Source: Bryce Miller, Contact Reporter| San Diego Tribunal