ALVAREZ: 17-year-old prospect steps up.
Ciudad Neza, Mexico, April 18
Graham's Odds: 
Martinez -120; Alvarez +100
Over 10.5 -185; under 10.5 +165

Professional careers start early in Mexico, and so, at the age of 17, welterweight Saul Alvarez finds himself topping the bill on Friday’s Telemundo show in a 12-rounder against the slightly more mature Gabriel Martinez with an Hispanic regional title at stake.

I know little about Alvarez. Promoter Tuto Zabala tells me: “He’s supposed to be the next big thing out of Mexico, but he’s got his hands full on Friday.”

Alvarez lost his third bout but has been winning since. He went 12 rounds in winning a decision over a southpaw named Ricardo Cano last August, but this might not mean a lot. Cano is an ordinary fighter (I saw his bout with Romanian prospect Ionut Dan Ion in Montreal and Cano was outclassed and almost got stopped in the last round).

Martinez, 20, is unbeaten and I saw him from ringside in Las Vegas when he fought a draw with another undefeated boxer, Euri Gonzalez, of the Dominican Republic. Both threw lots of punches but I thought that Gonzalez had the advantage. I was more impressed with Martinez, though, when I watched him stop Nurhan Suleymanoglu, the former world-class amateur, on a Telefutura show in January of last year. Although Suleymanoglu looked a worn-out fighter at 35 he still had some good moves and went to the body well, but Martinez took over the fight with some sharp punching — including switching to a southpaw stance — and by the seventh the older man was taking a lot of punishment.

So, we have two young fighters here — one of them very young. Martinez is more of a known quantity but his record shows a couple of struggles against fighters of modest accomplishment, while Mexican fight people seem to be somewhat excited about Alvarez.

I make Martinez the favourite but Alvarez might be good enough to rise to this next level type of fight. If this sounds as if I am prevaricating, it is because I am. I’ll guess that Martinez wins a hard-fought decision.

RESULT: Alvarez TKO end of 11.

Last Updated: 
April 16, 2008 - 3:47am