Canelo’s boxing style is without a doubt one of the best and most exciting to watch in the sport today.
In this post, I’ll look at who he is, his unique contrasting fighting style, and some tricks and tips you can learn to bring into your own boxing game.
Who is Canelo Alvarez?
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is a Mexican professional boxer and one of the biggest stars in the sport of boxing today. Canelo is original from the outskirts of Guadalajara and started his boxing career at a very young age before turning professional at just 15 years old! Since starting his pro career, he quickly went on to become the youngest light middleweight champion of all time in 2011.
Canelo has amassed victories over many world champions and pound-for-pound greats in his career. Picking up world title belts in 4 weight divisions so far. Light middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight, and light heavyweight. This has included fighters such as Shane Mosely, Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan, Daniel Jacobs, Sergey Kovalev, Billy Joe Saunders, and his biggest rival to date Gennady Golovkin. His only defeat comes at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2013.
Although there has been controversy in his victories over Golovkin. Many consider him pound for pound as one of the best and most exciting fighters to watch in this era of boxing. Especially after becoming an undisputed super-middleweight champion in 2021.
Alvarez has picked up an impressive 14 world titles in 4 weight divisions including The Ring and Lineal titles. See below for yourself:
- NABF welterweight title
- WBC light middleweight title
- WBA (Unified) light middleweight title
- WBO light middleweight title
- The Ring magazine titles for light middleweight, middleweight and super middleweight
- WBC middleweight title
- WBA (Super) middleweight title
- IBF middleweight title
- Lineal middleweight title
- WBA (Super) super-middleweight title
- WBC super-middleweight title
- WBO super middleweight title
- IBF super-middleweight title
- WBO light heavyweight
What is Canelo’s Boxing Style?
The Mexican has a mixed style where he primarily looks to counter punch or use smart combination punching. Alvarez does this to create openings for head and body shots. It is not your traditional ‘Mexican Boxing Style’. However, in more recent years his style has developed to cause more calculated pressure on his competitors, especially in his second fight against Golovkin, Danny Jacobs, and Sergey Kovalev.
Canelo is also not the tallest for the weight divisions he fights in, standing at only 5 ft 8. Many fighters would consider this a disadvantage, but Canelo uses this flaw as an advantage. He does this by luring opponents in with high guard defense before using quick head or waist movement to dodge shots and counter punch.
His style is something he has perfected over many years of hard work in the gym, but there are many techniques you can learn from his boxing style. Check out my article on how to train like Canelo here.
Counter Punching and Defense
The counterpunch is one of the things I love about Canelo Alvarez’s skill set. Especially because he is so devastating at it! One of the best punches he uses is a very basic boxing technique that you will learn at any boxing gym you walk into. Slipping the jab and countering with a (powerful) right hand. The Mexican likes to lure his opponent to jab by leaning forward or pawing/feinting his jab to trap them. This can be damaging for any opponent not expecting the counter punch. See below:
I doubt Canelo will have any problems closing the distance or nullifying Fielding’s jab tomorrow night. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he out-jabbed the taller man before breaking him down with body shots. Here’s how he’ll do it … pic.twitter.com/OGXk6SJaap
— Lee Wylie (@leewylieboxing) December 14, 2018
Another technique Canelo likes to use is his head rolls, which is a very high risk for reward tactic, with the great potential of getting caught on the chin. However, Alvarez likes to use this technique as so many boxers use established combinations. Canelo, therefore, trains for specific punch sequences which keeps him one step ahead of his opponent.
In terms of his footwork, Alvarez uses the pivot and waist movement extremely well to get out of his competitor’s reach. He will usually use this technique for double shots thrown at him where he quickly and effectively gets himself out the way – I recommend watching his first bout with Golovkin to see his best footwork in action.
‘Creative’ Combination Punching
The Mexican is also renowned for his highly effective ‘creative’ combination punching which can be breath-taking to watch as a boxing fan! Combination punches are used to break down and find gaps in opponents’ defense, especially when they are in a stationary position.
Alvarez tends to double up with his lead hand, such as hooking to the head and then immediately hooking for the body (liver shot). He also likes to intelligently interchange his shots with different depths to gain influence over his opponent’s guard to create openings. e.g. going from a right uppercut to a left hook to the head, followed up with a left hook to the body. No wonder we call it the sweet science!
Lee Wylie’s video on Canelo’s fight with Angulo below demonstrates how he utilizes these punches to create openings.
As you can tell from all the above, Canelo’s ring IQ is something truly incredible. In his fight against Amir Khan, Alvarez plots a devastating KO over many rounds.
Canelo was up against a much faster fighter. So the Mexican targeted the left side of the body with a right straight or hook to the body. As the rounds progressed, Khan was conditioned and expected the Mexican to continue with this shot. Dropping his guard to block it over time. This led to a devastating finish by Alvarez as he switched to the head. See this is in action below:
In more recent years, Alvarez has lived up to a more ‘Mexican Style’ of Boxing. Ever since his second fight with Golovkin, Canelo has become a first-class operator at applying pressure on his opponent by walking them down.
Despite being a lot smaller (5ft 8). Alvarez has applied this pressure by walking them down with a tight high guard and moving his upper body over his front foot as he creeps forward into attacking range.
He keeps his front foot directed at his opposition as he waits for an opening, usually by throwing a left hook to the body or head. This pressure creates much panic and also forces the opponent to rush their work to get out of position to stop Canelo from setting up his shots.
I recommend watching the example below to see his 11th-round KO over Kovalev to see how Canelo’s pressure helped him win spectacularly!
Although Canelo creates mixed opinions in boxing circles for his actions (myself included). He is a boxer I would recommend anyone to watch and learn from. There are so many tricks you can learn from Canelo, including his counter and combination punching techniques which are probably up there with the top 5 in the world. In more recent years his intelligent pressure fighting is something all fighters can learn from.
Hope you enjoyed this post and make sure to let me know if there are any more boxing styles you would like me to feature in the comments below.
Watch my Canelo vs Bivol tactical footage below.
Thanks for reading!
Lee Wylie: https://www.youtube.com/user/LeeWylie1
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