MEXICO -- They say faith can move mountains, but in the case of Canelo Alvarez, it hasn't been faith that has moved them as much as a fervent desire to be one of best in Mexican boxing. This desire has carried him to heights some thought were impossible. In fact, at only 28 years of age, some are already calling him one of the 10 best Mexican boxers in history.
With only a few days until his return to the ring at legendary Madison Square Garden in New York against British boxer Rocky Fielding, Alvarez was asked about his place in Mexican boxing history. With measured restraint, he said it isn't up to him to say.
"I'm not going to say where I stand in the history of Mexican boxing. I have not finished my career, and when I do, it will be the people who are responsible for that saying that," Canelo said.
For his coach, Jose "Chepo" Reynoso, Alvarez has had key triumphs that guarantee him a place in the elite, without clearly indicating a position in the ranking.
Who can speak on the subject are those who currently occupy a place in the royalty of Mexican professional boxing. For some, Canelo (50-1-2, 34 KOs) already has the merits to be in the top 10. For others, he does not yet have them, and there are those who consider it unfair to catalog him when he is at the peak of his career.
"It's too soon. He's young, strong, very strong, but he lacks a bit of technique. But there he goes. The good thing is that he's young and he wants to [be]," said former world champion and Hall of Famer Ruben "Puas" Olivares, considered among the greatest of all time in Mexico.
"I think we're going to see the best of him," Olivares added. "Every time he gets in the ring he has to show those new things to the fans, fighting against good opponents and showing what he learns in the gym every time. Right now he's the best, but we need to see more of him, up in the ring, with stronger opponents. With time we will know."
Like Olivares, future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez said he believes Canelo has not yet managed to place himself in the top 10, though he can earn that privileged spot with consistency.
"He needs victories against fighters listed among the best pound-for-pound, like Gennady Golovkin. It's important, but you have to be consistent against opponents at that level, like Golovkin," said Marquez, a former world champion.
"It was a very important victory but not to be among the 10 best [Mexican boxers]. I feel that more things are coming for him. He has to face the best opponents, the most difficult, because that will set the tone for us to know if we consider him among the best in Mexico."
For Erik Morales, another Hall of Famer from Mexico, Canelo is not yet in the top 10, but that does not mean he cannot eventually be there. "El Terrible" has his own list, and Canelo is not currently on it. Morales, without including himself, said the list includes Julio Cesar Chavez, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ruben Olivares, Ricardo "Finito" Lopez, Carlos Zarate, Humberto "Chiquita" Gonzalez, Daniel Zaragoza, Vicente Saldivar and Rafael Herrera.
"The decision should be made at the end of his career. We should wait and not create pressure on himself. Whether he is there or not, he does what he does very well. Go up in the ring, train hard, fight, but it's not time [to rank him]," said the four division champion from Tijuana. "We all have or had our time. He is playing the boxing revolution with social networks. Everything is changing, so we are going to talk about his career when he's done, not now."
If there is something that has also characterized the career of Alvarez, it's not only the big fights in the big arenas or giant box office and pay-per-view records, but also the fact that he is as polarizing as few have been in the history of Mexican boxing. And with that in mind, there are those who believe that he is already in the top 10.
"The truth is that he and his team have been very careful. I think he has already done enough [to be among the 10 best]. We should see what other challenges they face. He has already beaten the best [Gennady Golovkin] and therefore I find it difficult to get other interesting challenges. In addition, there is no Mexican to shade him, he is at the highest level and many of us would've like to win some of the purses he's fighting for. The truth is that he has filled all those expectations -- and good for him, he deserves it," said Lupe Pintor, who this year was exalted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Under the same tenor, Carlos Zarate considered that Canelo is already among the 10 best, but also believes he can still move up on the list.
"For me he is already among the 10; now we must see how far he goes. Currently, he is in the Mexican top 10, but a fighter must prove it [for a long period]. [After that] we will decide all together," said the Iztacalco knocker.
"And to be even better positioned, he needs a lot more. So far there has been criticism about his boxing. I don't say it, we all think we know about boxing, so let's wait a little longer for all the people to think that he could. So far so good. I appreciate [his fighting] and I admire him because in spite of being in a lot of fights when he earned a lot of money, Canelo continues working hard. I admire him for that. It is very difficult to hold on to fame," Zarate said.
Finally, former welterweight world champion, Pipino Cuevas, asked not to go ahead or put labels on someone who's still in full swing.
"It's going very well [for him]. I feel that he needs more fights [to be considered in the top 10], but he's just starting this part of his career," Cuevas said. "It's going very well. He has to keep on facing top opponents, clean up the division. I saw him look very well against Gennady Golovkin, I hope he continues on that path and then he may end among the top 10."
The truth is that Canelo has had important victories in his career. Having faced and defeated fighters like Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin and other champions, may not place him in the top 10, but those fights will surely have prepared the ground already to see if the Jalisco idol has the talent to be on that select group and fulfill that dream that has him working day and night in the gym, to become one of Mexico's best.