Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is the future. At least, according to Golden Boy Oscar de la Hoya, who extolled the 24 year-old’s amazing performance in Houston, Texas last Saturday in a post-fight press conference.

After last week’s uneventful “fight of the century” between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, three rounds were enough for Canelo to weather a tough storm and deliver a devastating knock out to a very aggressive James Kirkland. It was a match that gave hope – actually, more like CPR – to boxing fans around the world.

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Boxing has found itself in a state of transition of late, as its biggest stars – Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto – approach the end of their careers, with no clear successor to step up and carry the torch. Of course, there are plenty of great fighters out there, but to be the type of superstar who can draw more than the hardcore fans, fighters need more than a good set of skills in the ring. Boxing icons like Ali, Leonard, Tyson, Mayweather, Pacquiao, Chavez and Cotto – to name just a few – had a special alloy of qualities to complement the power of their fists; these fighters were charismatic masters of spectacle, the were patriotic, flamboyant, good-looking, and superb athletes.

Canelo Alvarez v James Kirkland

I definitely see Canelo as one of the front-runners to fill these gloves and run boxing for the next ten years. He’s got a lot going for him, starting with the advice and support of Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions. At only 24 years-old, Canelo is already a veteran, with 47 professional prize fights under his belt. Add to this his unique look – red hair and freckles – and his strong Mexican fan base, and he noticeably stands out. While he still needs to learn a bit more in the ring, especially in the defense and movement department, Canelo can definitely pack a punch and make for very exciting fan-friendly fights.

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To cement his status as the next big boxing star, Canelo also needs a big “W” on his record against top-quality opposition – and all roads point to Puerto Rican super star Miguel Cotto. If the powers that be are able to put this amazing fight together, Canelo will be well on his way.

And in case you were rightfully worried about the future of boxing, here’s a short list of very exciting fighters that should be on the radar of all hardcore boxing fans, but may not be familiar yet to casual fans. These fighters – a few of them World Champions already – are on their way to the very top and limelight of the sport. In no particular order, they include: Keith Thurman, Gennady Golovkin, Roman Gonzalez, Adrien Bronner, Sergey Kovalev, Felix Verdejo, Terence Crawford, Omar Figueroa, Oscar Valdez, Joseph Diaz Jr, Juan Francisco Estrada, Chon Zepeda, Nicholas Walters and Vasyl Lomachenko.

Canelo Alvarez v James Kirkland

So, after a long week following the May-Pac disappointment of the century, I’m certainly happy that Canelo has given us boxing fans a lot of hope in the sport. Can’t wait to see him come back in September, hopefully against Miguel Angel Cotto.