LAS VEGAS -- The faded champion getting served up to the young lion is a cruel tradition as old as boxing itself.
Rocky Marciano wept openly after flattening boyhood idol Joe Louis. Same for Larry Holmes after concussing former mentor Muhammad Ali further down the CTE rabbit hole.
The unforgiving, necessarily evil cycle perpetuated itself Saturday night, as Saul "Canelo" Alvarez defended his WBC super welterweight title with a lopsided unanimous-decision victory over Shane Mosley in the co-feature bout of the Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto undercard. Two ringside judges scored it 119-109 to Alvarez, while the other had it 118-110. (SI.com scored it 118-110.)
"This is the beginning of my career," Alvarez said afterward through a translator. "Thank you to Mosley for giving me this experience."
The 22-year-old Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs) is boxing's youngest world champion -- the only active titleholder to be born in the 1990s -- a superstar-in-waiting that's been carefully groomed by Golden Boy Promotions as the sport's next great Mexican attraction. He's already developed a rock-star-like following in Mexico, where he's sold out arenas and earned impressive ratings on Televisa, but Saturday's fight was intended as his American coming-out party before an MGM Grand Garden Arena crowd bubbling with Cinco de Mayo fervor.
Few gave the 40-year-old Mosley much of a shot against Alvarez, not least because of the 18 years, 10 months and 11 days that separated them -- the fourth-biggest age difference in a world title bout in boxing history, according to HBO's researchers.
But they say power is the last thing to go. And the considerable odds against Mosley, which opened at 6-to-1 last month, had shortened to 4-to-1 by the time the fighters made their way to the ring. The trend suggested uncommonly heavy action on Mosley, given the presumably big money on Alvarez with so many Mexican flags dotting the audience.
The reality beyond the romance was Mosley (46-8-1, 39 KOs) hadn't won since a 2009 upset of Antonio Margarito, with lopsided losses to Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao sandwiched by a listless draw to Sergio Mora in the interim. Yes, every champion
Mosley scored early on with the jab, even walking down Alvarez as the fighters felt one another out. He drew cheers with a four-punch body combination, winning the round on two of the three judges' cards, yet it was Canelo who looked more dangerous -- the fearsome predator measuring for his moment to strike.
Alvarez came alive in the second, showing off his formidable hand speed and scoring with a series of thudding lefts upstairs. By the third, Mosley's head movement was minimal and his elbows had drifted far apart, leaving him wide open for Alvarez's pinpoint jab. A clash of heads opened a cut over Alvarez's left eye -- reportedly the first of his career -- yet he finished the round strong, with blood pouring down his chest and staining the yellow-and-white beltline on his Corona-branded trunks.
Mosley was still in the fight, but his punches didn't have much pop. As chants of
Already down on the scorecards, Mosley attempted to pick up the pace and put some punches together, but Alvarez fired back with shrewd counters and left the veteran grasping at air. As the champion began to find range with his power punches, he made Mosley look tentative and, well, like a 40-year-old.
The central drama as the second half of the fight began was not if Alvarez would prevail, but whether he could become the first fighter to stop Mosley inside the distance. He would try, setting traps and baiting Mosley when he wasn't unloading a fusillade of punches that would have felled countless other fighters. Yet the tiring Mosley's granite jaw withstood Alvarez's best -- although several at ringside believed his trainer Naazim Richardson should have thrown in the towel -- and he'd make it to the finish line in what many observers can only assume will be his final top-flight opportunity.
Now just 8-8-1 since opening his career at 38-0, the clamor for Sugar Shane's retirement will surely begin in earnest.
Mosley, who made $650,000 for Saturday's bout, held titles at lightweight, welterweight and junior middleweight, rising to the mythical
"I think he can go a long ways," said a dejected Mosley, who connected on just 183 of 785 punches (25 percent) compared to 348 of 673 (52 percent) for Canelo. "I made sure he was worthy of being one of the next kings of the ring. I got beat by a better man tonight."
Now the focus turns to Alvarez, who turned pro in 2005 when he was just 15 years old, and who could be in line for a unification bout with Mayweather in the not-too-distant future.
"When I was coming up in boxing, I used to watch a lot of videos to pick up stuff from him, to learn from him," said Alvarez, who earned $1.2 million, during the build-up to Saturday's fight. "To now be fighting him is a dream come true."
Mosley tried his best to play spoiler, yet Father Time remained undefeated Saturday despite his best efforts. Canelo's day is here. In fact, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer was pleased to announce Alvarez will headline his first pay-per-view card on Sept. 15 at the MGM Grand against an opponent that will be finalized over the next two weeks.
The outlook for Mosley, a no-show to the post-fight press conference, is far less certain.
When asked point blank whether he should retire, De La Hoya paused for at least 10 seconds -- the faintest grin acknowledging the promoter's compromising position -- before settling on a reponse. "It's up to him," he said.
Schaefer was more direct, emphasizing that Mosley's contract for Saturday's fight was a one-off with no future obligations from the company.
"It's a one-shot deal," he said, speaking away from the microphone on the dais. "I don't know what he's going to do."