Earlier this year, it looked like Saul "Canelo" Alvarez was in line for a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. (via Pacquiao's website).
The fight would have clearly been the biggest of Alvarez's career and it's one that many boxing aficionados would have welcomed because Alvarez, 22, is a surging fighter brimming with ability.
That fight never came about as Mayweather stepped into the ring with Miguel Cotto and pounded out a unanimous but less-than-impressive 12-round decision in a May 5 bout in Las Vegas.
While a fight between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is the one that all sports fans—not just boxing fans—would take note of, that fight may never come about.
If it was going to happen, it likely would have happened already.
But both Mayweather and Pacquiao are still fighting and still need opponents.
A bout between Alvarez and Mayweather would still be high on the list of great bouts for boxing fans.
Alvarez, like Mayweather, is an undefeated fighter. He is the WBC Light Middleweight champion and his 41-0-1 record is notable.
Alvarez's ability and class are more important than his won-loss record. In his last fight with Josesito Lopez in September, Alvarez was expected to overpower Lopez due to his advantages in strength and his ability to throw punishing combinations.
The fight worked out exactly in that manner as Alvarez registered a fifth-round technical knockout.
Alvarez has power in both hands, recognizes openings and attacks them quickly. He is earning his boxing reputation by going out and proving himself on an every-bout basis.
Mayweather (43-0-0) likes to think he can outclass and outbox anyone who gets in the ring with him. He has done so throughout his career, but he will also try to let his reputation intimidate his opponents. He was not at his best against Victor Ortiz in 2011 until he registered his controversial fourth-round knockout (source: Los Angeles Times).
If he came with anything less than his best effort—and that may not be easy for Money at the age of 35—the hard-hitting Alvarez would be a major challenge.
Alvarez would be a clear underdog in this bout. Fighting Mayweather would obviously be the biggest challenge of his career, but it is one that he needs to pursue. As good as Alvarez has looked in most of his fights, it seems like most of his opponents have been hand-picked. He has rarely been challenged by fighters of his own status and that may have allowed him to bulk up his record (source: BoxingInsider.com).
If Alvarez cannot get a fight with Mayweather, he would be well-served by fighting James Kirkland or Carlos Molina. Both of those fighters would be recognized as a step up over Lopez, Ryan Rhodes, Alfonso Gomez, Kermit Cintron and Shane Mosley. These were Alvarez's most recent opponents and none of them pushed him hard.
Mayweather's biggest issue in a fight with Alvarez would be respecting his opponent. He tends not to do that, figuring that none of his opponents have the class and ability to stay with him. That kind of attitude would put him in a vulnerable position against Alvarez.
Alvarez is a hard puncher, but he also moves around the ring well and has good boxing skills.
Mayweather knows enough not to trade punches with a heavy hitter in the early going. He is too strong a defensive and instinctive fighter to ever do that. He would break down Alvarez's boxing skills and then drain his strength by making him miss.
This is not a fight that would capture headlines like a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight would. However, it is one that could capture the public once it realizes how much Alvarez has to offer.
It would be a great fight for Alvarez and the sport of boxing. However, Mayweather is in control and he's the one who has to decide if he wants it to happen.