5 Fighters We'd Rather See Canelo Alvarez Take on Than Miguel Cotto

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2012

5 Fighters We'd Rather See Canelo Alvarez Take on Than Miguel Cotto

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    Saul "Canelo" Alvarez can't seem to catch a break. Several high-profile fights fell through for the emerging Mexican star in 2012 and forced him to take on less-than-stellar opposition.

    First Paul Williams tragically saw his career end in a motorcycle accident. Then James Kirkland didn't like the financial terms of the fight. Next Victor Ortiz had his jaw broken by Josesito Lopez, who, despite being drastically undersized, flipped the win into his own fight with Alvarez. Lastly Miguel Cotto was dominated and defeated by Austin Trout in one of the upsets of the year.

    It's almost as if being associated with Alvarez has become a curse for both him and his potential opponents. 

    Despite the near-shutout loss, Miguel Cotto has still been prominently mentioned as an opponent for Alvarez in the spring. 

    Short of Floyd Mayweather, this is certainly the biggest money fight but not the most significant or even challenging. 

    The following five opponents may not be as sexy or have the name recognition of Cotto, but they are both better fights and bigger challenges.

Austin Trout

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    WBA Super Welterweight Champion Austin Trout came into Madison Square Garden on Dec. 1 as just the latest man to have the crazy hope of beating Miguel Cotto in his backyard.

    Just 12 rounds and a pretty decent beating later, he emerged as one of the sport's rising stars, leaving his foe battered, bloody and bruised. 

    It was a virtuoso performance and one that you'd think would lead him to a unification bout next year with reigning WBC 154-pound champion Saul Alvarez.

    Two young champions, both in their primes, both looking to emerge as a true stars, both undefeated. No-brainer, right?

    Not quite. Despite the win, Austin Trout is still having a hard time securing fights. His style is tricky, and provides too little reward for too high risk in the eyes of many promoters. Hence Canelo Alvarez is seeking a fight with the man Trout beat, Miguel Cotto, rather than this fight. 

    And that's part of what's wrong with boxing.

Erislandy Lara

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    Erislandy Lara has been seeking out Canelo Alvarez seemingly since the kid was in diapers. 

    The tricky Cuban southpaw is perhaps still best known for his highly controversial, and this is being generous, decision loss to Paul Williams in 2011. It was a fight that virtually everyone, with the exception of three incompetent judges, felt Lara won easily.

    Since then he has stopped Ronald Hearns, son of the legendary Hitman, in the first round and won a tough decision over Freddy Hernandez.

    In his most recent fight he fought to an ugly, foul-filled, technical draw against fellow potential Alvarez foe Vanes Martirosyan in a match that would've established a mandatory challenger. 

    Lara is tricky and more importantly he's a real junior middleweight, something Canelo has yet to face.

Vanes Martirosyan

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    Vanes Martirosyan would solve Canelo's lack of a legitimate junior middleweight problem quite nicely, just as Lara would.

    The 26-year-old Armenian-American from California is tough, rugged and difficult to fight. In his most recent fight, against Lara, he fought to a technical draw after an accidental head-butt opened a bad cut over his eye in the ninth round. 

    While the "Nightmare" isn't known for devastating one-punch power, he has the tools to really push Alvarez and does have good, if not great power, in both hands.

    And like Lara, people have been mentioning him as a threat to Alvarez for years. 

Keith Thurman

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    Allow me to be right up front on this one: This is a pipe-dream fight.

    Thurman is considered by many to be the top prospect in all of boxing, just moved up to junior middleweight and would never be matched with Alvarez at this stage.

    But just imagine if it were to happen? 

    Thurman has absolutely devastating power. And that's something Alvarez has never faced. 

    Thurman, on the other hand, has never been in there with a fighter who can box and punch like Canelo.

    This would be an absolute barnburner of a fight. But because both guys are young—Thurman is 24 and Alvarez is 22—undefeated and considered hot prospects, it will never happen.

    Or at least not yet. But it's definitely something to hope for down the line.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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    It would be stunning, absolutely stunning, if this fight doesn't come off sometime next year. There is simply too much money to be made for this one to go down the proverbial drain,

    Floyd Mayweather has announced plans to fight two times next year, the first time he's done so since 2007, and chose Mexican holiday weekends for both bouts.

    That lines up Mexican fighters Robert Guerrero and Canelo Alvarez, for likely shots at toppling the pound-for-pound king.

    Whether Alvarez is ready or not at this stage for a fighter of Mayweather's caliber remains to be seen. But this would be a huge fight for the sport, would likely generate record PPV revenue and give boxing great mainstream press.

    It's a win-win even if Alvarez is out of his depth.