Does Canelo Alvarez Have What It Takes to Beat Floyd Mayweather?

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2013

Saul Alvarez is not ready for Floyd Mayweather.
Saul Alvarez is not ready for Floyd Mayweather.Josh Hedges/Getty Images

When reigning pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. announced plans to fight twice this year, it became something of a badly kept secret that Saul "Canelo" Alvarez would wind up with one of those bouts.

Both dates locked in for Mayweather are on Mexican holiday weekends, always big showcases for boxing, and it only makes sense from a financial perspective for a Mexican fighter to share the bill.

Alvarez in fact has shared the last three PPV's with Mayweather, leading many to speculate that his presence has been to boost buy numbers by tapping his large Mexican fanbase.

With the two fighters on a seeming collision course for sometime later this year, the question now becomes; does Alvarez have what it takes to be the first man to defeat Money?

Unfortunately for Alvarez and his fans, it's not even a guarantee that he has the stuff to beat the man that could stand in the way of the super fight—WBA junior middleweight champion Austin Trout.

When Trout squared off with Miguel Cotto on Dec. 1 at Madison Square Garden, it was expected that the Puerto Rican star would capture his title and setup a showdown with Canelo in May.

But as often happens in boxing, well-laid plans were blown up, leaving Alvarez once again scrambling for an opponent. 

After nearly a month of ducking and dodging a potential matchup with Trout, and ludicrously still floating the Cotto fight, it appears that Canelo and his people have warmed to the idea of the unification bout.

It would be Canelo's toughest test to date and a win would go a long way to satisfying many of his critics, who have a litany of complaints about the rising star.

Among those are his propensity to face smaller, faded fighters who have a name but are clearly no longer able to live up to what their name once meant. 

Thus while he holds wins over Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintron and Carlos Baldomir—all former world champions—he gets little credit for when he fought them.

Canelo has also yet to face a legitimate fellow junior middleweight.

Guys like Erislandy Lara, Vanos Martirosyan and Trout have been calling him out for some time now, but all the public seems to get are matches with fighters from lower weight classes.

There is absolutely nothing in his record to date that would indicate he is ready for anything near a challenge like Floyd Mayweather Jr.

But it's important to keep perspective. This kid is just 22 years old and is a prospect, not an established star.

And certainly not on the level he'll be thrown into if he faces this challenge.

One of Mayweather's greatest skills, and what makes him one of the best of all-time, is his ability to make elite fighters look ordinary.

Scratch that—he makes elite fighters look silly. 

Give Miguel Cotto all the credit you want. You can call his performance spirited, gutsy or a million other meaningless adjectives. 

Floyd Mayweather beat him in every facet of the game and did it fighting Cotto's style of fight.

And Cotto was a seasoned vet who had been in there with fellow elite fighters. He fought and beat a still-prime Shane Mosley, went to war with Manny Pacquiao and twice with Antonio Margarito. 

To date, all we've seen from Alvarez is a collection of former big names and guys who were woefully undersized. 

Among those who make the argument that Canelo could win this fight, the arguments are pretty simple.

Mayweather has never stepped in there with a fighter as young, big and strong in his career. And while that may certainly be true, I'd point to Diego Corrales as a counter-point; it discounts Alvarez' level of opposition.

It's hard to truly gauge how good a fighter is until he takes on a legitimate challenge. 

Looking physically imposing against Lovemore N'dou and Matthew Hatton isn't the same as doing it against Floyd Mayweather.

Knocking out Alfonso Gomez and Carlos Baldomir doesn't mean you can knock out Floyd Mayweather.

And while Alvarez may possess the physical advantages, he doesn't have near the experience or boxing knowledge of Money.

There are few, if any, fighters in the history of the sport who have been better thinkers inside the ring, who have been able to adapt quite so quickly as Mayweather does on a dime. 

He's forgotten more about the sport than most fighters ever learn.

And even at 36 years old, he's still the best fighter on the planet.

Should Canelo Alvarez get by Austin Trout, or whoever he faces in May, he will find that out later this year.