How Saul Alvarez Needs to Improve to Become an Elite Fighter

Justin Tate@justindavidtateCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2013

How Saul Alvarez Needs to Improve to Become an Elite Fighter

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    Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto are two money-makers within reach as Mexico's most popular son, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, improves his game.

    On April 20, Alvarez heads to the famous Alamodome in San Antonio, TX to face the stiffest challenge of his career in undefeated WBA junior middleweight champ Austin Trout, a slick American from El Paso.

    The fight will be the first of a small series of steps Alvarez must take to stake his claim as an elite warrior. 

Dominate Trout in Their April Showdown

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    Trout is seen by some analysts and bloggers, such as Dan Ambrose of Boxing News 24, as the man "Alvarez will never beat."

    This is mostly due to Alvarez's list of vanquished competition consisting of mostly opponents from smaller weight divisions or faded veterans, such as Ryan Rhodes or the legendary Shane Mosley.

    Though it will be a very tough matchup, if Alvarez can dedicate his attack to the body of Trout from the very beginning and make it a dogfight on the inside, he could end the meeting impressively in the closing rounds.

Face His Mandatory Challenger Erislandy Lara

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    Erislandy Lara is the mandatory challenger to Alvarez's WBC belt. After being allowed to skip past mandatory challengers, the WBC told Boxing Scene it may order the champion to face Lara. 

    If Alvarez is to become an elite champion at his weight class, facing his mandatory challenger—no matter how dangerous his left hand or quick his speed—will be of the utmost importance.

    Alvarez is dangerous with his speed and power, but can be pressured into becoming hesitant to attack. If Alvarez adapts enough to smartly apply pressure over 12 rounds, he could pull off the decision victory.

Defeat a Relevant Star Like Miguel Cotto

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    Alvarez has been targeting Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather since at least last year, when he told Boxing Scene (via ABS-CBN News) that he wanted either of the two future Hall of Famers.

    While Cotto is coming off two losses and likely ripe for the picking, Alvarez has a lot of work to do before Mayweather will accept a fight with him.

    Beating a big name that's still relevant such as Cotto will go a long way toward giving Alvarez the household popularity boost needed to make a fight with Mayweather lucrative enough to get made.

    When Alvarez defeated Shane Mosley last year, he defeated a foe who was going three years without an official win under his belt. Cotto, for all intents and purposes, is still a capable fighter.

    Cotto hasn't suffered an embarrassing loss yet as both his previous two losing efforts saw him give a good account of himself.

    If Alvarez continues to go out of his way to test himself as a true warrior by facing the best in Trout or Lara, he will have certainly earned the right to have a pay-per-view bout vs. a boxing star like Cotto.