Saul Alvarez vs Austin Trout: The Future of Boxing Starts Now

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2013

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 15:  (L-R) Canelo Alvarez throws a left at the head of Josesito Lopez during their WBC super  welterweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 15, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images)
Josh Hedges/Getty Images

There are those moments as boxing fans when we realize we are watching the future arrive. Sometime's it's a classic changing-of-the-guard moment, where the young superstar and the old lion share center stage for one last performance. Those kind of fights are enjoyable in the build up and sometimes deliver in the ring.

But it's a more sure thing that we will be rewarded when it's two young champions, both rising stars entering or still fresh into their prime. And that is what we are getting on Saturday, April 20, as two of boxing's brightest 20-somethings square off: Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs Austin Trout, 12 rounds to unify the WBA and WBC junior middleweight belts.

The businessmen who are responsible for orchestrating the grand stage on which these sort of affairs take place would prefer it had been otherwise. They would rather be giving us Canelo Alvarez, the wildly popular 22-year-old Mexican star, versus the Puerto Rican legend, Miguel Cotto.

Heck, there were rumors going around last January that they were still going to give us that fight, even after Austin Trout rolled into New York City last December and handed Cotto a wide-margin unanimous decision defeat.  

But in the end, justice prevailed. Instead of Alvarez-Cotto, which I'll be honest, I would have, in elated state, gone to Yankee Stadium or the Garden to watch, we are getting Alvarez-Trout.

The fight, that it turns out, we actually needed to see after all. 

A lot of the credit for this fight happening needs to go to Austin Trout. After knocking off Cotto, he went on the road and campaigned for Canelo, doing media around the county and keeping his case for a shot against Canelo in the public, being talked about. 

I talked to Trout briefly after a Friday Night Fights card I covered at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York. He came across as a guy with a passion for the sport and a head for the business side.

For a guy who was essentially traveling around, calling out another guy to fight him, he was extremely pleasant and laid back. Even during the press conference, when a fight writer baited him by asking, "Do you think Canelo needs a heart transplant?" Trout answered the question by putting the blame for ducking him on Alvarez's promoter, Golden Boy.

Saul Alvarez, in my opinion, I think he'd fight me. He's a fighter. I know a fighter will fight anybody. So when I say Canelo is ducking me, I mean Papa De La Hoya and Schaeffer are ducking me.

Trout is a likable personality and his popularity with the fans will increase as his success continues. With the combination of athleticism and craft that he displayed against Cotto last December, it is safe to assume that, win-or-lose against Alvarez, the 27-year-old will continue to compete near the top of the junior middle weight division for at least the next couple of years.

If he can prevail against Alvarez, he may be on the fast track to boxing superstardom.

Against Cotto last December he put on a boxing showcase, one that came as something of an awakening to many national boxing fans. Despite his undefeated record and world title, Trout had barely been on the radar of even some pretty serious fans.

But all night long against Cotto he used an exceptional jab and brilliant foot work to outwork and beat up the likely Hall-of-Famer.

Trout controls distance expertly and uses his legs very well. On paper that is the sort of game plan you would need to implement to beat a pressure fighter like Saul Alvarez.

And this fact doesn't necessarily mean anything, but is worth noting: Trout won more rounds against Cotto than Floyd Mayweather did. 

I expect Trout to be the toughest fight Alvarez has had to date. He's over a decade younger than Shane Mosley was when Canelo handed that future Hall-of-Famer a one-sided beat down on the Cotto-Mayweather undercard. 

He's much bigger than gritty Josesito Lopez, who had only fought once above 140 pounds when he faced Alvarez.

And Trout is simply better than Kermit Cintron.

Against Cotto, he expertly executed pretty much the same kind of game plan you would want to implement against Alvarez. 

Still, I don't expect implementing that game plan against Alvarez will be quite so easily done, even by a talent like Trout. Alvarez is a full inch taller than Cotto, and he has a 71-inch reach, four inches more than Cotto's 67, and only a inch shorter than Trout's 72. 

Cotto has been one of the great body punchers of his generations, but Trout was able to take that away from him all night long. The huge reach advantage he enjoyed was a large part of his success here. 

He won't enjoy those same advantages against Alvarez. And I frankly think the 22-year-old Alvarez is going to be a more relentless stalker than the 32-year-old Cotto was able to be. I think he is going to double up on his technically solid jab and look to turn the ring into a phone booth of pain. 

I expect Trout to have some success controlling the distance and keeping Alvarez on the outside, but I also expect infighting, and I expect it to be entertaining and competitive. Even when Cotto did manage to force the fight inside against Trout last December, Trout held his own and tended to get the better of the exchanges.

My own prediction is that Alvarez will be very patient with his body attack all fight long, allowing him to slow down Trout and overtake an early deficit to win by unanimous decision. 

Beyond that I expect a competitive and compelling fight. The winner will almost certainly get Floyd Mayweather in the Fall, so long as Mayweather takes care of business against Robert Guerrero in May.

But both of these two will be around the sport for the next several years. These are two next generation stars, sharing the stage with a peer for the first time.