April has been a strong month for the sport of boxing. On Saturday night, the month will get even better.
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (41-0, 30 KO) will seek to unify two of the light middleweight championships as he stakes his WBC title against WBA Super champion Austin Trout (26-0, 14 KO).
When two young undefeated champions clash, it gets the attention of those who love the sport. This is a five-star fight in every sense of the term.
Alvarez has mowed down all comers with relative ease in his career. Despite being just 22 years old, he has already had 41 professional fights. In his most recent bout, he manhandled Josesito Lopez.
Canelo stopped his game, but overmatched, opponent in the fifth round.
Trout's rise to this event has not been as celebrated. He has just recently started to receive the attention most would pay an undefeated young champion.
The 27-year-old out-boxed Miguel Cotto in his last fight to score an easy unanimous decision victory.
That win represented a significant step up in competition and the biggest victory of his career. It has vaulted him into this opportunity to prove he is among the best fighters in the world.
On Saturday night, someone's "0" must go. Here's how you can catch the action and some deeper analysis into this matchup:
When: Saturday, April 20, at 10 p.m. ET
Where: Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas
The Book on Alvarez
Will a Win Eliminate All Doubts about Alvarez's Place amongst Elite Fighters?
Alvarez has a huge following, a sparkling record and undeniable charisma. But he still hasn't really fought anyone that validates him as being one of the top five fighters in the world.
Lopez has the heart of a heavyweight, but in reality, he was a bloated welterweight or light welterweight rising to meet a challenge and a major payday against Alvarez.
Take a look at the highlights of that bout:
Before that win, Alvarez beat up a 40-year-old Shane Mosley about five-to-seven years past his prime.
Canelo isn't ducking opponents. Many of the major names don't seem to be lining up to face him. It's not his fault, but his relatively weak list of opposition is a reality.
As much as I respect Trout, defeating him still won't give Alvarez all the credit he may very well deserve. In fact, he has far more to lose in this fight than Trout does.
From a notoriety standpoint, he dwarfs his opponent.
If he loses, many of his critics will say: This proves their suspicions. If he wins, they will say: It was a decent win, but who is Austin Trout anyway?
Unfortunately for Canelo, this is a fight he must win, but he won't get full respect until he moves up to middleweight and captures a title or entices one of the bigger names to come to him at 154 pounds.
In the Ring
Strengths - Power, Accuracy and Composure
Weaknesses - Slow Starter, Untested, Robotic
Alvarez is a powerful puncher with great offensive weapons. He has always appeared a bit stiff to me, though. His emotionless demeanor is similar to his robotic fighting style.
He's so strong and technical, and he hasn't been exposed up to this point.
But his lack of movement makes me wonder what will happen when he faces an opponent he has trouble finding with his power shots.
The Book on Trout
Trout Would Force the World to Take Notice with a Win over Canelo
I doubted Trout in his last fight against Cotto. I picked the more powerful and experienced fighter to best the younger, more cerebral Trout.
I was wrong.
I underestimated the toughness Trout possessed and his underrated boxing ability. If he is able to pull a second straight upset over a more highly-regarded fighter, he will force his way into the pound-for-pound discussion.
Much like Canelo, a win may still cause critics to doubt his opposition, thus discrediting his victory, but it wouldn't be to the same extent.
Canelo is more established than Trout, thus the latter has an immense opportunity ahead of him. Beating Cotto in Madison Square Garden in front of tens of thousands admiring Cotto fans was huge.
But facing Canelo at the Alamodome could take the home-field advantage factor to another level. The fact that he will again be facing—and potentially defeating—another opponent in a hostile environment only makes him look better.
In the Ring
Strengths - Length, Punching Accuracy, Intelligence
Weaknesses - Not a Big Puncher, Carelessness
Trout proved he is physically stronger than many have given him credit for against Cotto.
Against the legendary Puerto Rican, he not only handled his opponent from a distance—which was expected—but he also proved that in close quarters, he couldn't be bullied.
Who will win this fight and how?
Even with that strength, he isn't a huge puncher. At times, he can get impatient and lose sight of his defense in an effort to push the action. Because he doesn't have elite pop, that can get him into trouble at times.
He's a tactical, thinking fighter who must stick to his game plan to be successful.
Trout proved me wrong in his last fight and I took notice. I'm taking him to upset Canelo on Saturday night. Alvarez has a little more than a puncher's chance, but his power could be the great equalizer.
Still, I see his lack of mobility and periodic lack of aggressiveness as a perfect setup for Trout to build up a lead. He will earn a unanimous decision victory.
We'll see what the scorecards officially say, but as far as in-ring action, that is what I expect to see.
Follow me because I love boxing, and you do too.