Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez: What's Next After Win over Austin Trout?
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For months all the talk from Saul "Canelo" Alvarez's detractors focused on one of two criticisms—he hadn't beaten a legitimate junior middleweight, and most of his big name opponents were past their primes.
He answered both of those questions in one fell swoop by winning a unanimous, if closer than the official cards indicated, decision over former WBA champion Austin Trout Saturday night in San Antonio.
Trout entered the fight undefeated and coming off a big victory over Miguel Cotto last December. His tricky, southpaw style and boxing intelligence were expected to give Canelo trouble. But in the end power was the difference as Alvarez's punches landed with more snap and influenced the judges.
So where does Alvarez, 22, go from here?
He was already considered the sport's best prospect heading into the fight, has a massive and growing Mexican fanbase and has become the de facto fighting face of Golden Boy Promotions.
With the win the sky is the limit, and chatter will only grow about a potential September superfight with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather should Money get by Robert Guerrero on May 4.
And that's the likely direction that Golden Boy will direct their new golden boy given his victory over Austin Trout.
It's the biggest fight out there in terms of mass appeal, the PPV numbers would be astronomical and is by far the biggest money fight available for both guys.
The question now turns to whether or not Alvarez is ready for that type of fight at this stage in his career.
Against Trout he spent long stretches of the fight inactive, loading up for one shot while eating a steady diet of jabs from his opponent. When he connected with a big punch, he scored, but that type of style won't work against a fighter with the speed, defense and intellect of Floyd Mayweather.
More troubling was the fact that Alvarez appeared to tire as the fight went along. His head movement was better than we've seen in his recent fights, but too often he kept his hands low and allowed the pace to be dictated to him.
There were a few rounds where he looked disinterested in the fight, either resting or waiting for openings.
That works when you're in Texas as the home fighter, and despite the unusually wide scorecards and the noticeable improvements, this was a fight that could've been scored either way. According to CompuBox statistics, by the end of the fight Alvarez had been out-thrown and out-landed by Trout, both by considerable margins.
And no disrespect intended to Austin Trout, who is a helluva fighter and a true class act both in and outside of the ring, but he isn't Floyd Mayweather.
Canelo will need to make drastic improvements in order to compete at that level.
But make no mistake about it. Last night was a huge step in that process. And both Canelo and Golden Boy will do everything in their power to ensure that the next time their prodigy steps into a boxing ring, it will be against Mayweather.
In the past Floyd has been circumspect about the prospect of facing Alvarez, and the continued growth of the Mexican fighter's star power could make negotiations tricky.
Mayweather is notorious for being a tricky negotiator, and despite Canelo's huge popularity and growing fanbase, he could find himself getting the short end of the stick. A lot will depend on how much they're willing to bend in order to make the fight happen.
It will also depend on whether Mayweather, who just recently signed a massive six-fight deal with Showtime, decides he wants the second fight of that deal to be against a fighter who presents the level of risk he'd find in Alvarez.
And for that matter, if he's able to get by the rugged Robert Guerrero. who poses unique stylistic troubles of his own.
If not Mayweather there doesn't appear to be a ton of very attractive options available. A rematch with Trout, despite the competitive nature of the fight, appears extremely unlikely.
Golden Boy was never thrilled with this fight and likely won't be salivating for a second go around.
Erislandy Lara and Vanes Martirosyan are both challenging fights at 154 pounds, but Alvarez and his team have shown little interest in facing either man in the past. And that was before he reached this level.
Ishe Smith, who recently captured the IBF junior middleweight title, holds little marketability or attractiveness as a potential opponent either, and neither does the man he took the strap from Cornelius "K9" Bundrage.
Miguel Cotto would be attractive if not for the fact that he has lost his last two fights, including the dominant decision defeat against Trout.
So for now that leaves Alvarez with one option. And it's high risk but massive reward.
Everything possible will be done to make Mayweather vs. Canelo a reality for the fall. Money talks, and there's too much of it to go around for this not to happen.
But then again, they also said that about Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. And we all know how that ended.
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