Saul "Canelo" Alvarez came up short in his quest to hand Floyd "Money" Mayweather the first loss of his illustrious career on Saturday night, but there is no doubt the 23-year-old Mexican has solidified himself as one of boxing's biggest stars.
Even if Alvarez had defeated Mayweather on Saturday, Mayweather was still likely to leave Las Vegas as the sport's biggest draw. A win obviously would have been huge for Alvarez's career, but simply stepping into the ring with Mayweather was beneficial to him as well since he is now a household name.
Alvarez may not generate quite as much money as Mayweather, but he proved capable of holding his own. While the official numbers have yet to be released, Alvarez may have been part of the highest-grossing pay-per-view of all time. Much of that was due to the appeal of Mayweather; however, Canelo definitely played a role in his own right.
According to Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes, Mayweather and Alvarez took aim at the record of 2.5 million pay-per-view buys, which was originally set by Mayweather and Alvarez's promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, back in 2007.
Even if it is determined that the fight fell short of 2.5 million buys, it is very possible that it surpassed the record of $132 million in revenue since pay-per-views are more expensive now than they were six years ago due to the emergence of high definition television.
Whatever the case, Mayweather vs. Alvarez will go down as a megafight during an era in which such bouts are few and far between. There is a definitive lack of star power in boxing right now with the exception of Mayweather, but it has to be said that Canelo is approaching Mayweather's popularity based on the interest that Alvarez generated for the fight.
A big reason for that is the fact that Alvarez appeals to a different demographic than Mayweather as he is becoming a Latino icon. The support for Alvarez from the Latino community leading up to his fight with Mayweather was absolutely immense, and there is little doubt that they are going to stand behind their guy moving forward.
It has been a while since someone other than Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao garnered mainstream attention from a boxing standpoint, but Alvarez has seemingly entered that upper echelon. Assuming his next fight isn't a rematch against Mayweather, it isn't going to do nearly as well in terms of pay-per-view buys.
Alvarez's name recognition, however, is now a big enough deal for him to headline events on his own without the aid of a guy like Mayweather.
Mayweather generally doesn't elevate other boxers to star status after he beats them, but that is likely due to the fact that he often faces fellow veterans. Alvarez has a ton of experience for a guy his age, but he is still very much a rising star. Boxing fans got a taste of his huge potential on Saturday, and it's clear that the best is yet to come.
Alvarez was heralded as the future of boxing heading into his fight with Mayweather, and while a win would have allowed him to reach the pinnacle of the sport immediately, it's clear that he isn't very far off. Somebody has to take the torch and run with it when the likes of Mayweather and Pacquiao decide to retire, and Alvarez proved on Saturday night that he is capable of doing so.
Even if Alvarez lost a certain amount of mystique now that Mayweather has blemished his undefeated record, he gained big-fight experience. Alvarez should be able to learn a lot from his encounter with Mayweather, and he'll be even better prepared to perform on the big stage the next time he is called upon.
If Saturday's outing is any indication, Canelo's fights will surely be must-see events moving forward, and that is the true hallmark of a superstar in the sport of boxing.
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