Canelo Alvarez's Next Fight: Top Contenders for Next Opponent

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2014

Canelo Alvarez's Next Fight: Top Contenders for Next Opponent

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Twenty-eight minutes later, and "Canelo" is a commodity once again.

    Twenty-three-year-old redhead Saul Alvarez returned from a six-month ring hiatus on Saturday night to defeat rugged Mexican countryman Alfredo Angulo via 10th-round TKO atop a Showtime pay-per-view broadcast from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.  

    It was Alvarez's first appearance since a one-sided decision loss to pound-for-pound kingpin Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the same venue last September, an event which cost the youngster his undefeated record and his WBC title belt at 154 pounds—but solidified him as an attraction after the bout generated 2.2 million PPV buys and a gross revenue of $150 million.

    Getting back on the winning track was good for both the Alvarez psyche and the "Canelo" marketing machine, which will no doubt return to high gear now that its namesake has moved past the lone in-ring blemish. Showtime boxing executive Stephen Espinoza, in fact, said during fight week that "(Alvarez's) star power continues to grow and he has a long, long career ahead of him."

    The next step in the process will be important toward maintaining the momentum, and we took a look at the five most likely candidates to appear opposite the leading man the next time he returns.

    Click through to see our thoughts and feel free to use the comments section to suggest your own.

5. Jermall Charlo (or Carlos Molina)

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    Paul Beaty/Associated Press

    Reasons it could happen:

    Oddsmakers anticipated that the Alvarez-Angulo undercard would be a crowning moment for unbeaten Texan Jermall Charlo, who'd been scheduled to meet IBF junior middleweight champ Carlos Molina, until that fight was scrapped by Molina's lingering legal concerns.

    But even though the match didn't come off Saturday, its winner still seems a worthwhile proposition for Team Canelo going forward. Both Charlo and Molina are fellow clients of Golden Boy Promotions, and whoever emerges as champion would make sense as a target for the ex-champ to rejoin the belted fraternity.

    Odds it will happen:


4. Demetrius Andrade

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Reasons it could happen:

    If big talk was all that was necessary to secure a date with Alvarez, ex-U.S. Olympian Demetrius Andrade would certainly be the next in line. The 26-year-old picked up the IBF's vacant championship at 154 pounds in November against Vanes Martirosyan and claimed to The Ring magazine heading into that scrap that he wouldn't view Alvarez as much of a concern if they met.

    "I would stop him," the 6'1" southpaw suggested to writer Lem Satterfield. "I would walk his little ass down."

    The fight makes sense for the same reasons the Charlo-Molina winner made sense: It would give "Canelo" a chance at regaining a title. Additionally, as a former Olympian who's unafraid to speak his mind, Andrade would enter with some more publicity generating street cred, which could tip the decision needle in his direction.

    Odds it will happen:


3. James Kirkland

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    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Reasons it could happen:

    James Kirkland came close to being one of Alvarez's pre-Mayweather opponents back in September 2012, but a shoulder injury prompted him to pull out of the engagement. Conveniently enough, though, it may be a better fight two years later than it would have been back then.

    Alvarez went on to savage Josesito Lopez that night in Las Vegas, and Kirkland has subsequently extended his win streak to five since he was stunningly defeated in one round by Nobuhiro Ishida in April 2011.

    Also of note, Kirkland was a winner by sixth-round TKO over Alvarez's Saturday opponent, Angulo, when those two met in November 2011. And because he's also got a win—albeit a less decisive one—over IBF junior middleweight champ Molina (DQ 10, in March 2012), he's got little else to prove to show he belongs. 

    Odds it will happen:


2. Sergio Martinez (or Miguel Cotto)

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    Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

    Reasons it could happen:

    The fact that Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto are fighting in June for a middleweight championship is terrific news for the Alvarez camp. It's not because the Mexican is as accomplished as his Argentine and Puerto Rican counterparts; it's because whomever wins the fight in Madison Square Garden will validate the path from 154-pound champion to 160-pound kingpin.

    Martinez, who stands just a shade taller than Alvarez at 5'10", is a former IBO champion in the weight class and weighed in less than 154 pounds for a fight as recently as 2009. Cotto, meanwhile, is two inches shorter than Alvarez, started his career at 140 pounds and was the WBA's champion at 154 until losing to Mayweather in 2012.

    Not to mention, if Alvarez could add a middleweight title to his resume, the odds of him warranting a big-stage return bout with "Money" increase exponentially.

    Odds it will happen:


1. Erislandy Lara

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Reasons it could happen:

    If you're good enough to beat a guy like Angulo, it's only logical that you'd want to strut your stuff against the guy who'd beaten him in his last fight prior to Saturday night. And if that's the case, go ahead and book Erislandy Lara as the next contestant on "Who Gets to Share in the Canelo Spotlight."

    The 30-year-old Cuban has flown under the mainstream radar while essentially cleaning out the big-name ranks at 154 pounds since 2011.

    He was a majority decision loser to Paul Williams in a bout labeled its "Robbery of the Year" for 2011 and has since blown out pretenders Ronald Hearns and Freddy Hernandez in 2012, stopped Angulo in 10 rounds in June 2013 and won a wide decision over another Alvarez foe, Austin Trout, three months ago in Brooklyn.

    He's a Golden Boy promotional property as well, and his choice words about Alvarez in a chat with The Ring's Lem Satterfield indicate that he's quite anxious to cross paths with his stablemate.

    "Golden Boy has done a great job promoting him, and that’s why he’s gotten as far as he’s gotten," Lara said, "but I feel that he’s a baby, and that’s all that he is"

    Sign the contract...and let the press conferences begin.

    Odds it will happen:



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