A recap of the highest-profile boxing matches of the weekend.
A work in progress
In Canelo Alvarez, what we have is a strong, young, gifted fighter who is just beginning his championship journey.
But what was on display Saturday night in a super welterweight title unification bout at the Alamodome in San Antonio was much of what the young slugger from Mexico lacks.
In defeating sneaky southpaw Austin Trout , which is no easy task, Alvarez did enough to claim a victory on Showtime that was a much closer fight than whichever one most of the ringside judges witnessed (official scoring: 115-112, 116-111, 118-109). But hey, at least they got the result right.
For Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs), he now has an opportunity to take a good look at himself and tally the things he needs to improve upon. At various times during the bout, his ability to cut off the ring, his footwork, his conditioning and his combination punching came into question. True, Trout had much to do with that, but if Alvarez wants his championship reign to match his immense popularity, he needs to be the one controlling the tempo and pace of the bout. And that's all about refining his skill.
Too many times, Alvarez – who is strong but not exactly a big super welter – was being outpunched and outworked. He had a hard time getting inside and was rendered one-dimensional, doing much of his damage from the outside while dodging punches and winging hooks and wild overhand rights.
[Related: Showtime's Canelo Alvarez-Austin Trout recap]
Alvarez's head movement and feinting were impressive, and he indeed made Trout (26-1, 14 KOs) miss on a lot of punches. Alvarez can really box from the outside. He also has heavy hands with impressive speed, and his punches reverberate. That was the difference in the bout: the power of Alvarez's punches, which impressed the judges and was evident in this seventh-round knockdown that put Trout down for the first time in his career – in really goofy fashion.
Perhaps it's asking too much for a 22-year-old world champion to be so complete, but when you see the charisma, the movie-star good looks, and those quick and powerful hands, you expect something special.
And Alvarez is special. He's just not yet ready to be one of the pound-for-pound best.
What's next? Alvarez can pretty much dictate what he wants to do – with the exception of a Floyd Mayweather Jr. bout. Canelo isn't that big-time yet; Floyd still runs the fight game. But it would do monster pay-per-view numbers, and if "Money May" wants it to happen it will. There also are some other intriguing options for Alvarez. As for Trout, well, he's just a little too good, too slick and too awkward. He isn't exciting, doesn't have a big following and specializes in making fighters look worse than they are. It could be a tough task getting other contenders to jump in the ring with him.
The undercard: A pair of undefeated lightweight prospects faced off in a quick, entertaining bout. Omar Figueroa (21-0-1, 17 KOs) landed a compact, picture-perfect left to the body that put Abner Cotto (16-1, 7 KOs) down for the count late in the first round. Figueroa is a brawler who doesn't mind taking a shot to land one of his, and he can really punch. Also, as the Showtime announcers wouldn't let us forget, Figueroa had a full scholarship to Texas A&M but left school to pursue the sweet science. Just call him "Omar Boxing."
The last words: "He was the better man. He was quicker. He was stronger. He was the better man than me. I have no excuses for tonight. ... He boxed a lot better than I thought. He moved a lot better than I thought. Not that I was underestimating him, but we were just preparing for a totally different fighter. He shocked us." – Austin Trout, on Canelo Alvarez
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