COMMENTARY | WBC junior middleweight champion, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs) has suffered through some rough criticism in recent months just as he's beginning to develop into the world class fighter he was always thought to be. But, hand in hand with some of his most dominant performances is the fact that the 22-year-old titlist, already five defenses into his reign, has not picked up the level of his opposition.
This may change after his May 4 undercard appearance on the Floyd Mayweather pay-per-view. According to rumors, apparently confirmed by Alvarez, himself, the young champion will be taking on WBA junior middleweight titlist, Austin Trout (26-0, 14 KOs), in a champion vs. champion clash.
"Austin Trout is the only opponent [being considering]," Alvarez told Rene Umanzor of the Latin American publication, The Record. "No one else is on the list or anything like that, and it's almost certainly going to be against him. I'm just waiting to confirm that we have signed against the two [Mayweather and Trout], and I'll be ready."
Alvarez was set to remedy his perceived easy road to stardom last year, when his team selected Paul Williams as an opponent for a September 15 date in Las Vegas. Williams, however, would suffer a career-ending injury in a motorcycle accident. Replacement, James Kirkland, would then walk away over money issues and again leave the young champion with no high-profile opponent. Victor Ortiz was pegged next for the opponent role, only to be, literally, knocked out of the slot by underdog tune-up, Josesito Lopez.
Canelo would move on to face Lopez, crushing him as expected, but continue to take punishment from the critics, who ridiculed his pummeling of the smaller, less-talented blue collar battler.
The plan for 2013 was to arrange for a bout with Miguel Cotto, who had suffered a defeat to Floyd Mayweather in May of 2012, but accounted well for himself in the unanimous decision loss. The Puerto Rican three-division champ would be the perfect foe for Alvarez-- a big-name veteran on the downside of a long career, but good enough to put up a nice effort. All Cotto had to do was beat WBA titlist, Austin Trout in December-- something he, ultimately, couldn't do.
With the Cotto loss, Golden Boy's plans for Canelo had once again been upset and the effort began anew to find a suitable showcase opponent for their young cash cow. Trout, despite beating the man who was pegged to challenge the man, was not in anyone's immediate plans and Golden Boy was not shy in letting the world know that they would be looking elsewhere for the right replacement for Cotto, opposite Alvarez.
But, apparently, at some point between the Cotto loss and the last couple of weeks, the public relations mess that would've come from skipping over Trout became too much to simply cast aside. Barring some strange last-minute maneuvering, it looks as though the Las Cruces, New Mexico native, who owns a 2011 victory over Alvarez's brother, Rigoberto, will be Canelo's opponent under the bright lights of the MGM Grand.
Alvarez-Trout is a scary match-up to Golden Boy for many reasons. The undefeated Trout is smart, crafty, disciplined, and at the top of his career. Recent wins over Cotto and Delvin Rodriguez affirm that the well-schooled southpaw is no fringe contender disguised as a paper champion. If Alvarez is to win, he'll have to show some finesse and timing to go along with his steamroll mentality. He'll have to show some skills that he's never had to show before, at least not at this level.
From there, it's on to Floyd Mayweather and the biggest of all big ticket showcases. But nobody should be surprised if Trout flips the script and comes out on top.
Critics be damned, this will be a real fight on May 4. If Trout is the opponent and Canelo manages to beat him, the kid has certainly earned his place among the sport's real champs.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
Rene Umanzor, Canelo Expects To Face Trout, Then Mayweather, Boxingscene