COMMENTARY | Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, unlike any fighter to set his sights on Floyd Mayweather before him, just may win a battle of wills against the controversial 5-division world champ. Unlike Robert Guerrero, who proved to be little challenge for Mayweather in a face to face fight on May 4, Alvarez is looking more and more like the big winner in his quest for a big money Mayweather bout on September 14.
Assuming that early reports are true and the Mayweather-Guerrero pay-per-view buy rate was an overall disappointment, Showtime and those with an actual vested economic interest in Mayweather's six-fight, thirty-month deal will likely be putting copious amounts of pressure on the fighter's team to pick things up with this next event. They'll likely want an opponent who can carry his end of the promotion and whip fans into a buying frenzy.
But looking out over the horizon at possible bouts with fighters from 140 to 154 lbs., there just aren't all that many bankable names who fit the bill of good guy to Mayweather's well-hyped bad guy.
There are a number of quality opponents available, but Mayweather is now in a position of having to sustain an empire and being a quality opponent is just not enough anymore. He has to fight someone who is either already a bankable draw or one who can be made a draw in the few months leading up to the fight. So, while bouts with the likes of Danny Garcia, coming up from 140, and Erislandy Lara at 154 may be interesting, they just wouldn't be able to generate enough buys. And, of course, forget any Top Rank fighter-Pacquiao, Bradley, Alvarado-because, as we should all know by now, Bob Arum would prefer to lose a dime than put a penny in Mayweather's pocket.
So, that leaves Saul Alvarez as the only reasonable, viable, and realistically possible opponent for Mayweather.
The 22-year-old WBC junior middleweight champ from Guadalajara has been a major draw in Mexico for the better part of two years and just proved his across-the-border appeal by bringing 40,000 screaming fans to San Antonio, Texas' Alamodome for his April 20 bout with Austin Trout. Since moving from HBO to Showtime, Alvarez has also registered two ratings hits for the network.
Given the substantial Mexican and Mexican-American hardcore boxing fan base in the United States, Canelo is a no-brainer for a Mayweather clash. And whether Mayweather likes it or not, he may be the only option on the table when it comes to a next fight.
For Alvarez, landing the Mayweather fight is a win-win proposition.
"If Canelo wins it is a great triumph for Canelo and all of Mexico," four-division world champ, Juan Manuel Marquez commented to Boxingscene. "If he loses he still wins because of the experience he gains from the fight. He won't lose from learning from a fight like that. That is why I say it is a win-win situation."
WBC president, Jose Sulaiman, however, is of a very different opinion.
"I think that Canelo Alvarez should take one or two more fights (before facing Mayweather)," Sulaiman told ESPN Deportes. "It would be an error to fight him (now)….the possibility of a victory now as compared to next year would be completely different...Canelo showed great advances in his bout with Trout, but Canelo is still very young and he should be worried about maintaining his place as world champion and as a Mexican idol for many more years and not get into his head a fight for a certain amount of money that would be better for him next year."
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer will reportedly begin talks this week with Mayweather adviser, Al Haymon for a Mayweather-Alvarez bout in September, but there's no guarantee that any sort of deal will be worked out.
Mayweather, who has shown a real distaste for feeling cornered or pressured in pre-fight negotiations, may bristle at the idea of a list of potential opponents with just one name on it. Not too long ago Mayweather allowed Alvarez to remove his fight with Trout from the Mayweather-Guerrero undercard over a refusal to sign a contract to fight him next. At the time, Mayweather balked at the idea of a 22-year-old relative newcomer trying to issue ultimatums to him.
But things may have changed drastically since then.
Mayweather will need to follow up the Guerrero romp with a bout promising a more competitive tussle and one guaranteed to attract fan attention. Like it or not, Mayweather may have to swallow his pride for the first time in a long time, and accept that he has been boxed into a corner.
For "Money" Mayweather, it's Canelo or Bust on September 14.
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.
Sources: Boxingscene, ESPN Deportes
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