COMMENTARY | From recent reports, all signs are pointing to Saul "Canelo" Alvarez taking on the challenge of Austin Trout this coming May 4 underneath a likely Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero main event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Trout, a native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, is coming off the biggest win of his seven-year pro career, registering a decisive unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto, December 1 at New York's Madison Square Garden.
At the time, the Puerto Rican three-division world champ, Cotto, was being considered as a possible opponent for the 22-year-old WBC junior middleweight champ, Alvarez. The loss to Trout ruined Golden Boy's immediate plans for their fighter and sent some negative attention Alvarez's way when the promotional firm appeared to be still considering Cotto for the May 4 date.
The apparent snubbing of Trout fed into the growing general sentiment that Alvarez has been a protected champion working under the benefit of Golden Boy's matchmaking. The 27-year-old Trout is skillful, athletic, and considerably fresher than the well-traveled Cotto at this point and would present a much more complicated stylistic match-up for the young champion from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.
Behind the scenes, though, rumors were rampant that Alvarez, himself, was pushing for a better level of opposition and, specifically, for a showdown with Trout.
Even while Golden Boy CEO, Richard Schaefer, publicly explored the possibility of keeping Cotto in the picture, Alvarez was telling the media something completely different.
"A fight with Miguel Cotto is devalued," Alvarez told Univision. "He's coming off two straight losses. Let him win again and we'll talk. I'm looking for another boxer May 4."
In his eyes, the ideal opponent, both financially and competitively, was Floyd Mayweather, who Alvarez felt was likely his next foe until very recently. Now, it appears as though a big money Mayweather-Alvarez bout is going to be allowed to simmer for at least a few more months while a rivalry is built over a shared bill pay-per-view.
With Mayweather-Guerrero and Alvarez-Trout in co-features, the show would set up a mini-playoff scenario, leading to a clash during Mexico's traditional Independence Day celebrations in September.
However, a victory over Trout, who scored a one-sided unanimous decision over Alvarez's brother, Rigoberto, in 2011, is by no means a gimme for the red-headed world titlist.
Trout will test Alvarez's ability to deal with a disciplined southpaw stylist and, for that reason, has to be regarded as his toughest career obstacle so far. For that reason, Alvarez-Trout was a bout that Golden Boy had been apparently reluctant to pursue. But, with their backs up against a public relations wall, they appear ready to roll the dice on the main stage match-up.
Alvarez has been publicly ambivalent about Trout as an opponent, but is also seemingly aware of the position in which he would find himself should he move on to another opponent. Trout, aside from representing a tough stylistic match-up, also brings very little to the table in terms of fan base or mainstream crossover potential. In the risk-reward world of professional boxing, Trout pretty much represents a lose-lose proposition. A win will be hard to obtain, but the benefits of the win won't really do much for Canelo beyond gaining some street cred among the hardest of the hardcore fight fans.
By his own career plan, last year was supposed to feature Alvarez's coming out party. However, a series of accidents, disputes, and upsets removed Paul Williams, James Kirkland, and Victor Ortiz from big fight consideration. Instead, "Canelo" settled on a lesser bout with Ortiz conqueror, Josesito Lopez, and decided to push back his coming out fiesta until May. Ideally, the opponent would've been Cotto and Alvarez could've fought in a much more comfortable style while putting in a brutally memorable performance.
Now, Trout will have to serve as that first real test. It's not a gamble that anyone in Team Alvarez would necessarily like to make, but with a frustrated and increasingly dismissive fan base on one side and an anxious Canelo on the other, this is the only move to make.
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.
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