COMMENTARY | It was a close, competitive fight at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, but Saul " Canelo" Alvarez managed to defeat a world class Austin Trout to now become a two-belt junior middleweight champ.
Putting aside the ridiculous 118-109 score from judge Stanley Christodoulou, Alvarez legitimately won the biggest bout of his career and has finally earned the right to be considered an elite fighter in his division.
At 22 years of age, the native of Guadalajara has the world at his feet and many possible directions in which to take his career. Here's a look at five viable options for the new undisputed top dog at 154 lbs.
This is the holy grail of all big ticket, main stage bouts. Forget about whether the bout is winnable or not, Alvarez merely being in the same ring with Mayweather will boost his mainstream appeal and marketability. The 36-year-old Mayweather is not getting any younger and boxing is the most unpredictable of all sports-so, you just never know. A win would immediately turn Canelo into a superstar, but a good, competitive loss could do the trick as well. Heck, the worst that could possibly happen is Alvarez gets a seven-figure payday for a one-sided loss in a bout few saw him winning, anyway. Definitely consider a Mayweather bout a win-win proposition.
The Winner of Erislandy Lara vs. Alfredo Angulo
If Alvarez is looking for some more instant street cred, fighting the winner of June's junior middleweight showdown would definitely get him a hefty dose of respect among any remaining doubters. Cuba's Lara is smoother than smooth and a technical master while Mexico's Angulo is a blue collar battler with a well-earned reputation as a boxing tough guy. Both would present their own distinct challenges for Canelo and a win over either would be an incredible resume-filler.
As of right now, boxing's "Mandingo Warrior" has been inactive for thirteen months due to promotional and managerial conflicts and shows no signs of an upcoming return to the ring. If/When Kirkland can get his business dealings worked out, few fighters are as compelling as the native of Austin, Texas. Kirkland definitely has his weaknesses, but he's also one of the most deadly offensive fighters in the game. It's all feast or famine with Kirkland and a bout against Alvarez would be a guaranteed good time for the fans.
The 32-year-old Cotto is on the decline after a long and grueling twelve-year career, but is still one of the biggest names in the junior middleweight division and still one of its fiercest competitors. Cotto vs. Canelo would be a wonderful stylistic match-up and could produce a Fight of the Year candidate. It has been a long time since the Puerto Rican battler has beaten a prime, world class fighter, but it would definitely be a mistake to count him out.
The Winner of Ishe Smith vs. Carlos Molina
The dark horse candidate for Canelo's next fight would be the winner of this battle of underrated and unsung junior middleweights. Smith recently captured the IBF 154 lb. title with a solid decision win over Cornelius Bundrage. Molina has beaten a who's who of quality junior middleweights, but has found himself a victim to bad judging, poor officiating, and the ever-present clinch of sanctioning body politics. Both Smith and Molina deserve their share of recognition and a nice payday-a bout with Alvarez could fix all of that. Competitively, Smith and Molina are die-hard spoilers who might not always make for entertaining scraps, but would bring great learning opportunities for the 22-year-old star.
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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