COMMENTARY | Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (42-0-1) passed his stiffest test thus far by earning a unanimous decision victory over Austin Trout to add the WBA and previously vacant Ring Magazine 154-pound titles to his WBC super welterweight championship. The hard fought victory proved a lot for the still growing 22-year-old Mexican star. But the most important thing that it proved was this: Canelo is not ready for Floyd Mayweather. At least not at this time.
Yes, it would be a huge fight for Mexican Independence Day weekend if the two were to square off this September. But after watching Canelo's performance, he showed multiple holes in his game that a brilliant performer such as Mayweather would exploit. This isn't to diminish how much Alvarez has matured as a fighter by any means. Canelo clearly proved that he can hang with the big boys of the sport, but it wasn't a dominating performance that put Alvarez into the upper echelons of the fictional pound for pound lists.
For starters, the Trout-Alvarez fight was much, much closer than the judges' scorecards would have you believe. The 115-112 and 116-111 scores weren't totally inconceivable, but the 118-109 score by judge Stanley Christodoulou was just as ridiculous as his last name sounds if you were to say it quickly three times. The fight was a much tighter affair where Trout's activity versus Canelo's game changing power and creative combination punching took center stage. Many on social media split hairs when it came to picking a winner as it could have gone 7 rounds to 5 rounds either way. Perhaps in front of another set of judges this fight would have been scored differently. You can also argue that the dreadful open scoring that the WBC employs changed the dynamic of the fight from the fourth round on. It couldn't have boded well for Trout to know that he was down big after the 8th round. Open scoring dissolves any strategy a fighter may have tried to employ while allowing the leading boxer the ability to cruise along and take less risks. In a fight such as this, where it looked far closer than the scoring conveyed, Trout was at a tremendous disadvantage as he came to the realization that a knockout was needed after round 8. Open scoring is one of many things that Alvarez won't have on his side if he and Mayweather were to meet.
Canelo may have demonstrated a much improved jab, counterpunching and defense, but his reliance to fight in spurts for most of the bout became worrisome as the fight progressed. There were multiple moments in the Trout fight where Alvarez downshifted for unknown reasons -- especially in a pendulum swinging 7th round where he scored a knockdown seconds into the round and completely took his foot off the gas. Perhaps he was conserving his energy or maybe he had some difficulty sizing up Trout for one of his equilibrium wrecking combinations, but 431 punches thrown over the course of 12 rounds simply isn't enough to rattle Mayweather. Add that to his over reliance on the home run swing and you have a still flawed Alvarez who simply isn't ready for a boxer of Mayweather's pedigree. Alvarez oftentimes lost his patience with Trout and threw punches in frustration rather than remain calm and calculated. Mayweather enjoys those moments when his foes lose their composure and open themselves up for his pinpoint counterstrikes.If you look at it from a statistical standpoint, Mayweather would likely dismantle Alvarez with his defensive wizardry and precision punching. Although Canelo arguably has a distinct power advantage, he'd have to find a way to hit Mayweather clean for 36 minutes. Prior to the Cotto fight, Mayweather's last nine opponents landed a mere 16% of their punches on the pound for pound king. And even though it appeared that Cotto did much more damage than any of Mayweather's previous opponents, he only landed 21% of his punches (105 of 506) en route to a unanimous decision loss with scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 117-111. Meanwhile, Mayweather lands at an extraordinary clip. His nine opponents previous to Cotto ate 46% of the punches Mayweather offered. The number certainly dipped a bit against Cotto (26%) but given Mayweather's tool set, there isn't much reason to believe that Canelo would offer something that Mayweather's previous opponents didn't show him. Obviously, the notion that Mayweather's age could betray his body is always a possibility, but considering the extraordinary condition that he keeps himself in, it's just not likely. Don't be fooled into believing that Canelo-Mayweather would be all that competitive. Even as Alvarez continues to call out Mayweather, the reality is that he still has much to prove before landing such a huge fight. Sure, Mayweather's other opponents haven't had to do a whole lot before landing a huge payday against the man known as "Money," but rushing Alvarez into this fight may not be such a great idea.
In the interest of Golden Boy Promotions, it may make more sense for Canelo to beat down fellow 154 pounders and continue to build his name with American audiences rather than damage his stature with a Mayweather loss that could be tremendously one sided. Considering that he already filled San Antonio with 40,000 boxing fans against a dangerous fighter with no pull (Trout), a PPV showdown with Miguel Cotto would be a tantalizing dish. If Alvarez were to knock out Cotto, the buzz for a Mayweather-Alvarez showdown next year would almost be deafening. It also doesn't hurt that Mayweather would be another year older and Canelo would get another name on his resume to make this a massive blockbuster fight.But, right now, Canelo hasn't shown enough to prove that he could give Floyd Mayweather a run for his "Money."
Andreas Hale lives in the fight capital of the world and has covered the sport for mainstream media outlets such as MTV.com and Jay-Z's LifeandTimes.com, as well as die-hard websites including FightNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@AndreasHale).
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