The landscape of boxing has just taken a monstrous shift. What could’ve been the biggest event in all of boxing, a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. is now just a sad afterthought. The detractors of boxing will suggest that the moment Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Pacquiao he simultaneously dealt the death blow to a sport not afforded many superstars. However, that is just not true and boxing has always found a way to survive until its next mainstream cover boy comes along.
That could very well be junior middleweight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. While many feel that Canelo is an untested fighter who has enjoyed a cushy journey into superstardom, others know his star power can’t be denied and feel his rise to the top of the sport is inevitable.
The star qualities of the Mexican born Alvarez are obvious; he possesses a unique look that differs from the prototypical Mexican fighter. Along with his unique good looks Alvarez has sharp boxing skills made to entertain. It would appear that the only thing missing is that transcending fight that propels a fighters’ career.
It should’ve been Miguel Cotto, but after Austin Trout ruined those plans, it seems that Canelo will have to come up with a way to satisfy the discontent certain fans have with his recent choice in opponents, while maintaining the commercial appeal from an opponent that can satisfy the casual fan’s interests.
We all know that Alvarez will take advantage of the Cinco de Mayo date — a typically big date in boxing — and fight an opponent that can add to the allure of Mexico’s most appealing fighter fighting on one of the country’s most extravagant dates. But who will Alvarez fight and which fight makes the most sense?
- Floyd Mayweather Jr.- I would assume that Canelo is sitting either 1 or 2 on the short list of opponents to face boxing’s cash cow Floyd, but is Floyd the best choice for Alvarez? Floyd benefits from this fight because he’ll be able to take advantage of a fighter whose stardom has eclipsed his legitimacy as a top fighter. At this point Canelo is on the pound for pound list when it comes to the business of boxing, but not in regards to the sport of boxing. I would rather Floyd fight the other option in Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and let the Canelo fight marinate a bit more. As I expressed earlier, boxing’s money fight has just unraveled with Pacquiao’s defeat and Mayweather-Alvarez may have just become the biggest money fight that can be made in the sport (although I still think Mayweather-Pacquiao is a lucrative fight). I don’t think Canelo should take this fight yet, especially if he actually wants to win it. He needs to let Floyd get old and take advantage of a possible decline.
- Miguel Cotto– Call me crazy, but I’d still like to see Canelo-Cotto. This fight could still do big numbers despite Cotto’s loss because you have Puerto Rico’s biggest fighter versus Mexico’s biggest fighter and the Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry can’t be underestimated, especially if it takes place on Cinco de Mayo weekend. Also, I don’t think Cotto looked as bad as many said he did. He still has some quality fight left in him and if you buy into the notion that Canelo is a hype job then I feel Cotto can present a real challenge. Besides, Cotto will easily be the most legitimate fight on Canelo’s resume and one of the biggest names, right next to the old version of Shane Mosley. Canelo will get credit if he can beat Cotto, which will satisfy the fans, and Canelo will get compensated handsomely for the namesake opponent, which will make him and Golden Boy happy.
- Austin Trout- The most unlikely opponent for Canelo’s May date. Trout is the only downside I see to the Cotto fight. In a perfect world (or at least an uncorrupt sport), Trout would have earned the fight with Canelo the second he earned the victory over Cotto, but that probably won’t happen because Trout is too high risk/low reward (being a legitimate 154lb fighter doesn’t help him in this case either). Trout doesn’t possess enough star power to land the fight. Logic would suggest that he can get the fight because the last time this happened it was Josesito Lopez who defeated the potential opponent in Victor Ortiz and Lopez got the big Mexico Independence date. However, the upside to Lopez was his ethnicity and lack of poundage, something that doesn’t favor Trout. I’d give Canelo a ton of credit if he were to fight Trout and it would presumably be enough to shift his image in a more positive direction, but that won’t translate into dollars and that is what will ultimately prevent the fight from happening.
- Cornelius “K9” Bundrage/Gabriel Rosado/Erislandy Lara/Vanes Martirosyan– All these guys are unlikely because they have other business to take care of before May. The upside for K9 is he is the full IBF junior middleweight champion, but he is in play for a title defense in February. If any of these fighters can win while sustaining little damage then they could make the quick turnaround, but that is probably unlikely. Lara and Martirosyan have unfinished business and I doubt they can rematch their November eliminator in time to meet Canelo in May. However, if any of these junior middleweights made the Canelo bill then it would a step in the right direction in validating Canelo as a superior 154lbder.
- Marcos Maidana– This is a joke, it was humorous suggestion made on Thaboxingvoice.com’s radio show a few weeks back by one of the most knowledgeable callers TBV has, best known as Boogie Down Sean on twitter. Even though it was a joke, I don’t think that the fight is all that farfetched. Not Maidana so much because it looks like Golden Boy is going to secure him with his own date in the first quarter of 2013, but more like what Maidana represents. I don’t think it’s unlikely that someone will come up from a lower weight class, specifically someone with a name that can make an action fight. It would be pretty hard to defend Canelo if he opts for the Josesito Lopez route.
Whoever Canelo chooses to fight it should be seen as a viable fight that Canelo could lose. He needs to test himself against a live body, and a body that weighs a competitive amount. I can understand why Canelo and his handlers would tread lightly, after all Canelo has the potential for making boxing’s biggest paydays for years to come. However, he can’t lose perspective and he mustn’t forget what made Pacquiao into a boxing icon. Before Pacquiao was Pacquiao, he took on all comers and created moments in boxing that resonated with fans. He was known for creating action packed fights and taking on the kind of opponents that tested him. If Canelo hopes to find that kind of success then he needs to find his version of Juan Manuel Marquez and he won’t get that fighting the kind of opposition we’ve come to expect from him.