The days of unifying titles and fighting the best in your division is at a low. With promoter rivalries, network rivalries, ridiculous organizations, and building fighters up, there are many unproven fighters and champions today in boxing.
Many would classify Saul “Canelo” Alvarez as an unproven fighter, who holds a championship belt. His competition since joining Golden Boy Promotions has been less than stellar, but it has helped build a tremendous fan base north of Mexico where he has rock star status. He has faced name opponents who were old and faded and helped build a resume that would help and hurt him. It helped get him a junior middleweight title shot against a welterweight Mathew Hatton, who was not even a top ten junior middleweight at the time, in a fight where he dominated his opponent and got the biggest marketing tool that he possibly needed. That hurt him as well as fans started to criticize him for the lack of competition he was facing. In a very loaded division with quite a bit of fighters having the same promoter, matches should have been made earlier to help build his status as a great champion of this era. Was the criticism unjust? Partially. You can’t blame the fighter for staying busy. It is the promoter’s responsibility to line up the opponents. Where does “Canelo’s” fault lie? Well maybe he should have spoke up to his promoter and asked for tougher fights. Manny Pacquiao had a similar situation over at Top Rank. After moving up from the lower weight classes, Pacquiao faced old name fighters and had a lot of fights at catch weights but is not as often criticized for it.
“Canelo” had pushed for a fight with Miguel Cotto, who was a title holder in the 154 lb. division for a while, but was unable to land the fight. Even though Cotto was older and didn’t seem to be the same fighter he once was, he was still a top fighter in the division which Alvarez needed (Even though fans forgot Ryan Rhodes was a top ten fighter when they faced off). When it seemed like the possibility of a fight with Cotto would happen; the “Canelo Curse” struck Cotto and he lost his fight to Austin Trout. What was a financial loss for Canelo in the biggest possible payday he could have received ended up paying off in a different way. He has the chance to face, beat, and unify the titles against a top ten fighter in the same division.
As for Trout, he may have much more to lose in this fight. Trout has faced a few bigger names in the 154 lb. division and has won against them. His fight with Cotto was career defining. He thoroughly outworked Cotto in his “back yard” and handed him his first defeat ever in MSG. Trout also holds a victory over Delvin Rodriguez who is not the easiest fighter to beat. Most importantly of all, Trout holds a victory over “Canelo’s” older brother Rigoberto.
Going into the fight with Alvarez, Trout will have a sizable crowd in his favor of “Canelo” doubters and fans from his native New Mexico which is not that far away, and he might be considered the hometown fighter as well.
If Alvarez wins, he will silence a majority of his critics. He does have the most to prove in this fight. He can move on to bigger money fights such as a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. or he could continue unifying titles at 154. We may even get to see him move up in weight soon in search of new challenges. It seems all of the criticism that Alvarez has been receiving has motivated him and Trout may be in for a tough night.