Although it now seems virtually nailed on that Floyd Mayweather will defend his WBC welterweight title against interim belt holder Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero on May 4th, as of yet there is no opponent named for WBC light middleweight champ Saul “Canelo” Alvarez – the chief supporting act on the MGM Grand show.
Although many fight fans would like to see 22 year old Canelo (41-0-1, 30 KOs) take on the suddenly marketable WBA 154 lb. titlist Austin Trout after the latter´s emphatic points win over Miguel Cotto last December, I would be very surprised if Alvarez’ management team at Golden Boy would risk their prize asset ahead of a potential mega-money showdown with Mayweather, slated for this September, especially against a potential banana skin like the 5’10”, smooth boxing, undefeated 27 year old Trout.
Ideally Alvarez should be choosing an opponent with the potential Mayweather showdown in mind, and therefore preparing for said fight by taking on a cutie defensive specialist like an AustinTrout, but maybe not quite so dangerous. An obvious choice would be the slick boxing Cuban danger-man Erislandy Lara, but danger-man is the operative word where Lara is concerned; his sole career loss was a blatant robbery against Paul Williams in 2011, and aside from that his record seems to feature an unusual blend of points wins and first round KO´s. Lara is the WBC´s no.1 contender at light middle, so Alvarez will have to meet him sooner or later, although one gets the feeling the later the better as far as Golden Boy is concerned.
Skilled technical boxers Carlos Molina and IBF champ Cornelius Bundrage would also fit the bill, although both men are currently otherwise engaged – Molina has an IBF eliminator against another slickster, veteran two-weight world champ Cory Spinks, and Bundrage has a defense lined up against Ishe Smith, both bouts taking place next month.
What Golden Boy would really like is another opponent like Shane Mosley, i.e. a marquee name that is way past his prime and of no real threat to the “Canelo” road show. Trouble is, Alvarez has already fought Mosley – last year on the big Cinco de Mayo show that saw Mayweather defeat Cotto in an exciting twelve rounder. Alvarez won every round against the once great but badly faded Mosley, who announced his retirement soon after, only to un-retire himself this week and declared he will now fight Paulie Malignaggi for his WBA welterweight title (oh well, at least we know that there is no-way Shane can get hurt in that one!)
Although he’s not quite of the Mosley-esque caliber of shot opponent, Miguel Cotto might just be the perfect choicet to make Canelo look good, and really stoke up the fires for a September showdown (providing Mayweather gets past his own potential banana skin in the tough, awkward and dogged Guerrero.)
Cotto last looked good gaining revenge over a half blind Antonio Margarito late in 2011. Last year he looked slow and plodding as he surrendered his WBA 154 lb.”super” world title to Mayweather, although he still managed to press the action, land some decent combinations and win enough rounds to make the fight competitive, despite the scoring of the ringside judges to the contrary.
Last time out Miguel looked even slower against “No Doubt” Trout, the former amateur standout from New Mexico. Cotto looked ineffective from the start against the sheer size and skill of Trout, and had “No Doubt” been a tad more ruthless, a late stoppage looked on the cards as Cotto was clearly content just to last the distance. In the end Trout won by scorelines as one-sided as Mayweather had, although this time the judges were on the money.
The truth is Cotto’s style was never meant for ring longevity, and his third title reign at light middleweight was an Indian Summer that few of us saw coming after his heavy losses to Margarito (controversially of course) and Manny Pacquiao. He should really be considering hanging up his gloves, but that is highly unlikely for a big name fighter who could still feature in several big money bouts.
Dan Hunter is the editor of The Boxing Post and the author of the weight training and fitness ebook Urban Muscle