Before Saturday’s fight against Austin Trout, boxing fans and analysts weren’t sure what to make of 22 year-old Saúl “Canelo” Alvarez. The Mexican boxer had a sterling record of 41 wins (30 by knock out), 0 losses and 1 draw, but hadn’t fought anyone of note. In fact, Alvarez’s best victory was over completely past-his-prime Shane Mosley, which, obviously, doesn’t say much.
While Alvarez already possessed a rabid Mexican fanbase eager to proceed with his coronation, detractors were quick to point out the lackluster list of opponents and slap the “over-hyped” label on the young boxer. Until he proved he could defeat a worthy opponent, the critics were hesitant to call him boxing’s next big thing, due to the perception that he was nothing more than a tactical jab artist.
On Saturday night, the critics got their wish. Alvarez’s opponent, Austin Trout, was undefeated in his professional career entering the fight and had just scored an impressive victory over Miguel Cotto. For the first time in his young career, Alvarez was set to face a boxer that would truly challenge him.
Before the fight, two of the three ESPN experts (Dan Rafael and Brian Campbell) picked Trout to win the fight over Alvarez. Rafael thought that Trout would simply outbox “the more one-dimensional Alvarez,” while Campbell believed that Trout’s size would allow him to overpower Alvarez physically.
During the fight, however, a different story began to unfold. Yes, Alvarez used his patented jab, but he also relied on his defense and counterpunching to fluster Trout. The Mexican boxer also showcased his power, landing a straight right hand in the seventh round which knocked Trout down for the first time in his career.
Still, the fight wasn’t a masterpiece for Alvarez. Trout landed more punches overall and there were times in the middle rounds where Alvarez looked gassed. However, Alvarez was able to neutralize Trout’s assault through some deft head movement and was clearly unfazed by the punches that landed. Though he certainly didn’t win as decidedly as judge Stanley Christodoulou’s 118-109 card suggested he had, Alvarez deserved to win the fight.
“I learned a lot this fight,” said Alvarez after unifying the 154-pound titles. “I always felt comfortable and confident and did what I had to do to win.”
With his win over Trout, speculation has already begun about who Alvarez’s next opponent will be. Of course, many believe/hope it will be boxing’s pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather. While this would likely be boxing’s biggest draw in quite some time, it’s still too early to know whether it will happen.
For one, Mayweather has shown in the past that he is not above avoiding the fight that everyone craves (see “Pacquiao, Manny”). Also, Mayweather already has a fight scheduled with Robert Guerrero on May 4th and will need to win that bout in order to fuel the hype for a potential contest with Alvarez.
For one night, at least, the speculation could wait. By stopping Trout, Alvarez has given his doubters a little less fuel. It will probably take another fight or two against high-profile opponents for Alvarez to secure superstar status (unless, of course, he defeats Mayweather), but Alvarez has now proven he is up to the task.
In a boxing world where nothing is certain, this just might be: The eyes of fans everywhere are now fixed firmly on Canelo Alvarez.
Charlie Crespo (@Little_Utopia) is the editor-in-chief of Little Utopia.
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