When Alvarez first stated an interest in facing Floyd, he was a teenager, just becoming known to U.S. fans, and it was brushed aside as admirable, but a bit silly. At 19, Alvarez was nowhere near ready for Floyd. A win over Jose Miguel Cotto on a Mayweather undercard didn't exactly vault him to the world stage, but it did turn heads.
Since then, Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KO) has easily handled the likes of Matthew Hatton, Kermit Cintron, Alfonso Gomez, an ancient Shane Mosley, and a small but game Josesito Lopez. Still, though Alvarez was becoming a star and convincing at least some of his skeptics he was for real, he hadn't convinced others that he was really ready for a Mayweather challenge.
Still just 22, last night's win over Trout may have been as big a final step as he could make to show he's in that league for real. If beating Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto is good enough to get Robert Guerrero into the ring with Floyd -- and that's no shot at the May 4 fight -- and wins over Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga, and a one-eyed Antonio Margarito made Miguel Cotto viable for Mayweather, then surely beating Austin Trout is good enough to make Canelo a worthy opponent.
When you combine a very good win with the fact that Alvarez is a true and young 154-pound fighter, it becomes, potentially, a very interesting fight. 14 years Mayweather's junior, Canelo presents at least some physical danger for the smaller, older Mayweather (43-0, 26 KO).
The Canelo-Mayweather idea is already buzzing around the boxing world, of course, and some major names have weighed in on the likelihood.
Here's what Golden Boy's Oscar De La Hoya said about the fight:
"Canelo wants all the titles. He wants to unify the titles. Ishe Smith just won a championship and he is in a hot division. There is no reason why he can't be in the mix for these fights but Canelo's focus right now is to make the biggest fights out there and that is Floyd Mayweather."
De La Hoya says two different things here, and only one of them has been truly stated by Canelo, which is that Alvarez wants Mayweather. He's said little about unifying all the titles, and certainly hasn't stated any notable desire to fight IBF titlist Ishe Smith. The division's other beltholder is currently WBO titlist Zaurbek Baysangurov, who will face Demetrius Andrade on July 6 in Ukraine.
Larry Merchant, who did international commentary in San Antonio last night, doesn't think Floyd-Canelo will happen next:
"Mayweather is supposed to have a six-fight contract [with Showtime] and usually a fighter doesn't want to put that kind of a deal in jeopardy. And I think that Alvarez poses a serious threat to him. He's a naturally bigger guy, he's strong, he's tough. I don't see that happening sooner rather than later. But, in the meantime, [Canelo] becomes a star attraction all over."
The fight that many pundits and fans seem to expect to see next for Alvarez is Miguel Cotto, the Puerto Rican star who lost to Trout in December to set up last night's fight. It was obvious that Canelo-Cotto was the target for Golden Boy when Cotto-Trout was made, and with Canelo at ringside, Cotto lost, just as Victor Ortiz had lost to Josesito Lopez in his presence to thwart another big fight earlier in the year.
Cotto (37-4, 30 KO) is 32 now, turning 33 in October, and seems to have one foot out the door. He also struggled with the pure size of Trout, a legit junior middleweight, and Canelo is also a sturdy, natural 154-pound fighter, and he hits harder than Trout. It's hard to imagine the 2013 version of Cotto, while still a good fighter, giving Canelo any serious trouble.
However, it's a fight that will naturally sell. The Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry isn't at its hottest right now, but it's still significant, and Cotto remains Puerto Rico's biggest boxing star, while Alvarez is the rising superstar of Mexican boxing at the moment. It's a fight between a guy on the way up in a hurry, and, to be honest, a star fighter on the way down. And with the sell comes further stardom for Canelo. Also, if he were to really demolish Cotto, which Mayweather could not do, that might up the interest in Floyd-Canelo even further. That's already a true mega-fight, and could get even more attractive. If Canelo keeps grabbing attention, we could be talking about a fight that gets up there with the all-time pay-per-view hits.
Will Canelo get Mayweather next? I think it's highly unlikely. Floyd has talked about fighting again in September, but nobody really thinks that will happen, unless he polishes off Robert Guerrero really quickly on May 4, and even then it would be a bit of a surprise for Floyd to jump back into another camp so quickly.
Mayweather could fight late this year, or he could be back in a year after the Guerrero fight, and we're assuming, which may be unfair, that Mayweather will definitely beat Guerrero in two weeks.
My guess is that we do see Canelo vs Cotto next, and then next year, Mayweather vs Canelo talks really start to heat up. If we do get into any legitimate negotiations, though, it's going to be a tough sell for Floyd. Not only does the fight seem truly risky right now, which isn't what Floyd will ever say, but Canelo can sell 40,000 tickets at the Alamodome, and Canelo can sell out the MGM Grand with Josesito Lopez with Chavez-Martinez down the road at the same time, and Canelo brings in TV viewers, and Canelo will draw some PPV buys, and Canelo has a legitimate fan base.
In other words, while Floyd Mayweather insists no one dictates terms to him, Alvarez has a much better case for dictating some of the terms than anyone Mayweather has fought since Oscar De La Hoya, even Cotto and Ricky Hatton, major stars themselves.
It won't be next, and it might be never. Hopefully, though, it's a fight we see before it loses value.