It is fair to call 2013 a year of upsets in boxing, thus far.
The first was on March 9 when 48-year-old former RING light heavyweight and middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins unanimously decisioned rugged and previously unbeaten Tavoris Cloud for the IBF 175-pound title, this, after RingTV.com’s panel of 20 experts ever-so-slightly favored Cloud to win, 10-9-1.
Later in March, just one of 22 boxing insiders correctly selected Mike Alvarado to win his junior welterweight rematch with Brandon Rios, who lost their return bout by unanimous decision after having knocked out Alvarado in the seventh round of last October’s bloody, Fight-of-the-Year-caliber clash.
And then, on April 13, RING, IBF and WBO junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire was chosen by 18 of 21 experts to successfully defend his crowns against WBA counterpart Guillermo Rigondeaux, who, nevertheless, vanquished Donaire by unanimous decision.
On Saturday night at The Alamodome in San Antonio, WBC junior middleweight titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 knockouts) will face Austin Trout (26-0, 14 KOs) in a clash to determine the vacant RING championship.
But many are saying Alvarez-Trout is too close to call.
“When it comes to picking fights, there’s no rest for the weary — and that speaks very well for the state of boxing in 2013. This is an exceedingly tough pick,” said RingTV.com’s Lee Groves of Alvarez-Trout, which conjures the controversial draw of September 1993 at the Alamodome between then-WBC welterweight beltholder Pernell Whitaker and Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.
“That analogy works very, very well. On one hand you have Alvarez, who fights more like Chavez Sr. than his own son (slow starts, methodical body attacks and undefeated record) and Trout, who is a slick southpaw like Whitaker and who will face an uphill road in terms of hostile crowds and impressing the judges. Hopefully the judges will choose the right fighter, whomever he may be.”
The 22-year-old Alvarez will take his own budding status as a Mexican icon into the Alamodome, having been ringside for two of the last five victories by Trout.
Alvarez watched in frustration as Trout unanimously decisioned his then-34-year-old brother, Rigoburto Alvarez, in February of 2011 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and bore witness in December as Trout, 27, beat three-division titlewinner Miguel Cotto (37-3, 30 KOs) at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Trout ended Cotto’s unbeaten run at The Garden at 7-0 with four stoppage wins before a crowd of 13,096 fans partisan to Cotto, whose overall record in New York was at 9-0, including five stoppages, prior to the loss.
Prior to facing Cotto, Trout dominated Delvin Rodriguez, winning just about every round of a unanimous decision whose scores were, 117-111, 118-110, and, 120-108.
“I see this as a very, very difficult fight for both guys, to be honest with you. I believe that Trout is going to give Canelo trouble for the first four or five rounds,” said Rodriguez. “But after that, it depends on if Trout can still adapt to the pressure that Canelo has the ability to bring to him. Trout can be very deceiving, and that’s something that people don’t realize unless you’re in the ring with him.
But Trout is among those who critcize Alvarez for largely taking on undersized competition such as Lopez and Alfonso Gomez, and for facing past-their-prime or over-the-hill fighters such as former welterweight beltholders Mosley, Carlos Baldomir, and Kermit Cintron.
Alvarez stopped Baldomir in the sixth round in September of 2010, did the same to Gomez in the sixth in September of 2011, and knocked out Cintron in the fifth in November of 2011.
There is a rematch clause in the event that Alvarez loses.
“When I win, the clause will be in effect. But if he wins, they’ll go about their business,” said Trout. “It just shows, to me, a lack of confidence in their fighter. My team believes in me 100 percent against anybody.”
Below, RingTV.com sought the opinions of 19 insiders as to their thoughts on what will transpire on Saturday night.