Unbeaten RING and WBC junior middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is just 22 years old and already has some important victories under his belts, including April’s unanimous decision over previously unbeaten southpaw Austin Trout.
But on Sept. 14, the Mexican star will be taking on by far his most difficult challenge in RING No. 1-rated pound-for-pounder Floyd Mayweather Jr. (44-0, 26 knockouts) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Mayweather, who turned 36 in February, most recently defeated Robert Guerrero in defense of his WBC welterweight belt on May 4, which earned him THE RING’s 147-pound title.
Asked if Alvarez is facing Mayweather too soon, Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya said he doesn’t think so.
“Too soon? Wow. That’s the scary part, because, first of all, I don’t think that it’s too soon, I think that it’s the perfect moment,” said De La Hoya, whom Mayweather beat by split decision for the WBC’s 154-pound belt in May of 2007.
“You know, the one thing that people have to realize is that Canelo is only getting better and improving as every fight goes on. I can’t imagine how good he’s going to be two, three years down the road. At this tender age, and he’ll be 23 by the time he fights Mayweather, this is the perfect time. The perfect time.”
Alvarez will meet Mayweather at a catchweight of 152 pounds in a Showtime Pay Per View matchup that De La Hoya told RingTV.com during a January interview could even surpass the numbers generated by his loss to Mayweather, which holds the all-time pay-per-view record with more than 2.5 million buys.
“I’ve never been concerned about any fight breaking my record, except for this one,” said De La Hoya. “Now, I’m concerned. It’s a double-edged sword, because I’m still going to be involved in breaking a record, only this time, it’s going to be from outside of the ring.”
For Alvarez, the Mayweather fight — like the win over Trout — should continue to quell criticism that he has largely taken on undersized opponents such as Josesito Lopez and Alfonso Gomez, or past-their-prime and over-the-hill fighters such as former welterweight beltholder Kermit Cintron and three-division champ Sugar Shane Mosley.
Alvarez stopped Cintron in the fifth round in November of 2011 and defeated Mosley by unanimous decision last May.
On the other side, Mayweather stated that he was “giving the fans what they want” in challenging Alvarez. He announced the news himself on his Twitter account Wednesday night, naming the red-haired 154-pounder — a man who is 12 years younger than he is — as his next opponent.
Although Mayweather holds the WBA title at junior middleweight and is facing Alvarez at a catchweight of 152 pounds, he is, nevertheless, taking on a junior middleweight for only the third time in his career, the other besides De La Hoya being Miguel Cotto last May.
It could represent the toughest challenge yet for Mayweather, who will be fighting twice within the same year for the first time since 2007, when he defeated both De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, the latter by 10th-round stoppage for the first loss of Hatton’s career.
“Canelo is no Victor Ortiz. Canelo is no Marquez. You have to realize that Canelo’s 23 years old, and Miguel Cotto is how old? Miguel Cotto is a seasoned veteran. Meanwhile, Canelo is a seasoned young fighter who is not yet in his prime,” said De La Hoya.
“Canelo comes from the streets of Mexico, and you have to understand that, and he has bad intentions, let me tell you. This kid is a street guy who has bad intentions, so, you know, he lives to win. The question is, is Mayweather going to beat Canelo solely on experience? I would guess that I think not.”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com