Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez might be the most exciting up-and-comer in boxing today. At only 22 years old he is already being mentioned in the same breath as the sport’s elite, and if his recent negotiations with Floyd Mayweather Jr. are any indication, he has a number of high-profile bouts waiting just around the corner.
When an athlete experiences a lot of success really early in their career, there is a natural tendency to not appreciate that success the way it should be appreciated. It happens in every sport, and boxing is no exception. While Alvarez has always been regarded as a modest, reasonable guy, a recent interview he did gave off the impression that maybe he was beginning to take his good fortune for granted just a little bit.
About a month ago, Alvarez was one of about three names that everyone linked to Mayweather’s next match. Mayweather ultimately ended up scheduling a bout with Robert Guerrero for this May, however, the details of why that deal came together had never really fully been explored. As it turns out, Alvarez didn’t wait for Mayweather’s final decision.
“There were negotiations in December where they said I would fight on May 4th in order to face him on September 14th, Mexican Independence Day [weekend]. Unfortunately, he was saying this; he was saying that but nothing was concrete. So today, I came to see [Golden Boy CEO] Richard [Schaefer] and Oscar [De la Hoya] at the office and we finalized my fight against Austin Trout because he never kept his word,” Alvarez told Doghouse through a publicist. “I think he was making me wait the last couple of weeks because he had other intentions. That's what I think but like I said, I have so many options where I can do my own thing.
“Now I have the fight against Trout on April the 20th, which is going to be a great thing.”
Mayweather was likely using Alvarez as leverage in negotiations with Guerrero, sort of the way he used Devon Alexander, but that doesn’t mean Alvarez needed to rush into the Trout match. Trout wanted to fight Alvarez, and he would have waited any amount of time to get a final answer. Hastily rejecting a potential fight against Mayweather just to secure a bout that would have been waiting for him no matter what doesn't seem like a particularly smart move.
Similarly, in that same Doghouse interview, Alvarez expressed very little concern about the fact that his planned September match will coincide with when Manny Pacquiao is due to fight. He thinks his event, against whomever, will do better than Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez V. Why chance it, though? There are exactly two fighters who draw major PPV audiences in boxing: Mayweather and Pacquiao. If getting a massive amount of buys is as easy as avoiding fighting on the same date as them, why not just do that?
All in all, Alvarez seems like a good guy and boxing’s clear cut Next Big Thing. But it’s going to be really important for him to know his role and play the game correctly until he finally takes his seat at the head of the table.