This Saturday Night: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs Austin Trout

We are a day away from seeing what is arguably the most competitive, high-level boxing fight on the 2013 schedule. The top two titlist at 154 lbs will be putting their WBC and WBA titles on the line for a huge unification clash at San Antonio’s Alamodome. To those that are old enough to remember, that same venue was the site for Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. vs Pernell Whitaker and the WWF Royal Rumble (1997). I still regret missing the latter but that’s another story.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (40-0-1) had a case of bad luck in 2012. Not in terms of anything that happened to him inside el cuadrilátero (the ring). He easily beat a past his prime Shane Mosley and destroyed Josesito Lopez. The body shots that he nailed Lopez with were full of vigor and nastiness.

But his quest to fight boxers like Paul Williams and Victor Ortiz all fell through for one reason (motorcycle accident) or another (a broken jaw TKO loss). By the time Austin Trout (26-0) defeated Miguel Angel Cotto (who was set to fight Canelo in 2013) at MSG, it didn’t take long for people to start talking about la maldición de Canelo (the Canelo curse) – an obviously silly but entertaining talking point.

After Trout’s stunning victory over Cotto, Richard Shaefer immediately went to the media to proclaim that Canelo vs Cotto “was still an option”. It was absurd, I (along with so many other fans and writers) argued that Trout deserved the shot against the red-headed Mexican superstar. Super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward was pretty upset about the situation on Twitter.

“Austin Trout fought and won on [Saturday] night,” tweeted Andre Ward. “But he potentially has to wait or possibly never [fight] Canelo. That’s not right!!”

Thankfully, Canelo had his eyes set on obtaining legitimate boxing credentials. At this point, he’s probably tired of hearing people criticize his resume and he wasn’t going to win any critics over by taking on Cotto. “Yo quiero Trout o nada,” is what I imagine Canelo demanded from Golden Boy Promotions. I admire that he actively pursued a tougher fight while being pressured by his promoters to take on an easier, ‘star’ opponent.

So far, it’s paid off. The fans have recognized Canelo and the fight as being something special; there have been over 35,000 tickets sold for the show so far. But will the option to fight against a slick, southpaw work out in the ring?

It’s going to be a tough fight on both ends. If you’re rooting for Canelo, you should be hoping that he has worked on his defense since his last pelea. In-between Canelo’s big power punches, Lopez was landing some decent combinations. They didn’t have the power to do any actual damage pero the fact that the golpes were connecting could mean dos cosas. The first thing it could suggest is that Canelo needs to work on his defensive skills since Trout isn’t a junior-welterweight. But the other conclusion that can be drawn from that is that perhaps, Canelo wasn’t worried about Lopez’s power and thus didn’t feel the need to defend those combinaciones. He’s going to have to display some sharp defensive skills this Saturday night.

On Trout’s end, he’s going to have to make it very clear that he’s winning the rounds. In the past, Canelo has had low output in the first round, so I can see Trout winning that first frame convincingly. But the other rounds will really tell us what each man is capable of. Trout should try to stay in movement and not get stationary. The last thing he wants is to allow Canelo to land some golpes con animo. Also, for his sake, it’s probably not a bright idea to get suckered into a reckless exchange.

I think that years from now we’re going to look back at this fight as a pivotal moment in the careers of both fighters. Con toda la emoción y the stakes that are on the line, It’s going to be an evening that I’ll never forget.

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