Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was being hailed as the new Mexican sensation a year ago when he was unbeaten after 42 bouts and preparing for a showdown with Floyd “Money” Mayweather.
Totally outclassed in a 12 rounder against the Money Man, Alvarez has been rebuilding his career since, and on Saturday he took another step toward redemption with a controversial split points decision over Cuban hardman Erislandy Lara in a junior-middleweight bout.
Alvarez did not resemble the machine that destroyed Alfredo Angulo four months ago, but his body punching and aggression edged the verdict.
A furious Lara lost for only the second time in 21 bouts, and backed by his trainer, the legendary Ronnie Shields, they demanded a rematch.
They had a point but commercially nobody but the Lara camp want it. He is just too dangerous, but having virtually no fan base and TV marketing value as a non-English speaking southpaw, there is little hope of a return.
Alvarez has newly crowned middleweight champion Miguel Cotto in his sights but that is for next year. In the meantime, Alvarez is likely to face James Kirkland in December. Kirkland has only lost once in 33 bouts and has 28 knockouts to his name. Lara’s evasive, crabby style was not entertaining, but Kirkland is relatively easy to hit and is more suited to Alvarez who likes to stand toe to toe and brawl it out in typical Mexican style.
Alvarez turns 24 on Friday and hopes to fill the void of boxing’s premier attraction when Mayweather bows out at the end of next year.
The pound-for-pound king is preparing for a rematch with Marcos Maidana for the unified welterweight championship at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on Sept. 13, Mayweather 10th consecutive fight there.
It is another headliner of a Showtime pay-per-view card, the fourth bout of Mayweather’s six-fight deal worth over $200 million.
Mayweather only won by majority decision against the brawling Argentine two months ago and was pressed all the way. At least it was not like many dull Money bouts over the years. It was the closest he got to losing that cherished perfect record which stands at 46-0.
Mayweather had few options anyway because Briton’s Amir Khan is not available and a bout with Manny Pacquiao is still not feasible given all the issues that would have to be surmounted.
Mayweather remains with Golden Boy Promotions although he declared he was leaving them immediately after the Maidana bout.
A five-city tour to promote the fight kicked off on Monday with news conferences in New York and Washington, D.C. They were in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon, San Antonio on Tuesday evening and will be in Los Angeles on Thursday.