Saul "Canelo" Alvarez has been a full WBC belt titleholder since 2011, when he crushed the younger brother of Ricky Hatton, Matthew, over 12 rounds in Anaheim, California. That bout was on HBO and televised to millions worldwide. It didn't come with the ringside gifts he received when he picked up the WBC Silver Belt -- essentially a toy, but, you know, it's boxing, so they love to hand out gifts. For that sixth-round TKO in 2010, he was given a horse by singer Vicente Fernandez during his post-fight interview, and another from the mayor of Tepic, Mexico.
But Canelo didn't really become a champion until he dominated his first legitimate contender -- a prime, undefeated Austin Trout, who had never been knocked down before this fight -- to unify the WBC and WBA belts.
Known for his power, Canelo displayed that and much more as he sought the WBA belt for his brother, whom Trout defeated to pick up the belt and earn the right to face Canelo. He attacked Trout with power shots and movement, displaying a higher level of precision and strategy than in previous bouts. This time, he couldn't skate by on his power alone, like the farce of a fight against Shane Mosley last May, and he showed the additional depth required to be a true champion.
Now that he is, only one challenge awaits: Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The fight should be easy to make because both fighters are Showtime affiliated and work with the same promoter. The only thing standing in the way of that fight is the same thing that stands in the way of any fight with Mayweather: whether Floyd feels like taking the fight.
Canelo has been after Floyd for a minute, even giving Floyd an ultimatum for this fight. He wanted a guaranteed shot at the pound-for-pound king for his fight to be on the Mayweather-Guerrero PPV undercard on May 4. Ultimatums don't sit well with Money May, so he passed. But Canelo proved he can hold his own in the ring, with the ratings and the crowd, and, soon, Floyd won't have a choice but to exchange fists with the Mexican redhead.
All of this discussion is technically premature, since Floyd still has to fight Robert Guerrero in a couple of weeks. Still, Floyd's very-public deal with Showtime, that keeps him on the network for his next six fights whether he wins or loses, virtually guarantees a showdown will come at some point.
And now that Canelo is a legit champ in his prime, and has the key distinction of actually wanting to fight Mayweather (Manny, we're looking at you here), boxing fans may finally get the explosive matchup of power vs. speed and foreign vs. American they have long craved.