This Saturday night at The Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas and televised live on Showtime, boxing fans worldwide will be treated to a rarity: two young, undefeated champions going head to head for supremacy in their weight class. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Austin Trout will look to put it on the line and prove to all that they are indeed the best fighter in the world at Junior Middleweight. Check out the keys to the fight for each fighter to come out victorious.
First up will be the breakdown of Greg Rowe, followed by the breakdown of Michael Samuels.
DEFENSE: This category, to most, is a clear advantage for Trout because of the way he uses his feet and upper body movement to avoid shots, while Alvarez uses his gloves to block punches and his size and offense as his best form of defense. All of these are true and will be displayed Saturday night. Trout is a natural defensive fighter who looks to counter off of his defense, while Alvarez looks to hurt you with everything he throws at you, and that could be a big factor in the fight. We haven't seen Canelo in the ring with a slick, crafty fighter in his prime yet, so it will be interesting to see if Canelo can find him consistently while avoiding Trout's shots and exposing himself in the process.
EXPERIENCE: Both fighters have fought fights against big name fighters on their way out the door, so this fight will be each fighter's first test against a young, strong opponent in his prime. Canelo has more "Big" names on his resume, as well as more professional fights, having turned pro at a younger age. These fights, however big the mismatch was at the time, have given Canelo big fight experience, big fight productions on the big stage against the likes of Mosley, Lopez, Cintron, Baldomir, Ndou, Gomez, Hatton and Jose Miguel Cotto, the younger brother of former champ Miguel Cotto. Trout, on the other hand, has very few big fights against big names on a national stage with only the names of Delvin Rodriguez and Miguel Cotto on his resume that most fight fans would know. Canelo has been brought up the right way and moved at a calculated and measured pace to arrive at this point, giving him the clear edge in experience.
CHIN: With both fighters not being hurt or really even hit that often throughout their careers, it is tough to judge just exactly how sturdy their beards are. We have seen Canelo get hit by guys who either used to be big punchers or could still crack, and he seemed to take them as he would a slight breeze to the face. Trout, because of his defense, doesn't get hit clean very often, but when we saw him touched by Miguel Cotto, who even though he isn't the same puncher at 154 that he was say at 140, could still punch, he seemed to take them well as he was never hurt. We will learn a bunch about each man's chin this Saturday, as we will see if Canelo can take as many shots from Trout as he is sure to take and can Trout take the shots from the hardest puncher he is sure to probably ever face at 154? Saturday, we will get a clear answer.
POWER: This is the clearest answer of all attributes in this fight. Trout is a guy that can hurt you if he catches you with the perfect shot, but he's more of a volume puncher as far as damage goes, so don't look for a one-punch knockout or even a one-two to put Canelo down on Saturday night because it won't happen. Canelo, on the other hand and as I previously stated, throws everything hard and with bad intentions, even his jab. He is one of the very few fighters in the sport that looks to take you out and do damage with every shot; others that quickly come to mind are Golovkin and Pacquaio. It's no secret Canelo, with his big, thick body, is going to look to go at Trout and break him down, punishing him in the process and looking to knock him out in devastating fashion. Question will be can he find Trout to do so as he hasn't seen anything like he will Saturday night. If the answer is yes, look for it to be in stunning fashion.
SPEED: Canelo is a fighter that, for being a big, bruising puncher, has pretty good speed and I think that is part of the reason he punishes guys; they don't expect the speed to be there with the power, as is the case. Trout is a pure boxer and has tremendous speed; it isn't light-years faster than Alvarez, but it is faster to the eye, as those who haven't seen Trout fight before will see Saturday night. Trout needs to use not only his hand speed to beat Canelo in this fight, but also his foot speed, in and out and side to side. Expect to see him letting his hands go in combination to try and establish distance and pace.
FINAL VERDICT: My heart tells me in a fight like this that it could end up being a letdown and a completely one-sided affair. Sometimes certain fighters are brought up in a manner that they can dominate washed up fighters and undersized fighters and be made to look like more of a killer than they really are. I do NOT think that is the case here, as I think Canelo Alvarez is the real deal. Canelo needs to do what he does, stay out of the danger zone, and walk Trout down while racking him with power shots, especially to the body, to try and slow down Trout for the later rounds. I feel Canelo will be able to use his big, strong body to walk through Trout's shots in the early going, but I feel that Trout's movement, boxing ability, and craftiness will give Canelo problems he has never had to deal with. Canelo is used to having his way and doing whatever he wants in the ring by using his big, powerful body to push guys around, take their will away, and slowly break them down. That will not be the case come Saturday night. I expect Trout to frustrate Canelo down the stretch after maybe a few scary moments early and bust Canelo's face up with combination punching while getting himself out of harm's way using angles and movement. The tides could turn late and we could see Trout take over and start backing Canelo up. Neither fighter has seen what they will see Saturday, but I feel that Trout's boxing ability will be the difference in this fight and see him through to a unanimous decision, but it will end up being a split decision because of where they are fighting and what may be on the line in the future for Canelo.
TROUT BY SPLIT DECISION
DEFENSE: If Saturday is your first glimpse of Austin Trout and you've seen plenty of Canelo Alvarez, don't be surprised if you notice a big difference in the defensive mind set of both fighters. Alvarez relies heavily on his offensive power, whereas Trout can box, fight, or simply use defense and put his offensive skills on cruise control. Alvarez can be hit and has been hit plenty over his young career. Some would say he has a bad habit of being too offensive minded, and in the process is there to be hit by guys who really have no business hitting him. At the same time, the kid is an undefeated rising star who will most certainly make a boat load of money over the next few years. If you have enough talent at a young age, you can get away with making mistakes defensively. So far, Canelo has fit that mold, but with Austin Trout, you are looking at a guy who actually has a chance to pull off the upset. Nobody has ever said that going into an Alvarez fight up to this point in his career. That in itself makes this fight very interesting when it comes to just how the defensive posture and positioning of both fighters should play out this weekend.
Trout will never be mistaken for Pernell Whitaker, but he certainly has the capability to look like "Sweet Pea" for one night against Alvarez. Even with a solid defensive background, it will be increasingly hard to frustrate Canelo over 12 rounds. Trout has the ability to show Canelo feints, exceptional footwork, and plenty of offensive versatility, all intangibles that could put him in the position to score the biggest win of his career. Regardless, the fight has to take place in the ring and not on paper. There's no denying Trout is superior here. What doubts is whether or not it will translate to victory.
EXPERIENCE: Both Austin Trout and Saul Alvarez turned professional in 2005, and despite Trout being five years older than Alvarez, it is "Canelo" who has 15 more fights under his belt. This isn't too surprising with Alvarez fighting strictly in Mexico and being prepped to be the saving grace of the country as a 15-year-old boy. Despite the edge in numbers, Austin Trout out boxed Miguel Cotto, who is by far and away better than anyone Canelo has faced in his career. That's not to say Alvarez doesn't beat Cotto, possibly in more impressive fashion. But from an experience standpoint, this one factor stands out.
Given their age and their opposition, it's not safe to assume either guy has an advantage in experience. Typically, these fighters look impressive when they fight. Alvarez has been hit plenty as a pro by less than quality fighters, but he has also made significant improvements with each fight, give or take a few. Trout put his name on the radar by outclassing Cotto, just one fight removed from boring people to death with a unanimous decision victory over Delvin Rodriguez. This is the biggest fight for both of the careers of Canelo and Trout, and each man is going to do everything to look impressive, hopefully to reach the plateau of Floyd Mayweather in September. With everything on the line, I'm not sure experience will play a vital role in the outcome.
POWER: Saul Alvarez doesn't do everything to textbook perfection, but the kid can punch. And when I say punch, I mean PUNCH. He carries 154 pounds extremely well and will obviously fight at a much higher weight as his body continues to mature with age. He is looking to seek and destroy and despite his youth, he understands the importance of body punching. We're not talking about tapping little jabs to the stomach, but rather Mickey Ward like enthusiasm to the liver over and over. If you're a fighter that has to take chances offensively to try to shadow a poor defensive craft, the chances of lasting 12 rounds with Alvarez are meek at best. Austin Trout can box, but he's no puncher. Not to say he's Paulie Malignaggi at 154 pounds, but rather he's just a solid boxer with good power that is nothing to write home about. He's going to move first, punch second. Alvarez is completely the opposite. It creates an interesting matchup, power aside. But this is pretty clear crystal clear, in fact.
SPEED: Trout isn't a master boxer, but he's growing on the masses with each performance. He isn't afraid to punch in combination or match his opponent's output during a fight, especially when he's forced to grind it out. His speed is very deceptive and accurate from either left or right hand. He's fast and he's pretty quick on his feet. Those are two tough things Canelo will have to deal with on Saturday.
Alvarez isn't a tortoise going against the hare, but he's far from as fast as Trout. Alvarez comes straight forward in most cases, doesn't use as much movement because he is rarely forced to use his feet or feints aside from pressing forward and attacking.
CHIN: Alvarez has a good chin. He's hardly been facing any crushing punchers, but the same can be said from Trout's perspective too. Alvarez needs a good chin because he comes straight forward and uses literally zero head movement. Often times, his head looks like a piñata waiving in the wind just waiting to get crushed by some six-year-old's stick. Saul Alvarez's jaw might not be proven against murderous punchers, but aside from taking shots early in his career, he is also very confident in the fact he has a good chin. He trusts it. He's willing to leave himself open because in his mind, he can take anything the opposing fighter throws his way.
Austin Trout's chin, until otherwise proven, is stable. He is better defensively than most people give him credit for and that helps him from taking unnecessary punishment unless he decides he needs to do something drastic to pull a fight out.
FINAL VERDICT: This is a compelling fight for so many reasons. Trout is the first opponent Alvarez will see who fight fans actually think can employ an effective game plan that revolves around boxing. Plenty of people believe the way to beat Alvarez is to put a solid boxer in front of him. Aside from the full-blooded Mexican population that would jump off a cliff if Canelo endorsed it, there are plenty of skeptics out there. Saturday will be the night Canelo proves quite a few people wrong. He will get hit, and hell, he may even be down a bit early in the fight, but the question Trout needs to answer is this: how will he react once he's hit, because he's going to get hit. Canelo isn't as seasoned as Cotto, but on the other side of that coin is the fact Canelo is much fresher. He is going to bring intense pressure to Trout, and once he feels Trout's power and realizes he's not going anywhere, watch out. Trout will show that he is a game fighter. Not only will he not be knocked out, but he will not retreat once he's hit. This means that he will take a lot of punishment through 12 rounds, but dish out plenty of his own too. Austin Trout basically has to go for broke in this fight. If he doesn't get the win via KO, he's not getting the win, period. There is too much money to be made with a possible Mayweather-Alvarez bout in September. A win by Trout will be great for his career, but it's unlikely he gets a chance at Mayweather should the pound for pound Picasso defeat Robert Guerrero on May 4th. Saturday night won't be easy, but it will be a quality win that Canelo so desperately needs to silence a few of his detractors. And Saturday night, he will get it done.
ALVAREZ BY SPLIT DECISION