The bout may not be scheduled yet, but the Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez vs. Miguel Ángel Cotto fight is definitely happening, and it’s happening soon – at least in boxing terms, which would mean anything less than one year from now.

Here’s why:

After this month’s over-hyped Pacquiao-Mayweather match, fans and sports analysts alike were hugely disappointed to see that Manny wasn’t able to deliver on his aggressive style against Floyd. Instead, the Fight of the Century was just another Mayweather performance: hit – but not too hard – and don’t get hit. Still, the PPV numbers – 4.4 million buys at $99.99 – proved that the demand is out there for an exciting match up. And watching Canelo dominate James Kirkland the following week simply confirmed people’s love for the sport. Alvarez’s devastating K.O. had fans and commentators going crazy.

“Who’s next?,” Canelo was asked during the ring interview. “Miguel Cotto,” he said. And, eventually, Gennady Golovkin.

Miguel Cotto

 

After Mayweather-Paquiao, there is no bigger boxing match up than Miguel Cotto vs Canelo Alvarez. It seems like an obvious choice for both fighters – they’d not only stand to make a lot of money, but also get an opportunity to put a new big win on their boxing record. But even though it may seem like a no-brainer, the boxers will have to jump through some hurdles, and maybe even some boxers, before it can go down.

Floyd Mayweather is scheduled to fight on September 12th, a big boxing date that falls close to Mexican Independence Day (Sept 16). Even though Canelo’s manager has stated that they want to take the date away from Mayweather, this is very, very, unlikely to happen. Also, Cotto will be fighting in June, which would give him little time to train for a September fight. This means we could be looking at Cotto/Canelo by the end of 2015 (November-December). Of course, this can only happen if Miguel Cotto beats Daniel Geale, an Australian fighter who has won some tough fights (for example, against Felix Sturm).

Another possibility, is a May 7th Cotto/Canelo fight; with Mayweather retired (supposedly) by this point, it would be the perfect symbolic opportunity for Canelo to reclaim the important Mexican date. A win over Cotto would undoubtedly make Canelo the new face of boxing.

If the fight is signed for May, Canelo would probably face another –much lesser known – opponent in September. Canelo’s options however, are very grim, mostly due to the lack of familiar faces in his weight division. Having already defeated very tough division opponents, like Kirkland, Austin Trout, El Perro Angulo, and Erislandy Lara, there would be few valid options for Canelo’s fight in September.

A fight against Gennady Golovkin would be an amazing fight for the fans, but not so much for promoters. Triple G is probably the most avoided boxer today. After knocking out Willie Monroe Jr. during his last fight, GGG called out Canelo in the post-fight interview. With a record of 32-0 (29 KO) and 19 consecutive fights winning via knockout, it’s practically impossible for Canelo to face him before a fight with Miguel Cotto – but one can always dream.

Gennady Golovkin

Demetrius Andrade would be a very interesting opponent for Canelo. Still undefeated (21-0), Andrade was one of the favorites to win the 2008 Olympics, but suffered a controversial loss in the quarterfinals. Although this would give Canelo an opportunity to fight for the WBO championship held by Andrade, the reward doesn’t seem worth the risk of losing to a slick, yet pretty unknown fighter. Cornelius “K9” Bundrage took the IBF title from Mexican boxer Carlos Molina last October. Unlike Andrade, K9 would probably not be a great risk for Canelo. Bundrage is remembered for having participated in the Contender reality-TV series on ESPN, where he was a fan favorite and took 3rd place, and although he seems to be making a comeback at the age of 42, Canelo would probably get criticized for fighting “an old man.”

Right: Cornelius Bundrage

 

Jermell Charlo is also one of the top contenders in the 154-pound division, but like Andrade, he is too unknown yet quite skilled, which translates to big risk and little reward. Gabriel Rosado would be a very fan friendly fight; power punches, blood, knockdowns –think Kirkland. But Rosado comes from several losses, so it is unlikely this could happen.

David Lemieux was the Canadian Canelo until he suffered two consecutive losses against Miguel El Veneno Rubio and Joaquim Alcime in 2011. Lemieux is making a great comeback and has victories over decent opponents such as Fernando Guerrero and Gabriel Rosado. Although he is big in Canada, especially in Quebec, he is quite unknown in the United States and Mexico.

Bottom line: although there are several decent opponents that Canelo could fight in the 154 and 160-pound divisions, none will bring the fan interest, money, and recognition that the fight against Miguel Cotto will.  And if he were to choose any of the others contenders, Canelo would probably be accused of cherry picking (again) by casual boxing fans.

So for all these reasons, I am convinced – and amped –that Cotto-Canelo is definitely happening.