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Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez could be next opponent for Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Mayweather, who beat Robert Guerrero on Saturday, has a fight scheduled for Sept. 14 in Las Vegas. Alvarez, the rising young star from Mexico, appears to be the front-runner for the bout.

May 06, 2013|By Lance Pugmire

LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather Jr. hasn't fought twice within a five-month period since 2006.

But after overwhelming Robert Guerrero by unanimous decision Saturday night, he's scheduled to return to the MGM Grand Garden Arena ring on Sept. 14.

"We're going to be back in September," Mayweather said following his victory.

The opponent of most interest is Mexico's Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, the unbeaten 22-year-old world super-welterweight champion who last month drew nearly 40,000 to San Antonio's Alamodome when he defeated previously unbeaten Austin Trout.

"From what we saw from Floyd, it's going to take someone very special to beat him — someone strong, physical and a redhead," fight promoter Richard Schaefer said in reference to Alvarez.

Given the current landscape, Alvarez ranks as the prohibitive front-runner as top choice for Mayweather over other options such as Devon Alexander or Danny Garcia.

However, the youngster from Mexico didn't garner much recognition from the welterweight champion who wants to maximize the split of purse money after collecting a guaranteed base of $32 million for fighting Guerrero.

"Canelo's a good fighter, but his fight against Trout was closer than it was scored; Trout was landing shots," Mayweather said. "I just came off a solid performance. I'm in a position to take some time off, rest, talk to my people. I'm not going to duck or dodge anyone.

"Most of all, I was happy with my performance tonight. Always when we take a long time off, I wonder, 'Do I still got it?' Tonight, I was the better man."

Employing a masterful performance of fast footwork, dodging and defensive awareness that was strengthened during his reunion with his father, Floyd Sr., as head trainer, Mayweather let Guerrero connect on only 19% (113 of 581) of his punches.

The 71-punch-per-round average Guerrero had in his two previous fights shrunk to 48 this time, and Mayweather's father reminded everyone that after a year off that included a nearly three-month jail term, "Floyd's back. The real Floyd.

"The display Floyd did today, it's going to be a problem for whoever's next."

According to some close to Mayweather, the strides he made in this training camp led him to feel encouraged about — and want — a matchup against Alvarez.

He'd have to make it official quickly, with fight promotion required to start by early June and training soon after.

Those boxing officials say they expect Alvarez to be the opponent as long as the financial split can be agreed upon.

The fighters had effectively agreed on a purse split for a September fight as they worked earlier this year to put Alvarez-Trout on the same card as Mayweather-Guerrero, Schaefer said.

But Mayweather wouldn't guarantee that Alvarez would be his September opponent, so Alvarez split to San Antonio.

Now that he has drawn that massive crowd by himself, his financial demands for a Mayweather bout will unquestionably increase.

Mayweather said he hurt his right hand against Guerrero when he sought a knockout in the middle rounds, but he expressed no concern that the injury would delay his fight plans.

He repeated his interest in fighting six times during his new 30-month deal with Showtime that started Saturday.

"Tonight was a steppingstone, we got five more fights," Mayweather said.

Saturday also featured strong performances by young Los Angeles fighters Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz.

Mares (26-0-1, 14 knockouts) claimed a world title in a third division in three years by moving to 126 pounds and taking the WBC featherweight belt from the bigger Daniel Ponce De Leon by ninth-round technical knockout.

Hawaiian Gardens' Mares said he'd like to equal the record of four world titles in four divisions by a fighter of Mexican heritage.

"Hopefully, I stole the show," said Mares, 27. "Boxing skills beat power, I proved it. I feel real comfortable at 126, and if my body feels good at 130, I'd give it a try.

"People were saying I'd be the smaller guy in this fight, and I knocked him out."

Lincoln Heights' Santa Cruz (24-0-1, 14 knockouts) won a fifth-round technical knockout in his super-bantamweight debut, pounding Alexander Munoz with body shots.

Schaefer said he'd be willing to consider a Mares-Santa Cruz fight.

"I wouldn't like to fight him because he's a good friend, but if the fans want it, that'd be great," Santa Cruz said.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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