In the featured undercard spot on the Mayweather vs. Cotto card is a clash between one of the brightest young stars in the sport of boxing, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, and the faded but still recognizable "Sugar" Shane Mosley. It's not the best fight in the world from a competition standpoint as Mosley has shown little ability to be competitive since his shocking beating of Antonio Margarito, but the idea behind the matchmaking is to get Alvarez a big win over a big name on a big platform.
Sporting red hair, which earned him his nickname as "Canelo" is Spanish for "Cinnamon," and a 39-0-1 record despite only being 21 years of age, Alvarez has become a huge star for Mexican fans. He and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. represent the big name boxers the country needs as Eric Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez and their generation slide closer to hanging up their gloves. Canelo is likely the best hope for long term success, being of a higher quality than JCC Jr., and not having already picked up a similar positive post-fight drug test.
Since Oscar De La Hoya took the liberty of "announcing" the fight on Twitter by saying "Sugar vs. Cinnamon," (something not too surprising given that he once hyped up Mayweather/Mosley by saying Shane "sprinkles 'sugar' all over everybody") the match-up has felt lame. No one with experience around boxing truly feels that the 2012 version of Shane Mosley is a threat to hand the young star his first loss. But that's ultimately not the end game here.
Alvarez's name was originally bandied about as a potential Mayweather opponent for Saturday's date around the time when it was clear that Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao was not going to happen. Canelo is promoted by Oscar's Golden Boy Promotions, who have taken the official promotional duties for Mayweather's bouts since his 2007 win over De La Hoya. It made for a profitable match-up on paper, especially given the date. Putting Floyd against a Mexican superstar with a passionate fanbase on Cinco De Mayo seemed like an ATM of an idea.
Ultimately, Cotto was available and still represents the third biggest draw in the sport. It's also debatable how much longer that will remain the case. So once they were able to get Cotto signed on for the date, also eliminating him as an option for Pacquiao's next fight, it pushed Canelo into the Mosley fight.
A win by both Floyd and Alvarez will likely set the wheels into motion for a late 2012 or early 2013 fight between the two men. De La Hoya said at the presser yesterday "those would be the plans in the near future," and I'm sure near future means post-Mayweather's jail time and post-another round of pretending Floyd vs. Manny might really happen this time.
I'll gladly watch Floyd take on young, hungry fighters in bouts that will draw money and work to build the next generation of stars. A loss for Canelo at 21 or 22 isn't going to be something that destroys him, if he's competitive, he'll come out of the fight an even bigger star.
Of course, this is boxing, and the most obvious plans can be wrecked by a single punch. Maybe Mosley is going to have something to say about his status as a stepping stone.
...but probably not.