Junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is only 21 and just beginning to come into his own. Yet even before he won a world title 14 months ago, he and his team talked about his one day facing the great Floyd Mayweather Jr.
With each passing fight, that scenario appears to come closer and closer to fruition.
In September, Alvarez stopped Alfonso Gomez in the sixth round to retain his title at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Although the bout was the main event inside the arena, television viewers around the world watched the fight just before the main event of the telecast from Las Vegas -- Mayweather's fourth-round knockout of Victor Ortiz.
Now Alvarez is co-starring again on a Mayweather card, and this time they will be in the same building -- one step closer to a probable meeting.
While Mayweather, a welterweight champion, moves up to junior middleweight to challenge Miguel Cotto for his piece of the 154-pound title in the main event of the card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET), Alvarez will defend his version of the title against Shane Mosley, the former champ and onetime Mayweather victim, in the co-feature on Cinco De Mayo.
It seems like just a matter of time until Alvarez and Mayweather, both significant favorites Saturday, fight each other.
"Well, it's definitely something we have to sit down and talk about after May 5," said Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya, who represents Alvarez. "Those would be the plans in the near future."
When De La Hoya was fighting, he was the pay-per-view king. In 2007, he lost his junior middleweight title to Mayweather in the biggest-selling pay-per-view in history. With nearly 2.5 million buys, it blew away the previous record of just a hair less than 2 million.
De La Hoya believes a fight between Mayweather -- whose pay-per-views regularly exceed 1 million buys -- and Alvarez, Mexico's most popular fighter, would do humongous business.
"I actually would be biting my nails," De La Hoya said, "because that fight can get close to my fight with Floyd Mayweather."
Alvarez had hoped he would be standing across the ring from Mayweather on Saturday, but Cotto -- boxing's third-biggest pay-per-view attraction behind Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao -- got the nod.
Alvarez (39-0-1, 29 KOs) took it in stride. He figures his time will come.
"No, no, no, the bout doesn't bother me at all," Alvarez said through a translator about being on Mayweather's undercard. "Floyd Mayweather, he's on the throne. He decides, and he can decide right now because he is at the top. He's pound for pound the best fighter in the world, and all we have to do is keep working hard, keep winning our fights, and that is my goal -- to fight the best fighters in the world, but one at a time."
Many expect Alvarez to dominate Mosley (46-7-1, 39 KOs), a former three-division champion. Mosley is 40 and has looked woefully bad in his past three fights. He was routed in a near-shutout decision loss to Mayweather, settled for a surprising draw with Sergio Mora and then was throttled by Pacquiao. Mosley spent more time trying to touch gloves with Pacquiao than he did throwing punches. At least against Mayweather, Mosley had a big moment in the second round, when he rocked him and nearly knocked him down.
Alvarez just wants to win convincingly and move on to a bigger fight, perhaps against Mayweather.
"We're working very hard so that the people leave very convinced that I am the winner and that I am ready for bigger and better things," he said. "I have something Shane wants, and I want something he has. He wants my belt, but I want his experience."
It's possible a Mayweather-Alvarez fight could come as soon as September if both win Saturday. Although Mayweather reports to jail for an 87-day sentence June 1, he said he intends to fight again in the fall. Golden Boy has penciled in Alvarez's next fight for Sept. 15, which is Mexican Independence Day weekend and a usual date for a major pay-per-view.
Although Mayweather didn't specifically talk about a fight with Alvarez, it would be his obvious biggest fight, given that a Pacquiao bout seems so unlikely.
"I want to stay active; I want to fight again in 2012 before the year is up," Mayweather said. "I want to constantly go out there and test my skills, and I want to continue to just push myself to the limit."
Mosley would like to throw a wrench into the plans. But his biggest problem in the three recent poor outings was a lack of activity. He simply couldn't pull the trigger to fire punches the way he once did at such a blistering pace.
Alvarez said, however, that he isn't viewing Mosley as a shot fighter.
"I'm very motivated because I am fighting a fighter of Shane Mosley's caliber," said Alvarez, who is a Mosley fan. "When I was coming up in boxing, I used to watch a lot of videos to pick up stuff from him, to learn from him. So today, to now be fighting him is a dream come true, and I know once inside the ring, there's going to be some obstacles and it's going to be difficult at times. But I have no doubt that we're going to go out and be the winner.
"Many people are saying that I'm the big favorite, but I can't underestimate a fighter like Shane Mosley. I am confident of my conditioning, of my training, of the camp I've had, but not of the opponent. I'm going to be very wary, very smart in taking my punches, but very, very confident that he's coming in at his best. I'm looking forward to fighting the best Shane Mosley ever."
That might be a stretch considering Mosley's recent fights. But Mosley claims the reason for his pitiful performance against Pacquiao was he entered the fight with an Achilles tendon injury. Perhaps that's why he moved so slowly and had to be convinced to continue fighting by trainer Naazim Richardson when he tried to quit between rounds late in the fight.
Mosley, of course, told everybody that he felt great going into the Pacquiao fight, and he is doing the same for Alvarez. So should folks believe him?
"Well, I mean, it's up to them to make that decision -- if they want to believe me or not," Mosley said. "When they go to the betting odds and they put their money down and they bet, just know that I warned you.
"There is a lot to be said about being 100 percent healthy leading up to a fight. Come [Saturday], I will be ready. I am sticking to my game plan, and using the doubters and naysayers that are out there as my motivation to work hard."
Mosley knows he is being counted out by nearly everybody and that he was given the fight as a way for Alvarez to score a big name for his résumé.
"The haters are what keep me motivated," Mosley said. "Domination is on my mind. I want to be the best I can be and showcase my strengths. I feel young, but I have the wisdom of an older fighter. Canelo will be surprised when he's not fighting the 40-year-old he thinks I am.
"Some media members might be overlooking me because of my age. I'm considered an underdog. I like being the underdog and proving people that I am not. I'm not going to rule the fight; I'm going to dominate. I will be the first fighter to beat Canelo."
If Mosley does pull it off, well, there goes Mayweather-Alvarez in the process.