- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Some have compared the junior middleweight title unification fight between Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Austin "No Doubt" Trout to the 1999 battle between then-titlist Fernando Vargas and Winky Wright, who would later become the undisputed 154-pound champion.
But as Alvarez and Trout fine tune themselves for their showdown on April 20 (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya compared it to one of his fights during Alvarez's media day on Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif.
"This reminds me of when I beat Ike Quartey," De La Hoya said of his memorable 1999 welterweight title defense. "Although I did have all the admirers and the fans, I needed that one win to solidify me as a great champion. This is [Alvarez's] one moment, but he has his work cut out for him. Austin Trout is the real deal. He's no joke, but if you want to beat the best you have to fight the best. I've said that throughout my whole career."
Indeed, De La Hoya fought the best opponents fight in and fight out and never ducked anyone before announcing his retirement in 2009 after winning 10 world titles in a then-record six weight classes.
"This is going to be a very physical fight," De La Hoya said. "Austin Trout is legitimate. He is undefeated. He is strong. I think that whoever wins this fight is going to shoot up like a star and go to the next level. It's a tough fight for both. I expect a really, really tough fight.
"What I see is the potential for whoever wins this fight to be a superstar. Not just a star or just a champion, but a superstar. Canelo is on the right path and April 20 is going to show us if he's able to make that jump. Canelo's destiny is in his own hands and it's up to him to win the fight."
The co-feature is a scheduled 10-round lightweight fight between prospects Omar Figueroa Jr. (20-0-1, 16 KOs) of Weslaco, Texas and Puerto Rico's Abner Cotto (16-0, 7 KOs), who is Miguel Cotto's cousin.
Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs), the 22-year-old Mexican star, has solid motivation to win -- besides just unifying titles -- and knows that Trout is a tricky customer that he will have to fight smartly.
"The more intelligent fighter is going to win on April 20," Alvarez said. "We've mapped out a game plan and we'll stick to it. I've looked back at some of my past fights and I'm critical of how I've performed. I've taken criticism, but all criticism is constructive and I'm taking it all in."
The additional motivation for Alvarez comes because Trout (26-0, 14 KOs), 27, of Las Cruces, N.M., won a vacant title in Mexico in 2011 by easily outpointing Rigoberto Alvarez, Canelo's older brother.
"Because he beat my brother and took his belt, this fight has more meaning," Alvarez said. "It's personal because he took something from us. After I win this fight, I'm going to get that belt and I'm going to give it to my brother."
Alvarez figures to be the huge crowd favorite in San Antonio, where a heavily Mexican crowd will be on hand. Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer said that as of Tuesday 32,334 tickets had been sold with just 134 scattered tickets remaining.
"I'm really excited for the San Antonio fans, as well as all the Mexican fans who will be there supporting me," Alvarez said. "I'm hoping I can give them a great fight. The key for me is patience. I know he'll be ready for me at all times. It's going to be a complicated fight, but I'm prepared for it."
The fight will be the biggest in San Antonio since the notorious 1993 welterweight championship fight between Pernell Whitaker and Julio Cesar Chavez, which was ruled a draw despite Whitaker's apparent domination. That decision ranks with the most controversial in boxing history.
"I think San Antonio is a great fight town. The fans there have been asking for a great fight," De La Hoya said. "They haven't had a big fight there since Chavez-Whitaker. I fought there, but they haven't had a big, big world championship fight in some time."
Now they have one. Let's just hope if it goes to the judges, they get it right this time.