LAS VEGAS -- In September, Canelo Alvarez was an undefeated champion. Just a few months earlier he had scored the biggest victory of his career in a title unification match with Austin Trout in front of some 40,000 at the sold-out Alamodome in San Antonio.
Some in Alvarez's camp opposed his pressing for the fight with Trout, but he made them eat their words with a big victory. Those were good times.
Alvarez was as hot as any fighter in boxing. He was an undefeated, unified champion getting the job done inside the ring, and as Mexico's most popular active fighter, he had a massive fan base who cheered his every move.
At 23, Alvarez was on top and his future was very, very bright. Now it is at least mildly cloudy.
He is no longer undefeated, no longer the owner of two world title belts and, regardless of what he says, most likely filled with doubts.
Floyd Mayweather Jr., the pound-for-pound king, took the youngster to school. He stripped Alvarez of his unbeaten status and his belts in a one-sided clinic Sept. 14 in what was the biggest money fight in boxing history.
The fight broke all kinds of records, including biggest pay-per-view gross ($150 million) and biggest live gate ($20 million). The fight also sold 2.2 million pay-per-view units, second-most in history behind Mayweather's showdown with Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.
Now Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KOs) finds himself in a precarious position -- the comeback fight against a dangerous puncher, 31-year-old Mexican countryman Alfredo Angulo (22-3, 18 KOs), knowing that a second consecutive loss would be debilitating. It would set Alvarez back immensely in terms of his future title aspirations and marketability. In other words, the Canelo brand would be badly wounded.
That is the kind of pressure Alvarez finds himself under as he prepares to face Angulo -- himself also looking to rebound from a 10th-round TKO loss to Erislandy Lara in June -- when they meet in a scheduled 12-round bout that headlines Golden Boy's "Toe To Toe" card Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., the same site as Alvarez's fight with Mayweather.
"I'm just looking forward to getting back in the ring and getting back on that victory road," Alvarez said.
But what if he loses again?
"This is a very significant fight for Canelo because if he would lose, I think it would be a major step back," Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer said. "It would be more than just a loss. With Mayweather, it was a loss, but in a way it was sort of like, you're 23 years old, you learn, and everybody lost against Mayweather, including his Mexican compatriot Juan Manuel Marquez, who lost every second of every round and still had the biggest fights ahead of him. But this one here, if you go and lose against Angulo, in a way it would be devastating.
"It would be a big setback. A lot of the fans would support him, but it would have implications. He knows he must win."
Publicly, at least, Alvarez seems to be saying all the right things about the Mayweather fight and what went wrong.