LAS VEGAS -- Canelo Alvarez was the right opponent for Floyd Mayweather Jr.
When trying to pinpoint what made this weekend the most successful in boxing since 2007, it might be as simple as that. Even before the fight started, it felt as though Alvarez had succeeded where many others failed, simply by convincing a certain portion of boxing fans that he had a chance.
Juan Manuel Marquez was, after all, far too small. Shane Mosley was too old. Miguel Cotto, thanks to losses against Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito, too beat up.
With Alvarez, though, the worst thing anyone could really say about him was that he was too young, which is hardly a terrible thing. True, he never possessed the boxing talent to really give Mayweather a run on Saturday, but he was intriguing nevertheless. Betting odds on Alvarez were the shortest on a Mayweather opponent in six years.
Now that Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) has so brilliantly and effortlessly turned Alvarez into win No. 45, the question to Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer becomes: Who is the next right opponent for Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
"At this point, it almost doesn't seem to matter," Schaefer said. "You could probably put the [heavyweight champion] Klitschko brothers in front of him and he would beat them too.
"I'm going to have to sit down with Floyd and his team. Whether it's going to be someone at 147, 154 or -- who knows? -- even 160 [pounds], we'll have to see what's out there and put together a big fight again."
The clear favorite to face Mayweather next, as of Saturday, is fellow Golden Boy Promotions fighter Danny Garcia, who picked a fight with a violent attack dog in Lucas Matthysse and surfaced with his unbeaten record still intact.
The unified 140-pound titleholder, Garcia (27-0, 16 KO) was once described on a fight broadcast as "not great at anything, but good at everything." That description rang true again Saturday, as he navigated his way through the difficult 12-round decision victory over arguably the biggest puncher in the division.
Garcia won't provoke the same amount of confidence in casual fans the way a Mayweather fight with Alvarez did, but his reputation as an unheralded, consistently underrated champion is as good a storyline as any for a Mayweather opponent.
Additionally, Garcia was refreshingly honest when asked of a potential Mayweather fight on Saturday, as opposed to being obnoxiously adamant about it, as most fighters would be in his position. His accomplishments speak for him.
"You know, I really don't know," Garcia said when asked about a potential fight with Mayweather next May. "At the end of the day, I'm just a fighter. I come to fight with heart and I give the fans what they want. If Golden Boy and [adviser] Al Haymon want it, I'll do it. It is what it is."
Another option would be the winner of a Dec. 7 welterweight title bout between Amir Khan and Devon Alexander. Neither of them would particularly instill confidence in the general public either, in terms of giving Mayweather a legitimate foe.
Khan (28-3, 19 KOs), who at one point stood very much poised to become boxing's next biggest star, seems like a fragile option. A bout with Khan would likely build more anticipation for Mayweather's first knockout victory in two years than it would a real threat to his undefeated record.
Fact is, despite being heavily criticized for handpicking opponents, Mayweather has reached a level at which, as Schaefer correctly points out, it doesn't seem to matter much who you put in front of him. In any case, the outcome is easily predictable.
With four fights remaining on the six-fight, 30-month deal Mayweather signed with Showtime and CBS this year, it's likely that Mayweather will face Garcia next May, probably at welterweight, and possibly Khan or Alexander in September.
Should he get through 2014 as easily as 2013, the hope will be that fans, media, history, Showtime and a general lack of opponents will force him into the type of challenge that many thought Alvarez was ready to provide -- whether that winds up being a fight against his protégé, Adrien Broner, finally negotiating a bout with Manny Pacquiao or a legitimate move up to 160 pounds.