To be or not to be, that is the question.
The “Bard of Avon,” William Shakespeare, was quite right on that one, wasn’t he? That is usually the question. In this case, of course, fans are wondering if undefeated junior middleweight slugger Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will be (or not be…) ready to face Floyd Mayweather should the opportunity present itself in September.
Most pundits say he won't be.
Bleacher Report’s Kevin McRae believed it was borderline ludicrous to suggest the 22-year-old was ready for such a stiff test just last October.
There is absolutely nothing on Alvarez's resume that indicates he is ready to take the physical and mental jump and get in there with a man considered to be one of the best pure boxers in the history of the sport.
Since then, Alvarez has notched two wins. He overpowered the naturally smaller Josesito Lopez in October, and then unified the WBC and WBA 154-pound title belts in a decision win over Austin Trout in April.
Not bad for a youngin, but did Canelo learn enough during those two encounters to make him think he can wrestle away the top-dog mantle from boxing’s pound-for-pound best?
Juan Manuel Marquez doesn’t think so.
In a discussion with Boxing Scene’s Ryan Burton, Marquez said he thought Canelo was a few fights away from being seasoned enough in the science to beat someone like Mayweather. He should know. In 2009, Mayweather dominated the Mexican superstar like no one had done before.
A fight against Mayweather would be very difficult for Canelo Alvarez because of Mayweather's style. I think that Canelo needs a few more fights against fighters similar to Floyd Mayweather before he is ready but there aren't any fighters even close to Mayweather right now in boxing. It would be very tough for Canelo.
Sportswriter Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram concurs. When he watched Alvarez slip past Trout in San Antonio in April, he saw a fighter just a bit too green for a stalwart like Floyd “Money” Mayweather.
At this stage, however, Canelo's timing is off to actually defeat Mayweather. His conditioning isn't quite there, and he leaves himself wide open to counter attack. By the time he would be ready to win this type of fight Money (36) will be washed up.
It should be noted, though, that Engel might be a bit off-base in at least part of his assessment. While conventional wisdom before the bout assumed Alvarez would be easy for Trout to counterpunch, the exact opposite proved to be the case.
According to Compubox, Trout landed a measly 20 percent of his punches overall in the bout, while Alvarez connected on a solid 43 percent of his own. To be competitive against Mayweather, Alvarez would need to land at a similar or better percentage while limiting Mayweather’s historically lofty connect percentages at the same time.
Where all else fails, he’d need to be able to land something big, and that just might be where the potential matchup might get a bit more interesting.
Alvarez is a legit 154-pounder. Mayweather has fought twice at the weight, each against older fighters whose best days were in lighter weight classes. And both men, Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto, did their best work in the welterweight division and below, making Alvarez the largest and perhaps most powerful punching opponent Mayweather would have ever been in the ring against.
The Sweet Science’s Frank Lotierzo concurs on the possible size advantage for Canelo. Still, he thinks Mayweather would be wise to get the young Mexican in the ring as soon as possible, whether he’s truly ready or not.
It's smart business and management for Mayweather to get to Alvarez before he reaches the zenith of his full potential. Because right now most everyone sees "Canelo" as the next great fighter on the horizon. If Mayweather beats him now he'll get the credit for beating a young fighter in his prime who most saw as having unlimited potential. And if Alvarez never becomes much after he loses to Mayweather, it'll be Floyd who will be seen as the one who derailed him and ruined his future.
Let’s be real, though. Mayweather isn’t exactly known for taking risks. It’s just not his style, whether he’s in the ring displaying the premier defense in the game today, or outside of it planning his next move.
Mayweather manages risk better than anyone in the sport.
Perhaps there, then, is the answer. If Mayweather takes a less lucrative bout against the likes of Amir Khan or Devon Alexander, maybe he sees more danger in Canelo Alvarez than he wants to take on just yet in only his second bout with Showtime.
And if he indeed takes the proposed September showdown, maybe he sees what the rest of us see in Canelo: a good, young fighter the absolutely brilliant Mayweather should probably be able to out-fox and out-box over 12 close rounds.
So says Michael Woods of ESPNNewYork.com.
In any event, Ole Shakespeare hit the nail on the head anyway. To be or not to be? That is the question, fight fans. That is the question.