For what seems like eons now, fight fans and media pundits have wanted undefeated superstar Floyd Mayweather to put his legacy on the line against the biggest and best opponent available.
From 2008-2012, the preeminent choice for this endeavor for almost everyone in the sporting world was Manny Pacquiao. But Juan Manuel Marquez ended that dream with one crushing right hand last December. Down there on the floor, where Pacquiao lay slumped over like a rag doll, is where our dream of a Mayweather superfight died.
Or so we thought.
Mayweather shocked the boxing world Wednesday night by announcing a Sept. 14 bout against WBC junior middleweight titlist Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
I chose my opponent for September 14th and it's Canelo Alvarez. I'm giving the fans what they want. It will be at the MGM Grand.— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) May 30, 2013
Make no mistake: This fight is huge. Mayweather’s legacy is on the line in this one—and for good reason. Canelo Alvarez will be the biggest and best threat Mayweather has faced in the ring since he defeated Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.
It’s absolutely unbelievable news for fight-hungry boxing fans everywhere, and they have Mayweather to thank for it.
Frankly, it’s a stark contrast to the Pacquiao shenanigans. Mayweather’s legacy simply has to have improved in the eyes of many just by agreeing to take the fight.
ESPN’s Dan Rafael reported the contract weight will be at 152 pounds. This gives the naturally smaller Mayweather a bit of room to grow while allowing the solid-framed Alvarez, who usually fights at 154, a reasonable target to hit as well.
The Mayweather-Canelo fight will be contested at a max weight of 152. #boxing— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) May 30, 2013
It’s a win-win for the fighters and boxing fans. Again, Mayweather does no disservice to his legacy in the move. If anything, coming up five full pounds to face Alvarez gives Mayweather even more shine.
Fight night will tell the tale, though. Against Alvarez, Mayweather will be facing an opponent who is absurdly larger than the diminutive champion.
At just 22 years old, Alvarez will likely fight in the future at 160 pounds and above. That’s 30 pounds heavier than where Mayweather started his career back in 1996.
Moreover, Alvarez is an accomplished professional who’s just now entering his prime. He’s got legitimate power in both hands, and he proved to be surprisingly adept at outboxing and out-thinking crafty southpaw Austin Trout last month in San Antonio.
Simply put, this is Mayweather’s best competition in ages, and Alvarez absolutely believes he will win the fight.
Should Mayweather win this fight, he’ll put to bed all suspicions that he was afraid to test himself against the very best opposition out there. Should he dominate Alvarez, he’ll prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he deserves to be considered one of the greatest fighters of this or any era.
And even if he should lose, Mayweather has an opportunity against Alvarez to show his stuff. Fight fans and boxing historians do not demand a fighter make it through a career unscathed. In fact, we demand the opposite.
We know what Mayweather looks like when he’s winning. It’s all he’s ever done. Perhaps Alvarez, then, can show us what he’s like when he’s losing. It is there we’ll see Mayweather’s legacy most clearly.