Floyd Mayweather Jr. wasn't required to move up in weight to fight young star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
But when he did, he showed what kind of man he really is.
According to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, Mayweather will fight Alvarez at a catch weight of 152 pounds on September 14 at the MGM Grand. In effect, the natural welterweight is putting his perfect 44-0 record on the line against a natural 170-pounder who has true knockout power.
Make no mistake about it, this is the biggest fight boxing has to offer right now. No more hyping up a fight we know Mayweather is going to win (i.e. Mayweather vs. Guerrero, 2013). This fight doesn't need over-the-top promotion. It brings hype along with it.
More importantly, no more claims of Mayweather ducking fights, and I couldn't be happier about that. After the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fiasco, this is a breath of fresh air amid the unpleasant conditions that emanate from the politics of boxing. In fact, it's a breath of fresh air in so many ways.
Alvarez legitimately has the potential to be a threat to Mayweather. The 22-year-old's combinations have improved dramatically throughout the years, he has out-of-this-world power and he has even improved his head movement on defense, as exemplified against the dangerous Austin Trout in April.
Now, I'm not saying that Mayweather is going to lose this bout, even against the powerful Alvarez, but this is certainly no easy fight, especially for a 36-year-old. Mayweather deserves a ton of credit for agreeing to this fight.
You may say that Mayweather would have officially been "ducking" if he didn't agree to this fight, but honestly, he shouldn't be required to fight the much bigger Alvarez. Mayweather is a classic welterweight. He always has been. For him to step out of his comfort zone with his undefeated record at risk, that deserves a tremendous amount of respect. Mayweather has always been an entertainer, but this is the first time he has truly put himself in a precarious position to give the fans what they want.
Even if Mayweather loses this fight, he should be applauded. He could have ridden off into the sunset and never looked back and people would have still called him one of the greatest, if not the greatest boxer of his generation. The fact that he's willing to risk how people view him in the ring against Alvarez is a testament to the man himself.
One thing's for sure: When Mayweather hangs up his gloves for good, he will have not only earned a sterling record, but he will also have earned a level of respect that lasts much longer than an undefeated record ever could.