In selecting Saul "Canelo" Alvarez as his opponent in what will be his 45th career fight, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is silencing critics and detractors by taking this massive but refreshing risk.
It wasn't even necessarily the choice Mayweather had in mind, but his loyal legion of fans influenced him enough to make the marquee bout a reality on September 14, as he noted on Twitter in breaking the news himself:
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
Mayweather has an unblemished mark of 44-0. Even a nearly yearlong hiatus from the ring, which included a stint in prison, didn't prevent him from dominating Robert Guerrero in a unanimous 12-round decision. While Guerrero is a stellar fighter, it was clear he had no chance against the likes of Money May earlier this month.
This upcoming fight is going to be far better promoted and easier to appeal to a larger audience because of the name recognition and record of success Alvarez brings to the table.
Who poses the greatest threat to Mayweather's undefeated mark?
Alvarez, the dynamic, 22-year-old Mexican who is the reigning light middleweight champion in the WBC and will fight Mayweather for the WBA title, is 42-0-1 in his own illustrious career.
As technically sound and brilliantly crafty as Mayweather is in the ring, he will have his work cut out for him against an explosive fighter That's a substantial increase in quality of competition, and it's the first time in over six years Mayweather will take on an undefeated counterpart.
ESPN Stats & Info highlights how that hasn't been much of a problem in the past for Mayweather—his prior opponents haven't made it the full 12 rounds:
Floyd Mayweather's fight vs Canelo Alvarez will be his 3rd vs undefeated opponent. Previous 2 (Hatton/Corrales) both ended in 10th rd TKO.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 30, 2013
While this matchup will require Mayweather to pack on some extra pounds, due to Alvarez's tendency to bulk up after weigh-in, Mayweather's history suggests that he'll rise to the occasion effectively. However, as ESPN's Dan Rafael points out, the fight at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Hotel and Casino falls on the weekend of Mexican Independence Day.
That may have the crowd on Alvarez's side. As beloved as Mayweather may be in the United States, everyone loves an underdog story—or the "next big thing."
Alvarez is 14 years younger than Mayweather, and a triumph on September 14 would indubitably cement his status as a prolific boxer.
Mayweather's massive undertaking is a huge threat to his sensational record. He could have continued choosing safer foes, as the possibility of retirement looms at the conclusion of his six-fight contract with Showtime.
But if he pulls it off, it will only grow Mayweather's legend and enhance his legacy. Perhaps, it would be enough to allow him to hang up the gloves after fight No. 50 after all.