Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a lot of things—undefeated professional, five-division champion and holder of a 44-0 career boxing record—but one of the things he's rarely been associated with during his rise to prominence is taking the "difficult" fight on a regular basis.
No one can accuse Mayweather of dodging the No. 1 contender to his throne after Wednesday night's announcement—Saul "Canelo" Alvarez will be his next opponent this September in a pay-per-view showdown at the MGM Grand Arena.
The superfight gives "Money May" a chance to cement his status as one of boxing's all-time great stars against a rising, undefeated fighter in Alvarez, who will be the toughest fighter on Mayweather's career slate in some time.
Mayweather tweeted the news on Wednesday to over four million of his closest supporters, confirming that a superfight is in the books and Sept. 14 will be reserved at the arena of choice in Las Vegas:
News broke late Wednesday that Mayweather and Alvarez were indeed booked for one of boxing's biggest brawls between undefeated fighters in recent memory. The fight will occur at a 152-pound catchweight, as noted by USA Today (via the Associated Press).
It will also be the second bout of Mayweather's six-fight contract to be broadcast on Showtime Sports.
ESPN's Dan Rafael ranked this fight-in-waiting as one of the biggest he's ever covered during the course of his career:
Media coverage has been swirling in the less-than-24-hour period since the announcement became official on Wednesday, and the consensus among boxing columnists everywhere is simple: Mayweather is stepping up to the plate by taking this fight, and his long-term reputation can take a big-time leap with a win on Sept. 14.
Among those endorsing Mayweather as stepping up to the plate by agreeing to fight Canelo are Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated and Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports. While they differ in their language, they agree on one prevailing point—Mayweather is taking a fight that he could very well lose.
It's a strategy that he has avoided, if you look at his last few opponents.
Look no further than the May 4 bout against Robert Guerrero to understand that Mayweather has been the subject of serious questions. Is he more interested in keeping the zero in his loss column or moving up the all-time ranks alongside some of boxing's biggest all-time stars?
Fights against Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz and Ricky Hatton have done nothing to curb fears that Mayweather is picking his fights based on matchups and advantages over specific styles. Plus, there's always the Manny Pacquiao saga to consider in Mayweather's career rewind.
This announcement, though, has a different feel to it.
As note by SI's Mannix, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer had this to say following the announcement: "If there are still some Floyd Mayweather haters out there, they won't have much to say after this."
And Schaefer is right.
Canelo is a young, experienced fighter for his age at 22 and has dominated opponents up to this point in his career. He has wins over Austin Trout, Joselito Lopez and Mosley on his ledger and carries the weight of his Mexican heritage to every fight.
Simply put, Canelo's speed, strength and power in the ring will give one of the best defensive boxers in the history of the sport a challenge that none of the fighters he has demolished in the past few years ever have.
There is, of course, the pesky issue that Mayweather and Canelo will both likely make out like bandits when the checks are cashed and the PPV numbers are in—regardless of the outcome.
In the spirit of fairness for those who feel Mayweather is just taking this fight for the money, there will likely be a big purse to be had. Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes.com reported that Mayweather's take on Sept. 14 could be the biggest of his career.
Important in the grand scheme of things? No. Mayweather is one of the richest men on the planet and will be counting his money long after his gloves are retired and hanging from an auction stage.
But if you leverage the disappointing results of the Guerrero PPV and the fact that he is expected to carry Showtime Sports against his old home—HBO—then the argument can be made that Money May is indeed thinking green above gold.
When the facts are put together, though, they lead more logically to the opinion that Mayweather is taking what is arguably the biggest fight of his career (Oscar De La Hoya is right up there) at a time when no one has really touched him over the past few years.
That risk puts Mayweather in a vulnerable position.
But it also puts him in a position to do something that he had no chance to do against Guerrero—vault his name up the list of boxing's greatest stars. Mayweather has something to lose other than viewership in this fight, and it could wind up being the fight that cements his legacy as a boxing legend for good.
Heck, it might re-open the discussion of a Pacquiao superfight one final time.
But that's an expose for another day—enjoy the buildup over the next few months around the fact that Mayweather didn't hand-pick an opponent he can carve up over the course of a 12-round brawl.
Canelo is a hand-picked opponent who fits the prestige of an undefeated champion. As such, boxing's best undefeated champion is in for a fight that should tell us in very clear form whether or not we've been living in Mayweather dominance for all these years or in the shadow of boxing stars coasting to keep zeroes intact.
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