Earlier this week, pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather announced on Twitter that he will be fighting Saul Alvarez on September 14 in Las Vegas. Follow-up reports have established that the fight will be for "Canelo's" WBA, WBC and Ring junior middleweight titles.
However, instead of fighting at the regular junior middleweight limit of 154 pounds, the bout will be contested at a catchweight of 152. Alvarez, who will be 23 by the time of the fight, has not weighed in below 153 since fighting Matthew Hatton in March 2011.
Make no mistake about it: Those extra two pounds that Canelo will have to sweat out are a tactical advantage for Mayweather. I do not think he would have taken them if that wasn't the case. However, the 152-pound limit will give the many boxing observers who revel in denigrating Mayweather's accomplishments plenty of ammunition to lessen Mayweather's victory, should he prevail next September.
The various online boxing forums are already making great sport of the catchweight provision. For years, criticizing the various catchweight clauses that Manny Pacquiao has insisted upon has been a primary attack used by partisan Floyd fans in the endless rounds of online boxing debate.
Those two pounds matter to Mayweather, or he wouldn't have taken them as part of the contract. If you doubt me on this, consider that he did nothing of the kind against Miguel Cotto in May 2012.
Mayweather fought that fight for Cotto's WBA belt at the regular 154-pound limit. Mayweather came in at 151.
If nothing else, the catchweight provision should make it clear that Alvarez represents an altogether different animal than Miguel Cotto. I've often heard them spoken of as if they are comparable fighters, but Alvarez is bigger and has much better reach. He is also younger and more explosive at this point in his career.
Since this is prize fighting, the most important question is whether or not this is fair play. I believe that it is, since Alvarez was willing to agree to it. Alvarez is a bright young star in his own right and could have continued to do well financially by fighting far less challenging opponents under far less physically challenging conditions.
Alvarez deserves credit for accepting an additional challenge in order to fast track the biggest fight in the sport getting made.
And I don't blame Mayweather for wanting the extra edge. Alvarez is the biggest man he has fought since Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, when Floyd was cast in the role of young champion. Alvarez will be Mayweather's strongest opponent.
But he might not be quite as strong if he has to drain an extra two pounds from his body prior to fighting. Alvarez's conditioning was the definite low point in his big win over Austin Trout last April. A bigger weight cut than he's done in two years, as his body continues to develop, might magnify the problem.
Mayweather is going to have to use his longer reach and his better legs to take away Alvarez's offensive abilities. I don't see him getting comfortable on the ropes against Alvarez the way he did in stretches against Cotto and Victor Ortiz.
Mayweather is exceptional at avoiding punishment at close range, but that doesn't mean he wants a mauler like Alvarez leaning on him all night. Alvarez has the perfect style for exploiting a size advantage.
Mayweather will want Alvarez to chase him and then walk Alvarez into accurate combinations. Losing two extra pounds could make that kind of fight harder for Alvarez.
I anticipate an exciting boxing event and potentially a compelling fight. I think Alvarez has enough technical skill and athletic ability to exploit his size advantage. But I think Mayweather is quick and defensively brilliant enough to stay out of danger and score back in spots.
I think Mayweather will be able to wear the younger man down. If that turns out to be the case, the legions who are always ready to criticize Mayweather will be quick to jump on the catchweight clause as a reason to take away some of his credit. It's the one sure bet I'll call out right now.
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