Are you ready for the fight?!
With less than 30 days remaining until the most anticipated fight of the year takes place, Bleacher Report brings you the 10 things you simply must know before Floyd Mayweather takes on Saul “Canelo” Alvarez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, on September 14.
In addition to deciding the fate of Canelo’s junior middleweight alphabet belts, the bout will also crown the linear champion at 154 pounds according to the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board as the fighters are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
Mayweather will be super rich after, but this is no superfight.
The term “superfight” is thrown around too much in boxing today. What it should stand for is two top ranked pound-for-pounders, or longtime division stalwarts, finally meeting in something that has to go down as a historically significant fight.
Fights that immediately come to mind are Ray Leonard vs. Marvin Hagler, Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier and Thomas Hearns vs. Roberto Duran. A recent example of a superfight that could’ve happened, of course, is Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao.
Make no mistake, Mayweather-Canelo is the biggest fight of the year. It’s going to be a real super fight to see, but it isn’t a “superfight.” Instead, it’s an aging great taking on an up-and-coming hopeful.
If anything, it’s a crossroads fight at the highest possible level.
The Ghost was no match for Floyd.
Okay, okay just hear me out on this one. No one is saying Mayweather doesn’t deserve to be ranked at the top of the boxing world, and no one is saying he doesn’t deserve to be the heavy favorite against Alvarez.
However, Mayweather is 36 years old. Moreover, his last two wins are nothing to be incredibly excited about. Think about it. In May of 2012, he out-pointed a diminished version of Miguel Cotto that was just as easily decisioned by Austin Trout in his very next fight.
Then, in May of 2013, Mayweather beat up Robert Guerrero. How good is Guerrero at welterweight? Well, he “earned” the Mayweather fight by winning a total of two fights at welterweight. In 2012, he narrowly defeated Selcuk Aydin before outworking Andre Berto that November.
Both Aydin and Berto are competent professionals, but both lost fights afterward to Jesus Soto Karass, a scrappy but beatable veteran who has eight losses on his record.
Canelo beat the tar out of Lopez, just like he should have.
At the tender age of 23, Canelo Alvarez already has 43 bouts on his ledger. That’s a ludicrous amount of fights for someone his age, made possible by Mexico’s lower age requirement of 15 for professional fighters.
Having that many fights under his belt is a definite plus. There’s no way around it. And fighting 43 bouts predominantly in Mexico and coming out unscathed is impressive.
Still, Canelo has basically fought three fighters of note in his young career, and only one of them was fighting at his optimal weight. Alvarez unified the WBC and WBA junior middleweight titles against Austin Trout in April in a close but impressive win over a proven commodity. But his five-round bludgeoning of Josesito Lopez just proved he was naturally larger than the junior welterweight, and his decision over Shane Mosley came well after the latter’s better days.
Alvarez might be the one to defeat Mayweather, but he also might be in way over his head.
The last time Mayweather fought away from Las Vegas was 2005 against Sharmba Mitchell.
Being at home doesn’t quite have the same effect in boxing as it does in other sports. Oh sure, there are some exceptions. Fighting Ricky Hatton in Manchester or Sergio Martinez in Argentina can be intimidating. But, for the most part, the actual action inside the ring isn’t dictated by where the fight happens to occur.
What can happen, of course, are bogus judging decisions. And these seem to happen more often for the fighter competing in front of his home crowd than the opposite, so any close decision would seem to go Mayweather’s way.
Still, while it’s true Mayweather has made a living fighting almost exclusively in Las Vegas, at least in these latter years, Vegas is actually his adopted hometown. Mayweather is from Michigan, and if the pre-fight press tour is anything to judge by, the majority of fans there on fight night will be rooting for Canelo.
What will Floyd weigh on fight night? What about Canelo?
The 152-pound catchweight will definitely mean something in the fight. We just don’t know what that something is yet.
Mayweather fights his best these days at 147 pounds. At that weight, he keeps his speed and carries enough power with him to keep opponents honest in their approach. Alvarez, meanwhile, is all of 154 pounds. In fact, he’ll grow nicely into a full-fledged middleweight sometime very soon. While the two fighters are similar in height, Alvarez is thicker and appears stronger.
Will the two pounds hurt Canelo more than it hinders Mayweather? Will Canelo be faster at the weight or drained? Will Mayweather be sluggish? We won’t find out until fight night.
One thing is certain: If Canelo can tick two more pounds off the scale than usual while keeping his speed and power, he’ll present an interesting puzzle for Mayweather.
And no one is better at puzzles than Mayweather.
Canelo can knock Floyd out.
Mayweather has made his living by not getting hit. At his very best, his defense and ability to manage risk made him practically unhittable at times. Still, fighters get hit no matter how great they are defensively.
Mayweather has never really fought anyone who could knock him unconscious with one punch the way Alvarez can. Most of that has to do with the sheer size difference. Mayweather started his career at 130, and he skipped bouts against the likes of Kostya Tszu and Manny Pacquiao on his way up the ranks, men who had the best chance to wallop him with a single blow.
Alvarez has real power. He made natural junior middleweight Austin Trout do the chicken dance with one blow and could knock Mayweather into next week if he catches him flush.
Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Mayweather has slowed down a bit, but not much.
One of Mayweather’s primary assets is his tremendous speed. He’s equally fast with both his hands and his feet, and as the latter have naturally slowed a tad with age the former remain as sizzling as ever.
Being the naturally smaller man known for his speed, one might believe Mayweather will easily outspeed the bulkier Alvarez. But that’s wrong.
Canelo has tremendous hand speed. Against both Shane Mosley and Austin Trout, Alvarez went against conventional wisdom that said he’d need to bully the boxers. Instead, he used distance and very fast hands to carry the day. Perhaps equally important, Alvarez liked to throw fast two- and three-punch combinations.
He’ll need them against Mayweather, who will have the edge in speed on Canelo, but not by as much as he wants.
Mayweather won't be facing the same Alvarez that beat Mosley back in 2012.
Alvarez is just 23, but he’s getting better and better every time out. Sure, the kid still has lots of room to improve. Against Shane Mosley, he was hit more than you’d like to see someone coming up the ranks. And against Austin Trout, he seemed to take rounds off more by necessity than by strategy.
But at just 23, he’s far and wide the best junior middleweight prospect in the sport, and he could be on the verge of becoming a household name. A win over Mayweather would make him the biggest star in boxing for the conceivable future.
Canelo appears to improve with every fight. Where he fought at a slower pace earlier in his career, or relied too much on power, he has now become a competent boxer from the outside. But has he improved enough to outfight the craftiest boxer in the sport?
The answer to that question will be key in September.
Fans love a winner.
The fight is huge for both fighters. A win over Alvarez would keep Mayweather on top of the boxing world, and becoming the linear junior middleweight champion will only add to his already impressive resume.
For Alvarez? Beating Mayweather would mean usurping him for top draw in the sport of boxing.
Face it. Alvarez has the fanbase he needs already. During the press tour for the fight, Mayweather was often visibly disgusted with how many more people came to root for the young Mexican than did for him.
But winning is what matters, and Alvarez can only become top dog by getting it done inside the ring against a true all-time great.
Whoever wins the fight will be king of the sport.
PED testing has begun (we think).
In today’s day and age, testing for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) is an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, boxing lags behind other sports in this area, despite the possibility of greater consequences than the breaking of RBI and home run records.
Boxers can (and do) die in the ring.
For Mayweather-Canelo, both fighters will be subjected to blood and urine testing by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), according to Mayweather advisor Leonard Ellerbe. While it would be nice to have more information than that, it’s important to note Mayweather has been a staunch advocate of PED testing in recent years and has participated in USADA testing since at least 2010.
And despite what you might have heard, there is no hard evidence linking either fighter to ever using PEDs, save for internet rumors and message board gossip concerning Mayweather.
Expect a good, clean fight.