Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is bigger and stronger than Floyd Mayweather, but his deficit in technical skill and experience has him rightfully as an underdog for their upcoming bout on September 14 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Underdog or not, Alvarez has the ability to win this battle of undefeated fighters if things go his way. He just has to take control of the flow of the bout.
Against "Money" Mayweather, this is a nearly impossible task. Mayweather has become one of the greatest fighters of all time by using his defense and accurate punching to control a fight. He is also smart enough to lure fighters into his traps and exploit them on counter attacks.
Canelo must try to wrestle this control away from Money. Here are three things that will help him accomplish that feat.
Cut off the Ring
Alvarez is a punishing fighter. He is strong and throws menacing combinations with deadly accuracy. In his 43 professional fights, Canelo has ended 31 of them via a knockout.
In doing that, he's had great success bullying opponents onto the ropes. However, this is not a good strategy when fighting Mayweather. Charging straight away at Mayweather will play right into Money's hands.
The 36-year-old's legendary defense and shoulder roll allow him to avoid blows at close range. This leaves opponents vulnerable to Money's counter attacks and pot shots.
Canelo must try to control the movement in this fight, but he also has to be careful of getting to close to Mayweather. Cutting off Money's angles and setting up his attacks is the best way to accomplish this.
Take Away the Jab
Mayweather can wear opponents down with his jab. He is quick and accurate. This has frustrated many an opponent in the past, and it is something that Alvarez has proven vulnerable to.
The last time Canelo was in the ring, he scored a big unanimous-decision victory over Austin Trout. However, Trout spent much of that fight landing his jabs at will. Trout is excellent with the jab, and Canelo dominated him in power punches, but the fact remains that Trout connected on 154 punches to Canelo's 124.
As was the case in that fight and others, Alvarez has had success moving beyond an opponent's jab with sheer power. However, that is not going to work against Mayweather.
If Mayweather is having no problem landing his jabs, he will keep Canelo off balance and let his defense do the rest. Canelo must make sure to keep his head moving and not provide an easy target for Money's jab.
This is something that is always far easier said than done. Any given fighter can enter a fight knowing the need for patience. However, after a few missed punches and/or taking a few big shots, those plans can quickly be pushed out of the mind through frustration and desperation.
Mayweather is never more dangerous in a fight than he is when his opponents get desperate.
Throwing big punches when the opening is not there will only leave Canelo swinging at air and getting bashed during the aftermath.
However, being patient can also not be confused with being passive.
Canelo's most likely path to victory is via a knockout. It is hard to envision any scenario where the 23-year-old Mexican out points Money.
He must be on the lookout for landing the decisive blow and be ready to strike if the opportunity presents itself. He just can't afford to go for the knockout when it isn't there.