The Sept. 14 fight against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez will mark the third high-stakes bout that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has had to move up to light middleweight.
Previous ventures there have been fruitful for "Money May" in victories over Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto, but this time, the catchweight of 152 pounds puts him at more of a disadvantage.
Alvarez packs some serious power, has a 42-0-1 record and is only 23 years old, and he tends to balloon up better than most after the weigh-in.
Although the catchweight is at 152, ESPN The Magazine's Pablo S. Torre recently documented what Alvarez's longtime trainer Ronnie Shields had to say with regard to his fighter's weight. Shields claims that Alvarez may tip the scales at 152 but will be 12 pounds heavier when the showdown gets under way.
"It's bull to say he's going to be weight-drained. He'll be fine...and be 164 when the fight goes off," said Shields.
This latest bout for Mayweather at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Hotel and Casino comes with an unprecedented guarantee of $41.5 million. The outrageously lucrative mark shatters Mayweather's previous record, which he set in each of his two previous fights with a $32 million payday.
He is likely to be much closer to the catchweight than Alvarez, accentuating the advantage in power that Canelo already has.
In the previous two fights at similar weight, the 44-0 Mayweather didn't face as youthful or as spry of an opponent as Alvarez will prove to be next Saturday.
De La Hoya was in the penultimate fight of his illustrious career, and for that bout, Mayweather was lighter by 10 pounds and won in a split decision. As for the other fight, Cotto was clearly outmatched in a unanimous decision.
Since returning to the ring from a prison stint, Mayweather has faced only Robert Guerrero, who was similarly outclassed—especially in the welterweight division.
The caliber of competition Alvarez has faced has been called into question, but he essentially has nothing to lose given that perception.
Mayweather, with his quintessential record and obnoxiously large appearance fee—not to mention both fighters' title belts being on the line—faces pressure to live up to the hype.
He's known for his technical brilliance and patience in the ring, but he really needs to be on his defensive A-game to avoid harsh punishment from Alvarez.
If Mayweather can hold on for 12 rounds, his trademark endurance will likely be enough to outlast Alvarez and keep his perfect record preserved. However, it won't be easy, even though weight disparity is something he's overcome before with superior quickness and stamina.