Floyd "Money" Mayweather will put his undefeated professional boxing record on the line as he battles fellow undefeated foe Saul "Canelo" Alvarez on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs) comes into the bout with his most recent victory over Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero in tow. Money dominated all aspects of the fight, earning a unanimous decision victory to retain his WBC welterweight title.
Facing Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs) will mark the second bout of a six-fight agreement Mayweather has with Showtime Sports. Regardless of the outcome, the man known as Money is going to get paid. Check out this ESPN SportsCenter tweet for confirmation:
Floyd Mayweather will earn a guaranteed purse of $41.5 MILLION for fighting Canelo Alvarez. That's why they call him "Money."— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 5, 2013
The two stars are set to put on a show.
Mayweather won't add another jewel to his undefeated crown by taking it easy on Alvarez. The challenger is considered to be one of the toughest opponents Money has faced in his career, lending to the idea that an unprecedented upset could be brewing on the Las Vegas Strip.
To avoid that setback, here are three keys to victory for boxing's biggest star to follow on Saturday night.
Win Counterattack Battle
One of the best counterpunchers in the world, Mayweather is in the unfamiliar position of facing a fighter who has valued that same characteristic over the course of his career.
Per this tweet from Mayweather Promotion, Canelo is valuing it once again as he prepares for this fight:
"Counter punching is going to help but it's going to be an all around thing...also pressure but smart pressure will be a factor too"- Canelo— Mayweather Promotion (@MayweatherPromo) September 3, 2013
Mayweather has made a number of fighters pay for picking the wrong time to attack. With world-class speed and an ability to wait for his chances, it's no surprise Money has 26 career KOs despite not being considered a true "power" fighter.
Canelo, on the other hand, is exactly that.
The 23-year-old might only need one or two big shots to put Mayweather on the mat. He has power unlike Mayweather's past few opponents have. If he can time out Money's advances just once, things could get very interesting.
Don't Stop Moving
Canelo has a lot of strengths, but stamina isn't considered one of them.
There's little doubt that Alvarez's camp have been working him tirelessly to increase his ability to withstand a 12-round fight. Dating back to 2010, only five of Canelo's 12 bouts went to the final bell.
As you can see from Top Rank boss Bob Arum's comments in this tweet from boxing journalist Michael Woods, there's a theory brewing that Mayweather can win the fight by wearing his opponent down to the point where a KO might be in the works:
Arum thinks Canelo has a "stamina problem" and Floyd might KO him. http://t.co/qSAyoW0nBw— Michael Woods (@Woodsy1069) September 5, 2013
For Money, the task is simple: Don't stop moving.
Who will win the fight?
Whether it be tactical or not, Mayweather can test Canelo's stamina in this match throughout the first few rounds. By pushing a pace that includes more back-and-forth movement than sparring, Mayweather can feel out his opponent while adjusting on the fly.
The strategy is also two-fold. Alvarez has noted power. By keeping his feet moving and thereby controlling the distance between the two fighters, Money can avoid the big-time threat of a hook or uppercut from Canelo while picking his spots to attack.
Use Strong Defense/Speed to Frustrate Canelo
Mayweather is widely regarded as one of the best defensive boxers of all time.
Anthony DiMoro of Sport Rants is just one of many who feel that way:
Mayweather is the best defensive fighter i have ever seen in my lifetime. Not a favorite of mine, but ive never seen defense close to that— Anthony DiMoro (@AnthonyDiMoro) September 4, 2013
His speed is the key to that prowess.
At age 36, questions are starting to creep in about when that speed will slow down. Odds are it won't happen against Canelo, but the drop in speed is an issue that really only makes itself known when it affects performance in the ring.
Per this tweet from BoxingInsider.com, Canelo knows penetrating Mayweather's defense for more than just short stretches will be important to his chances:
Canelo: "I'm looking for ways to penetrate Mayweather's defense ... Cotto had success, but couldn't maintain it. I plan to maintain it"— Boxing Insider.com (@BoxingInsider) August 28, 2013
The great George Foreman also thinks defense will be key to the match:
Great fighters like Mayweather only get beaten by time & "Timing." 1 wrong move defensively & its over— George Foreman (@GeorgeForeman) September 6, 2013
Like he has done so many times before, Mayweather can frustrate his opponent with a strong defensive effort. It certainly won't be easy against a fighter with Canelo's raw power and improving talent, but Mayweather is boxing's king for a reason.
If he follows this blueprint, there's a good chance Mayweather will be 45-0 on Sunday morning.
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