Floyd Mayweather and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez meet Saturday night in Las Vegas in a showdown between the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s top two junior middleweights. Alvarez is ranked No. 1 in the division, while pound-for-pound king Mayweather, who is a more natural welterweight, is ranked No. 2.
The two men will fight at a 152-pound catchweight. The outcome will crown the lineal 154-pound champion according to the keeper of such things, the TBRB.
In his last fight, Mayweather returned from a one-year layoff to dominate Robert Guerrero over 12 masterful rounds of pure boxing. It was vintage Mayweather in his finest form.
Meanwhile, Alvarez outfought previously undefeated southpaw titlist Austin Trout to unify the WBC and WBA junior welterweight title belts. More importantly, the win solidified Alvarez as a viable and lucrative dance partner for Mayweather.
Date: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Time: Showtime PPV starts at 9 p.m. ET; main event around 11 p.m. ET
Venue: MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada
Odds: Mayweather (-225), Alvarez (+175)
Note: Odds provided by Vegas Insider.com and correct as of 9/8/2013 at 6:00 p.m. ET; subject to change.
Mayweather usually doesn’t come out fast, and he doesn’t in the first round against Alvarez either. The round is mostly the two men pawing at each other from a distance.
Very few punches are landed, but Alvarez uses a stiff jab to the body to back Mayweather up just enough in most ringsider’s eyes to take the round.
It’s close, but Canelo takes it on this card with just a tad more activity. Mayweather seems unfazed.
Alvarez wants to establish his jab. He thinks his best bet is to land a hard left hand behind it. Mayweather knows this, though, so he’s using deft footwork to keep his foe off balance.
Even when Alvarez is able to catch flesh with the jab, he’s catching the same thing right back at him. Mayweather is starting to see the pattern, and that’s bad news for Alvarez.
The judges have a difficult time scoring the round. Both fighters had their moments. Alvarez threw and landed more, but Mayweather’s connects seemed more accurate.
20 -19 Alvarez
Mayweather is hitting his groove now.
He’s figured the kid out. Alvarez is trying to outbox a masterful boxer, and while he’s having limited success with it, Mayweather knows how to turn up the heat.
In the middle of Round 3, Mayweather pivots enough to get Alvarez off balance. Mayweather capitalizes with the first crisp, hard blow of the fight that snaps Alvarez’s head back like a piston. Mayweather smirks a bit, then moves in closer with his arms folded in his patented Philly shell defense.
It appears he’s inviting Alvarez to stand in the pocket, but in reality, he just wants the Mexican to believe it so he can snap his head back a few more times while he makes his way in closer. He does, and it looks like it’s about to get ugly.
29 -29 Even
Alvarez doesn’t appear flustered at the beginning of Round 4, but he probably should be. Regardless, he does not abandon his game plan.
Alvarez is on his toes, throwing hard jabs and crosses from a distance. Mayweather picks most of them off, but he’s not really landing anything in return.
Mayweather moves in with a straight right hand that stuns Alvarez. Then another. And another. He’s landed it three times now.
Alvarez responds with letting his hands go, but he can’t seem to find the target. Mayweather is too slick.
Is Alvarez crazy? He’s still staying up on his toes and boxing from a distance. It’s not working, and Mayweather is able to either avoid the punches or parry them away.
The kid loses his head for a moment when Mayweather barks something to him in the center of the ring, so he rushes in and fires in hooks and uppercuts to Mayweather’s body.
They’re mostly blocked, but Alvarez has succeeded in getting Mayweather up against the ropes. Here Alvarez let’s his hands go. He’s throwing three- and four-punch combinations. He’s not landing many, but it’s keeping Mayweather from landing and might impress the judges.
At the end of it, Alvarez has landed more punches for the first time since the second round, with Mayweather landing the cleaner blows. It’s a tough one to score.
Mayweather shuffles his way back to the center of the ring. Alvarez meets him with the same style. He’s up on his toes and trying to jab.
Alvarez lands a devastating left cross behind a blinding jab. Mayweather’s head rips back, and he loses his balance. He’s falling backward but staying upright by backpedalling while Alvarez chases.
The referee starts counting. Mayweather is bewildered. His glove touched the canvas! He’s mad, but the referee gives him the standing eight count, then let’s them continue. Alvarez is a bit more aggressive than normal, but Mayweather avoids any more big punches with his excellent defense.
Mayweather comes out with a vengeance. Where before it appeared he might be toying with his prey, he now comes out like a lion after a rabbit.
Mayweather remains responsible defensively, but he’s shooting in straight right hands and left hooks in rhythm now.
Alvarez does his best to avoid them, and he makes Mayweather miss more than the 36-year-old would like, but he does it at the expense of his own offense.
It’s a clear and decisive round for Mayweather, who appears to be going for the knockout.
Both men are confident at the start of Round 8.
Alvarez lands two sharp jabs, then follows in behind them with real aggression. He’s moved Mayweather up to the ropes again, and he’s throwing up and down the smaller man’s torso.
Mayweather dips away, and turns Alvarez, but it’s more of the same in mere seconds.
Almost the entire round is fought this way: Alvarez leaning up against Mayweather, who is either on the ropes or in the corner.
Alvarez doubles up the pressure, and Mayweather can’t seem to keep the pace.
Alvarez likes his new strategy. He begins Round 9 the way he finished Round 8, burying Mayweather under an avalanche of punches.
Mayweather has started to adjust now. He’s pivoting out of corners and the ropes faster than before, and he’s landing cleaner shots by the bucket load.
Still, Alvarez has his moments. He catches Mayweather clean on the chin with the last punch of a four-punch combination. Mayweather’s legs buckle, but he stays on his feet.
The final 30 seconds of the round see Alvarez and Mayweather back in the center of the ring trading jabs and crosses from long range.
Both fighters look tired to start Round 10. Alvarez has abandoned his aggressive infighting and is boxing on his toes again. He’s breathing heavily.
The two circle each other trading meaningless jabs. Mayweather lands two hard right hands upstairs that take Alvarez by surprise. He stumbles back a bit, but suddenly the tables are turned.
Alvarez lands a straight left that Mayweather didn’t see coming. Mayweather is down!
He gets up quickly, almost embarrassed to be hit with something so simple, and valiantly staves off Alvarez the rest of the set. Both men are gassed by the bell.
Alvarez comes out cocky in Round 11, and he pays for it. Disregarding Mayweather’s power, Alvarez walks in to a straight right hand in the first minute that visibly staggers him.
Mayweather remains aggressive but doesn’t take the kind of risks in the round that might get him a knockout. Still, Mayweather both throws and lands more on the retreating Alvarez, and turns the tide.
By the end of the round, each man looks haggard. Alvarez has a deep purple bruise around his eye that Mayweather punched like a dagger, and Mayweather’s nose has started to drip with blood from the hard punches he’s taken throughout the night.
The two men meet at the center of the ring. They embrace each other in a sign of respect, then get back to business.
Alvarez seems unsure on how to proceed. Sometimes, he’s rushing into the fray. Other times, he’s trying to box from a distance.
Mayweather is in his element now. Nothing works on him. He’s hitting Alvarez with whatever he wants. Upstairs, downstairs, he’s landing. He’s being cautious, though. He knows Alvarez can drop him with one punch.
The bell rings with neither fighter being in too much trouble, but Mayweather looking fresher and less hurt than his noble young challenger.
Both men raise their hands when the final bell tolls.
The fight was close. Mayweather hit the deck twice but had many of the early rounds in the bank. Some of the rounds could have been scored either way.
The two men wait patiently for the judges’ scorecards to be read. The tension is palpable, made even tenser by the announcement of a split decision. Who takes the win?
The first score is read. It’s for Mayweather 114-113. The largely pro-Alvarez crowd boos.
The next score comes now. It’s for Alvarez 115-111. It seems wide, but no one is thinking of that now.
The final score is read. It’s for the winner, 114-113, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in an upset the boxing world probably should’ve seen coming.