Mayweather vs. Canelo: Alvarez's Only Chance to Win Is an Early KO
Canelo Alvarez must approach Floyd Mayweather Jr. like an ace starting pitcher: If he's to have any prayer of getting to him, he must do his damage early. Like a great hurler, Mayweather has always seemed to get better as the fight moves on.
His ability to adjust and time his opponent after the first three rounds is perhaps his most underrated quality. Alvarez needs to get in and do harm to Mayweather before the pound-for-pound king has a chance to study him.
Zab Judah was getting the best of Mayweather through the first three rounds of their bout in 2006, but once Money made the proper adjustments, it was all downhill for Judah. Getting off to a fast start is imperative for Alvarez on Saturday night.
Obviously, this is easier to fantasize about than it is to do. Mayweather looked sharp from the outset of his fight with Robert Guerrero. With his superlative conditioning and his re-dedication to defense, catching Mayweather with a clean shot will be like trying to hit a gnat with a baseball bat.
I think I've had my fill of baseball analogies for this article, but you get my point.
If Alvarez is unable to touch Mayweather early, confidence could also be an issue. No matter how much Canelo talks about knocking Mayweather out, he knows he's facing one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport.
He knows how brilliant a performer he is. If things look down early, doubt will creep in and he will begin to accept that Money is better. Alvarez has proven that he can dominate opponents that he outclasses physically, but what will he do when matched in the ring with a superior athlete and technician.
Canelo needs early success to convince himself that he can win this fight. He told Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times this: "Come fight night, you'll see. I can do it. I'm confident I'm ready now. No doubt."
No matter what he says, I doubt he's 100-percent sure he can be victorious. That statement even sounds as if he's trying to convince himself he's up to the challenge.
There is also the matter of Alvarez's conditioning. He doesn't always have a very long wind in his fights. Alvarez admitted to Pugmire that conditioning had been a problem in the past, but says that training at a higher altitude has helped him conquer that issue.
Still, if this fight drags on for seven rounds with Mayweather taking pot-shots and keeping him off balance with body blows, Canelo is more likely to be fatigued than Mayweather. He's a bigger, slower and less-fluid athlete naturally.
If this happens, Canelo will not only lose the fight, but he'll likely be stopped.
Money is the favorite for good reason, but Canelo does have a slim chance. If the latter hasn't made his mark early, its going to be a long night for him.
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