Mayweather vs. Canelo: Mapping Out Each Fighter's Road to Victory

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 24:  Floyd Mayweather speaks to the media as Canelo Alvarez  looks on during a news conference at the Pedestrian Walk in Times Square on June 24, 2013 in New York City. Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez are scheduled to fight September 14 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada to unifty their junior middleweight world titles.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Floyd Mayweather and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez must each take drastically different routes to victory when they clash on Saturday, Sept. 14.

Each fighter enters the weekend's marquee fight with a goose egg in the loss column. Mayweather sports a sparkling 44-0 record with 26 knockouts while Alvarez is 42-0-1 and looking to solidify himself as one of boxing's elite competitors.

There isn't one universal blueprint to success, though, with Mayweather relying on his agility, defense and experience, while his younger foe will look to land a deafening blow.

Here is what each boxer must do in order to get his hand raised in the middle of the ring in Las Vegas.

Note: All statistics are courtesy of CompuBox.


Mayweather: Ride Veteran Savvy to Victory by Decision

For all his glitz and glamour orchestrated outside the ring, Mayweather is the sport's smartest, most calculated pound-for-pound boxer.

A stout defender, Mayweather uses his quickness to avoid taking a pummeling. His opponents have landed just 17 percent of their punches, while Alvarez's opponents connect 24 percent of the time.

For all of Mayweather's greatness, he does not knock out many opponents. Only two of his last nine bouts have ended by way of knockout, which is fine for a masterful tactician who can control fights from Michael Buffer's "let's get ready to rumble" declaration to the final bell.

That's not to label him a weak attacker; Mayweather connects on 41 percent of his jabs and power punches. The 36-year-old picks his spots well and slowly grinds away at his opponents, even if it doesn't result in a drop to the canvas. 

He'll lose a brawl, so Mayweather must stretch out the fight to its limit and gradually wear Alvarez down. Rather than going for the photo finish, Mayweather needs to wait Alvarez out and let his experience propel him to a strategical victory by decision.

It's not the flashiest way to win, but it's gotten Mayweather this far, so why change now?


Alvarez: Go Big or Go Home

If Mayweather is driving down the highway to a prudent victory, Alvarez must slam on the pedal and come with everything in his might.

While Alavarez is a competent defender in his own right, he can't match Mayweather's skill there. If the winner is left up to the judges, Mayweather will probably emerge victorious.

Canelo will have to force the issue if he has any chance at prevailing. The 23-year-old has to become the aggressor, landing as many critical blows as possible to set up a knockout strike. 

The best power puncher around, Alvarez has connected on 52 percent of his power punches, which excludes jabs from the calculation. Including jabs, his total connection percentage of 42 still hovers an inch above Mayweather's mark.

Mayweather must go to the floor for Alvarez to hand "Money" his first career defeat.

Most prognosticators are discounting his chances of winning anyway, so Alvarez should play the hungry underdog with nothing to lose but everything to gain. There isn't anybody more dangerous than someone not afraid of losing.