There will be many factors that will decide the bout between Floyd Mayweather and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, but nothing will make a bigger difference than the experience between the two.
Sure, as far as matches are concerned, each competitor has spent about the same amount of time in the ring. Mayweather has compiled a 44-0 record over his career, while Alvarez is right behind him at 42-0-1.
However, not all matches are created equal.
Alvarez made his professional debut in 2005 and began fighting virtually anyone who would give him a match. It was 22 matches before he even left Mexico for a bout, and even longer before he was able to defeat anyone of significance.
Arguably the biggest match of his career came against Shane Mosley when the veteran fighter was 40 years old. Even then, he was the undercard for the matchup between Mayweather and Miguel Cotto.
His fight against Austin Trout was a main event and a good one where Canelo was able to come away with a narrow decision. Unfortunately, this is a light resume of success against top competition. Besides a few more key wins against Matthew Hatton, Josesito Lopez and a few others, Alvarez does not have too many quality victories.
This looks even worse compared to Mayweather, who has been a WBC Champion since 1998. He has not only competed against the best in the world—including Oscar De La Hoya, Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto—but he has beaten each in front of millions of viewers.
Money has competed at the highest stages of the sport and succeeded. The same cannot be said for Alvarez.
This difference will make an impact in a couple of ways. Primarily, Canelo could struggle to stay calm in what is by far the biggest event of his life.
Even ESPN's Dan Rafael has discussed the magnitude of this fight:
While Alvarez has plenty of confidence, he has never dealt with this type of publicity for a bout before. Between press conferences, Showtime specials and additional media attention, there is no way he can train like this is a normal fight.
Once he gets into the ring, he will also likely be a little stiff as nerves take over. Meanwhile, Mayweather can relax after competing at this level for over a decade.
Things might normalize as the match continues, but the early rounds will be difficult for the challenger.
However, the biggest issue still comes in the bout itself, where Mayweather is excellent at reacting to adjusting his game plan on the fly. According to Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times, the boxer recently said:
There's no fighter mentally stronger than me. If it was chess, you could have 12 pieces on your side and I could have one, and I'd still win.
I've faced every style there can be. I'm not worried about anything. Nothing. I don't get nervous. I was born to do this, born to be put in this position. I've been here so long. A lot of other fighters get nervous. Is 'Canelo' nervous? Absolutely. This is different, this is the pinnacle. This is not the undercard to my fight like he's fought before. This is Mayweather.
While fighters will always talk trash before a big fight, everything he just said is absolutely true. Mayweather separates himself from the rest with his intelligence to go along with his pure skill.
Who will win?
If Alvarez is overaggressive, Mayweather will be able to come back with a counterpunch. Otherwise, the favorite will simply utilize his efficient punching to win on points.
To this point in Canelo's career, he has not shown much of an ability to adjust to his opponent due to a lack of need. He was simply able to use his strength and technique to beat anyone he faced.
He has the talent to keep this bout close, but that is not enough to come away with a win. He will need to be smart as well, and he will not be able to match Mayweather in this area.
The 36-year-old boxer has seen it all and done it all, and he will be able to remain undefeated after this match due to his vast experience of high-level competition.
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