Too often in today's society boxing is cast over upon as a niche sport;- overlooked by the every-day man on the street and news outlets, residing in the shadows of other more mainstream-friendly sports. Sadly, this is usually the case until an engaging character emerges, and captivates the man on the street, the casual fan. Ali, Tyson, and today, Floyd Mayweather. Thus the question presents itself, as it does with every Mayweather fight, will we finally witness a dent in the perfect career of the flashy American, or will he continue to sit pretty upon his throne at the very pinnacle of the sport?
Fresh off the back of his dominant 12 round decision over Robert Guerrero, 8 time world champion and pound-for-pound king Floyd "Money" Mayweather (44-0, 26 KO's) has confirmed the identity of his next opponent for his well documented Fall return- and on this occasion, boxing fans get the super fight they've been asking for. The undefeated American took to his personal Twitter account to announce he will be "giving the fans what they want" by agreeing to fight Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
The 22 year old Mexican phenom has blitzed through an assortment of credible opponents in his rise from talented prospect to a legitimate champion at 154 lbs. Most notable was his recent outing in decisively beating previously undefeated Austin Trout, in a huge unification fight that drew in tens of thousands of "Canelo" fans in Texas a month ago. Mayweather, the welterweight champion, also holds a belt at junior middleweight as a result of his 2012 points win over Miguel Cotto, and the WBA and WBC straps will be up for grabs at a catchweight of 152 lbs when the two face off on September 14th at the MGM Grand. "Someone's 0 has to go" as the saying goes, but come September, as is the usual trend, it will be Mayweather with everything to lose, while Alvarez aims to honour his proud heritage by defeated Floyd, in a potential "changing of the guard" on the weekend of his nations independence day.
Mayweather, along with Filipino icon and 8-division conqueror Manny Pacquiao failed on numerous occasions to bring us the era-defining super fight that loomed as arguably the biggest bout in boxing history, much to the dismay of fight fans the world over. While Alvarez doesn't quite boast the fame, success and general drawing power of a Manny Pacquiao-type figure just yet, both fans and ring insiders alike view him as a shining beacon in the sport, ready to carry the torch into the next generation - a generation without Mayweather and Pacquiao.
Fighting on a date traditionally featuring Mexican fighters, Canelo, arguably the most popular active Mexican fighter around coming off his biggest career win, will no doubt bear the support from the large majority of the crowd at the MGM, despite Mayweather residing from Vegas and fighting in his backyard. Mexicans and Mexican-Americans dominate a large portion of Pay-Per-View demographic in terms of sales, and any bout involving a popular Latino fighter against another top fighter always generates good revenue. It's thought that despite the current economic climate of western society, the fight may even rival Mayweather's 2007 super fight with Oscar De La Hoya- which in fact officially did the biggest numbers ever in terms of PPV at 2.4 million buys.
At 42 victories undefeated, with a single draw, Canelo boasts almost as good a record as Mayweather himself, but while on paper their profiles may seem similar, the gulf in experience couldn't be wider. Like every Mayweather opponent, the Latino star will have to deal with the public demands and pressures of being involved in the biggest fight of the calender year, while it remains all too familiar for "Money" May, a champion of 15 years. A victory over the 5-weight world champion, would catapult Alvarez into instant stardom, but just what chance does he really stand? A legitimate threat, or just "number 45" on a long list of victims?
The Mexican does carry some significant advantages with him heading into the fight. Alvarez, a heavy-handed boxer puncher who likes to bang to the body, certainly has the size and strength advantages over the 5 ft 8" American. While he likes to box, Canelo is a naturally aggressive fighter that will bring the fight to Floyd, and at close quarters, as masterful as Mayweather is in the pocket, may have difficulty manouvering Alvarez;- who'll likely outweigh the welterweight by at least 20 lbs come fight night. Weight may indeed play a part in the fight. Canelo is regarded as a big junior middleweight, and while the 152 weight limit may appear to suit the smaller Mayweather (who has never weighed in above 150 lb's), the lack of a re-hydration rule means Alvarez is within his rights to hydrate up to as high as 170 lb's within the 24 hours separating the weigh-in and the fight itself. Canelo knows that while he may have a good chin, the American will never have been hit by someone as strong as Canelo before and will look to land big shots throughout.
However, "weight don't win fights, skills wins fights", as the Mayweather family like to preach, and a pure boxer, Floyd Mayweather has every punch in his arsenal. Few, if any, throughout pugilism history can boast a more diverse skill-set than Mayweather, and Alvarez knows he is yet to lace-up against anyone even in the same league as his September 14th counterpart. With talk of father time perhaps finally settling in with the 36 year old, Mayweather answered his critics with a flawless and sharp as ever, shutout of solid contender Robert Guerrero in May at the MGM Grand. Much has been made about Floyd's switch of trainers from Roger Mayweather to brother, Floyd Sr. While Roger's style is known to be a little more aggressive; Floyd Sr's approach has always revolved fundamentally around defence and not getting tagged. With his Dad as head trainer, Floyd may opt to utilise a similar game plan to one we all saw the night of May 4th, staying on the outside, lots of lateral movement, working behind the jab and generally being elusive; - and with his speed and skills the common consensus in boxing is nobody will outbox Mayweather at long range.
Despite Alvarez' obvious size and power advantages over the smaller Mayweather, this isn't Floyd's first rodeo. He's been around the block and is no stranger to fighting top opponents with the edge over him in certain attributes. We as an audience over the years have seen him conquer a faster adversary in Zab Judah. A stronger opponent in Jose Luis Castillo. A younger, bigger guy in Victor Ortiz. "Money" May has proved critics wrong time and time again, and while there will be people suggesting his "legs have gone" and his "punch resistance has faded", it's of the opinion of this writer that Mayweather will rise to the occasion again, overcoming his toughest foe in recent years. Canelo has a habit of taking rounds off, dropping his activity throughout spells of his fights; - if due to stamina issues, then the extra 2 pounds he'll have to lose on the scales won't do the WBC junior middleweight king any favours. I envision a tough fight for both men, but ultimately Floyd taking advantage of Alvarez' dry spots, racking up points with accurate power punches throughout and winning a 8-4 type bout on the scorecards; - leaving the ring a 9-time champion with yet another top name on his resume and a few more millions in his pocket.