When Floyd “Money” Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs) gets into the ring against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs) on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the undefeated veteran will need a game plan to counteract the boxing IQ of his younger opponent.
Mayweather is one of the smartest fighters in the sport as well—Money hasn't won 44 straight bouts without being intelligent—and he must anticipate the kind of plan Alvarez will bring into the biggest fight of his life.
While there was a feeling that Alvarez would try to use his size and power advantage to bully Mayweather, years of fighting on the defensive have made Money as tough to hit as anyone in boxing.
That’s why Canelo will attempt a different approach.
Alvarez told Miguel Rivera of Boxing Scene about his strategy against Mayweather this September:
Mayweather is fast, but he only throws one or two punches and then moves. He has a good defense, but we are going to have a great strategy to win. I promise that I will win. Everyone wants to rip his head off from the first round on, but no one ever achieves that. We must begin by hitting the body and then going up to the head. The key is to stay calm. I have to take responsibility, because I know that a lot of people are going to rely on me and I want to make them happy by getting a win that day.
Every fighter has a plan against Mayweather until it doesn’t work in the ring, but Alvarez’s commitment to a long fight and a long-term plan over the course of a 12-round fight is the right way to stop a defensive fighter like Mayweather.
Canelo will not beat Money in the first four rounds, but if he can accumulate enough damage to Mayweather's body throughout the fight while taking as little abuse as possible, the 22-year-old Mexican has the power to win this fight in the latter rounds.
Mayweather must understand Alvarez’s game plan and adapt his own to counteract the challenger’s offense and defense.
If Money can stifle Canelo’s game plan by attacking early and forcing his opponent out of rhythm, there is little doubt that the less experienced fighter will resort to his more aggressive ways and play into Mayweather’s style of fighting defensively and counterpunching.
Money has become known for fighting off the ropes and allowing his challenger to tire themselves out while he covers up and ducks out of his opponent's punches, but he will have to come out fast and stun Canelo by forcing the tempo.
Instead of fighting the way he has over his last several bouts (a style many fans find boring), Mayweather must revert back to the aggressive brawler that the boxing world saw take down Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.
No matter what Alvarez’s final game plan will be, Mayweather’s goal will be to adjust to it, stifle it and frustrate Canelo before ultimately forcing the younger challenger to play into Money’s style.
If Canelo falls victim to Mayweather’s plan, he will be handed a tough decision loss.