The ability to win world titles in multiple weight classes has become an important barometer for measuring a fighter’s greatness. While there is something just as admirable in a boxer like Marvin Hagler who comprehensively dominates a single division, it is rare for elite fighters to confine themselves to one weight class.
Some fighters can add or shed weight depending on the magnitude of available opportunities, but the reality of developing bodies and aging usually means that fighters—who almost always begin boxing as teenagers—naturally grow into heavier divisions.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the kind of special athletic specimen who has seamlessly adapted to adding weight. Since turning professional at 19-years-old in 1996, Mayweather (44-0, 26 KO), according to Boxrec’s encyclopedia, has captured multiple world titles at weights ranging from 130 to 154 pounds. With a 21-0 record in title fights (and 19-0 against current or former champions), Mayweather has fought with consistent excellence in five divisions.
But some feel that Mayweather is now heading into more dangerous territory. Despite currently being a champion at junior middleweight (and welterweight), his upcoming bout against unified WBC/WBA 154-pound champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is viewed as one of Mayweather’s most intriguing and potentially dangerous fights in years. And much of this has to do with the size advantage Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KO) possesses.
So, how worried should Mayweather be about Alvarez’s edge in bulk and brawn?
Simply put, Alvarez’s size advantage is merely something Mayweather will be aware of as a factual element of the challenge Alvarez presents. The reality is that no boxer hovering around Mayweather’s weight can bring a single attribute to the table that’s going to cause “Money” to lose a second of sleep. And this has everything to do with Mayweather’s skills and boxing acumen, as opposed to being a knock on his opponents.
Alvarez, undoubtedly, possesses an impressive combination of marketability, offensive prowess and a consistently improving skill set, all of which will help make Mayweather-Alvarez easily the year’s most significant fight. But the reality is that Mayweather will be the heavy favorite, and deservedly so.
Having scored 30 stoppages in 43 contests, Alvarez’s 69.77 knockout percentage is impressive. That said, while Alvarez is a strong puncher, he is not a concussive one in the mold of an Adonis Stevenson, for instance. Given the depth of Floyd’s experience, Alvarez will not surprise him with a unique or particularly awesome type of power. And as opposed to passively worrying about Alvarez’s positive attributes, Mayweather will actively develop a plan to counter them.
The first wrinkle of Mayweather’s plan, perhaps, was the intelligent decision to negotiate a 152-pound catch weight, per ESPN, for his fight against Alvarez. That this is only two pounds south of the junior middleweight limit might not appear significant, but cutting that extra weight will be an obvious nuisance for Alvarez, especially at the end of an arduous training camp.
But there’s also the matter of brute physical strength, as opposed to just punching power, to consider. Assuming Alvarez makes 152 pounds, he will still rehydrate significantly and hold a 15 (or so) pound weight advantage over Mayweather come fight night.
One must thus consider whether this discrepancy will enable Alvarez to lean on Mayweather and bully him.
Everything about Mayweather’s career up to this point, however, supports the argument that he’ll be able to completely negate this possibility. In Mayweather’s recent victory over Robert Guerrero, his footwork and subtle movement was what led to such a comprehensive victory.
The way Mayweather would land lead right hands and then proceed to duck, lunge and then completely turn Guerrero to readjust the ring’s geography was almost comically impressive.
Mayweather can employ these kinds of tactics against Alvarez and expect similar, albeit less one-sided, results. Against Guerrero, Mayweather combined counter-punching with bursts of offense, and his ability to make adjustments and offer the kind of variety Alvarez has never seen is far more crucial to the outcome of this fight than any perceived advantage Alvarez has.
Whether it’s power, size or youth, Alvarez does not possess enough of any one thing to “worry” Mayweather, whose signs of decline against Miguel Cotto were clearly exaggerated by fans and pundits. Rather, if Mayweather loses, it will be due to a complete and virtuoso performance from Alvarez. And frankly, power and strength would only be a small component of such an outcome.
Mayweather is perhaps boxing’s most intelligent fighter, and he will prepare optimally for Alvarez. If one wants to talk about worrying, then it is the reality of Mayweather’s dedication to training and his craft that should have Alvarez concerned.
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