When Floyd Mayweather takes to the ring against up-and-comer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on September 14 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, he’ll be a favorite to come out of the affair just as he has in each of his 44 previous professional encounters: the winner.
In fact, some might say it’s simply crazy to suggest Canelo Alvarez has anything but a puncher’s chance against the American.
Mayweather has been perfect for his entire professional career, an achievement made more impressive by the continued move up in weight classes he’s made as he’s progressed in age. At 36, Floyd will be fighting a remarkable 22 pounds above where he started as a professional way back in 1996 against no-hoper Roberto Apodaca.
And most of his fights haven’t even been close. The preeminent fighter of his era, Mayweather has scored 26 knockouts thus far, and of his 18 wins by decision, only his two battles against Jose Luis Castillo back in 2002 and his lone 2007 battle with Oscar De La Hoya (his first as a junior middleweight) could be considered close.
In each of these three cases, Mayweather got the benefit of the doubt and he probably deserved it. And whatever one might believe about whom he chose to fight and when, Mayweather’s resume is strong.
He handily defeated notable contemporaries Diego Corrales, Ricky Hatton and Shane Mosley and his 2012 win over Miguel Cotto was probably exactly what would have happened had the fight happened at any reasonable time during the two future Hall of Famers’ careers.
So is Mayweather a shoe-in, then, to defeat Canelo Alvarez? Not so fast.
The younger, stronger and naturally larger Alvarez will be just 23 years old this September. He’s practically a giant compared to Mayweather, and he’s just now entering what will be his physical prime.
Moreover, the popular Mexican has shown multiple dimensions as a boxer as he’s risen up the ranks.
Against smaller fighters he feels he can simply bully, such as Josesito Lopez, he does exactly that. And when he’s hunting more dangerous game, bigger, stronger or just more technically skilled, Alvarez has shown he can do whatever it takes to get the job done.
For example, he boxed proficiently from a distance and with real power against solid southpaw technician Austin Trout last April in San Antonio in a bout most experts predicted he’d need to be the aggressor to win.
He did similar work against Shane Mosley last May.
The redheaded slugger’s punches are fast, accurate and (better yet) they come in combinations. He seems to possess the kind of power in both hands that can hurt his opponents with a single blow, and that gives him a real edge against almost anyone he faces, even Mayweather.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Alvarez seems to be getting better and better in each fight. Considering the relative youngster has already fought in 43 professional fights, that says a lot. He’s got a wealth of experience most prizefighters his age could only dream about.
But can he beat Floyd Mayweather? Absolutely.
Look, Mayweather has had a fantastic career. When they roll out the banners and start up the ticker tape parade in Canastota the first year he’s eligible, Mayweather will absolutely be inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame.
But all things must pass. So too, will Floyd Mayweather’s reign over the sport of boxing.
He’s 36 years old and no matter what Bernard Hopkins tells you, that’s old in a boxing ring. No matter how good he is at it, as an older man, Mayweather cannot continue to slip and parry punches as well as he’s done over his career. He just can’t.
If Alvarez lands clean, Mayweather is toast.
Additionally, he’s facing a true junior middleweight for the first real time in his career. Oh sure, he’s notched two wins at the weight previously, but a closer look will tell you the two fighters he beat above 147 pounds, Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto, spent most of their heydays fighting in lower weight classes.
Alvarez couldn’t make 147 without having surgery to remove some of his limbs.
Finally, Mayweather will be fighting a young, hungry fighter entering his prime who just seems destined for superstar status. When fight fans lined up by the thousands to see the two men take the stage during last month’s 10-city press tour (the 11th stop was cancelled), the crowds were overwhelmingly pro-Alvarez.
Don’t be surprised if thinking Canelo Alvarez defeating Floyd Mayweather wasn't quite so crazy after all. It just might be the kid’s time.
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