There are two kinds of smart and intuitive fighters in professional boxing. The first type are the tacticians who are great at developing a new strategy on the fly during the bout or at least have the capacity to re-watch their first meeting with a particular opponent and adjust to what may have led to their defeat during the first meeting. Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Archie Moore, Muhammad Ali, and Sugar Ray Leonard come to mind in that vein. Then there are the fighters who know how to manage their career and were great at picking their spots on when to fight certain opponents who presented a risk to them. Fighters the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson and Leonard make up that list as does Bernard Hopkins. And of course there are some fighters who belong on both list as you see.
As most know Floyd Mayweather 44-0 (26) belongs on the second list, and that's not a shot at him being that there are mostly great fighters who make it up. Floyd has throughout his career managed to fight the most dangerous fighters he's met at the most opportune time for him. That's why I wouldn't be surprised if Mayweather, while he's still near the top of his game and skill level, took on the new “Golden Boy” of boxing Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 42-0-1 (30) before he becomes a fully flowered fighter.
And regardless if team Alvarez thinks their fighter is ready for Mayweather or not, they could never turn down the money or the opportunity a fight versus the undefeated biggest name in boxing would present them. Obviously, since it's been mentioned countless times since Floyd decisioined Robert Guerrero on May 4th that a fight with Alvarez is out there for him some time before he fulfills his Showtime contract obligation, next (Sept 14 Mayweather is next scheduled to fight) would be the ideal time for Floyd to meet Alvarez. Because when you objectively look at the situation, Mayweather is getting older and the 22 year old Alvarez is getting bigger and stronger. Alvarez is already physically bigger and stronger than Mayweather, he just hasn't reached his full potential yet.
Of all the potential opponents around for Mayweather to fight weighing between 140-154, Alvarez is viewed by many observers as the fighter who would provide him the toughest night due to his size, youth and power. And in the main that's pretty hard to dispute. But lets be honest, Alvarez's reputation far eclipses his actual ring accomplishments and resume. Granted, he's a very good looking young prospect who has shown that he can put his punches together when he deems it's safe and eventually cuts loose. He has a nice left hook and has even shown that he can fight a little bit if he's forced to move back and tee step and pivot. And like most up and comers and fighters proclaimed to be the next big star of professional boxing, Alvarez has feasted on many has beens (Shane Mosley & Kermit Cintron) and journeymen who were there just to throw punches back at him.
There are two things about Alvarez that we know for sure….1) we really don't know how good he is or will become and 2) the toughest fight he's had to date was in his last bout against Austin Trout who is the first live fighter he's faced who has some ability and was in his prime. Again, Alvarez may go onto to be a great fighter or be washed up by the time he's 25, we just don't know. All that we know is that he's looked pretty formidable to date based on the opposition he's faced, but certainly not like the destroyer he's been built up to be.
However, as of this writing, he's viewed by a majority of boxing insiders as the fighter who wouldn't enter a bout versus Mayweather as bringing a knife to a gun fight. His youth, hunger and power and if perhaps Mayweather declines a little as the year moves along, just maybe Floyd could be vulnerable to an upset defeat. That's why I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Mayweather goes in against Alvarez next.
It's smart business and management for Mayweather to get to Alvarez before he reaches the zenith of his full potential. Because right now most everyone sees “Canelo” as the next great fighter on the horizon. If Mayweather beats him now he'll get the credit for beating a young fighter in his prime who most saw as having unlimited potential. And if Alvarez never becomes much after he loses to Mayweather, it'll be Floyd who will be seen as the one who derailed him and ruined his future.
On the other hand, if Alvarez fights once or twice more and is either upset or only looks decent, he'll be exposed and Mayweather won't gain much legacy wise for beating him then. And personally, I think Floyd realizes this and will fight Alvarez at the time when beating him nets him the biggest return possible. And you know what, if that's how it plays out, Mayweather can't be ripped for being ahead of the curve once again.
It makes all the dollars and sense in the world for the undefeated Floyd Mayweather to take on the undefeated Saul Alvarez in his very next bout. And oh yes, it would be a financial blockbuster. But let me play devil's advocate just a little bit. The Mayweather-Alvarez fight is huge no matter when it takes place (assuming there are no screw ups along the way), but it's optimal date would be on Cinco de Mayo (in Texas Stadium). So what if Floyd, in order to maintain his active contractual schedule, travels over to England to fight Amir Khan. It's another big money fight, and there's 0% chance that Floyd doesn't knock Khan out (and Mayweather really could use a flashy looking knockout for the public to think about). And of course during now and Cinco de Mayo they make sure Canelo stays busy with a kayo gimme to keep his name circulating.
Look for Mayweather-Alvarez to take place no later than Cinco de Mayo 2014.