“I didn’t know how to get to him,” said Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in his post-fight interview after dropping a majority decision, which should’ve been unanimous, to Floyd Mayweather for the WBA/WBC junior middleweight titles.
That, boxing fans is basically the story of the fight. In Mayweather, Alvarez was facing perhaps the most versatile boxer/counter-puncher of the era, and he fought as a straight up boxer-puncher who showed no gumption or urgency on how to press and disrupt Mayweather’s flow and timing. Alvarez showed little or no head movement and basically walked straight in and in turn was lead around the ring and controlled by Floyd’s quick jabs and right hands.
As it was stated here before the fight in my pre-fight prediction: “The only way Canelo can win is if he can turn the bout into a street fight. It’s his only option. He can’t win by waiting and reacting or boxing, he must make Mayweather do what he doesn’t want to. I don’t think he’s capable, he’s not the puncher he’s been built up to be, and I’m not convinced that Alvarez won’t be compromised by having to weigh-in at 152 or less.”
Well, as it turned out I don’t think the weight would’ve changed much. Canelo didn’t look as strong as he’s looked in other bouts, however Mayweather’s underrated physical and core strength probably had a lot to do with why it appeared Mayweather (45-0 with 22 KOs) was never bothered by any of Alvarez’s finishing hooks and right hands. Canelo’s problem in the fight turned out to be that a) he couldn’t make Floyd do anything he wanted him to and b) was ineffective at forcing Mayweather to do a single thing that he didn’t want to.
I had it 10-2/118-110 for Mayweather (seen above, landing, in Tom Hogan-Golden Boy photo) for the record.
It had to be obvious to Alvarez and his brain trust that he had about as much chance at besting Floyd fighting a wait and react style as, say, “Smokin” Joe Frazier trying to out-box Muhammad Ali from outside and at center ring. And forget about Alvarez trying to out think or out box Mayweather fighting at a somewhat measured pace…it just couldn’t happen.
Therefore Alvarez was left with one choice on how to go about attacking Mayweather and giving himself his best and really only chance at scoring the upset — and that was to pressure Mayweather and try to make him have to fight him off. Even at that, it’s doubtful that he could’ve sustained that type of style versus Mayweather, but it would’ve at the least given him a chance to get lucky with a lottery punch. Think about it, Canelo was never really hurt by Mayweather, but was too flustered to try and really go after him. On top of that his offense lacked the imagination and creativity needed to give Floyd something different to look at or think about. Instead of trying to make Mayweather uncomfortable or fight with a sense of urgency, he tried the oldest trick in the box against the wisest technician in boxing – and that was to inch back to the ropes without being forced, just in order to try and feint Mayweather with a jab and then nail him with a big left hook off the lead or a desperation over hand right as he’s moving in. Only Floyd saw through this and was seldom bothered or forced to retreat as a result of it. What he did was stay at the perfect distance away from Alvarez and pot-shot him with fast straight one-twos and occasional counter right uppercuts when Alvarez over extended, leaving himself open and vulnerable.
For those who’ve seen Alvarez over the last few years, you had to notice that he’s really not an aggressive fighter. He fights as a boxer-puncher who likes to set his opponents up when they come to him as much as he does by taking it to them. He and his corner had to know that if Mayweather was coming forward and it wasn’t because Alvarez was hurt and he was looking to finish him, they were in trouble and losing the fight. It didn’t take long for Mayweather to deduce that Alvarez wasn’t comfortable initiating the action and that there was an open bridge and causeway for Floyd to push the fight with no urgency and also with the luxury of holding every physical advantage with all his weapons at his disposal. It also didn’t take long for Alvarez to realize pressing Mayweather at a measured pace made him a sitting duck for Mayweather’s quick and perfectly timed lead right hands and back hand uppercuts. Once Alvarez showed Mayweather that he was more perplexed than hurt, it was all down hill for him.
When it was over, it was obvious that Mayweather was too proficient, fast and sure of himself for Alvarez. Sure, you can say that Canelo lacked the experience needed to tangle with Floyd, but he was just as much physically inferior to Mayweather as anything else. Mayweather won almost every exchange and only engaged in them when it was to his advantage, that’s how much he was in control. Floyd fought a brilliant fight against an opponent who may have his day in the sun down the road.
The way to beat Mayweather is to apply constant pressure, cut the ring off and make him fight three minutes a round and get him into exchanges when he doesn’t want to. Even under these circumstances it’s no easy proposition due to Floyd’s speed, elusiveness and defensive capabilities. It is sufficient to say that Alvarez had no clue as to how to approach the fight and his skill set was exposed somewhat by the masterful boxing of Mayweather. In the early rounds Floyd was doing just enough to win but it was clear Alvarez was already frustrated. By the middle rounds Floyd put on a boxing clinic completely dominating the outclassed Alvarez.
I’m sure some will say that Alvarez was exposed, and he was. Then again some of us didn’t think he matched the hype, despite how gifted and skilled he his. But the truth is Mayweather had a lot to do with why Canelo looked so ordinary in addition to the fact that Canelo was born to make Floyd look good stylistically. There wasn’t one thing in the ring that a fighter does where Alvarez held the advantage, not one. In fact Mayweather even looked like the bigger puncher during many of the exchanges. So let’s just say it, Alvarez wasn’t quite as good as advertised and Mayweather is fighting as great as he ever has.
Mayweather looked much better in this fight than he did in his last bout versus Robert Guerrero four months ago. Maybe activity is the best thing for Floyd? If Mayweather is slowing down I don’t see it. If anything he looks stronger and more sure of himself than he ever has. At this time it’s safe to say there’s not one fighter around weighing between 140/154 who can even give him a good scare, let alone defeat him.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com