I’ll be that guy, the one that picks Canelo Alvarez over Floyd Mayweather.
Alvarez will shock the world this September and defeat Mayweather by unanimous decision. In doing so, Alvarez will become the lineal junior middleweight champion of the world according to the keeper of such things, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Perhaps more importantly though, Alvarez will become boxing’s next generation superstar, eclipsing current high demand kingpin Mayweather as well as historical giant, the Golden Boy himself, Oscar De La Hoya.
The coronation will begin promptly after the fight. Do not be late. The king is dead. Long live the king. King Canelo, that is.
Look, Floyd Mayweather is a great fighter. Easily, the gifted boxer will go down in history as one of the best pugilists of his (or any) era. And while some have been critical of his long layoffs and opponent selection (especially during his prime years) there’s no doubt he’s one of the few fighters in boxing history that will be remembered long after leaving this earth.
Joyce Carol Oates likened boxing’s obsession with the past and its veneration of certain participants to that of Christianity and its Saints. Such a saint will Mayweather be for future boxing fans: long-loved, admired and more appreciated than he was while among us mere mortals.
It will be in part because he accepted such a stern test at age 36.
Canelo will be 23 years old when the two face-off this September. He’s practically a giant compared to Mayweather, who at the very same age carried the fighting weight of 130 pounds. Moreover, Canelo has proven to be multi-faceted in his repertoire. Against smaller and weaker men he can just physically bully, such as Josesito Lopez, Alvarez goes in fast for the kill. When he’s hunting more dangerous game, bigger, stronger or just technically skilled, Alvarez has shown he can box proficiently from a distance with real power. Look no further than his win over Austin Trout in April for an example.
He’ll need both against the best boxer in the sport. Canelo will have to be patient in the beginning. He’d be wise to encourage Mayweather (a preferred counterpuncher) to lead from the outside so Alvarez can throw straight counters to his chin. He’ll miss often in the early going but not always, and when he does connect, Mayweather will feel it. That’s when he’ll become the bully. Alvarez will charge hard and hit Mayweather wherever he can. Head, side, chin, arm—it does not matter. This will put Mayweather in a cautious and defensive position, and that’s right where Canelo wants him.
You see Mayweather is the boxing’s best risk manager. It’s one of his greatest assets, and it’s helped keep him undefeated. But like Manny Pacquiao’s reckless aggression was the author of his demise, so too will Mayweather’s risk-minded approach end up being the author of his. Case in point: in the twelfth round of his 2012 win over Miguel Cotto, Mayweather caught the tough Puerto Rican flush to the chin right in the center of the ring. Cotto stumbled and was legitimately hurt. What did Mayweather do? Did he rush after him? Did he try and follow up with a combination? Did he continue his offensive assault in any way? No, Mayweather was content to go the distance. He was reasonably assured he had the fight in the bag, so he took it to the scorecards. It’s what he does.
Managing risk has its rewards. He won the fight against Cotto, and he absolutely deserved it. So too has he won all previous bouts, though some might argue he at least lost one of his two fights against Jose Luis Castillo. Regardless, what is bound to happen eventually is for the approach to have a negative effect someday, especially as he grows older and slower while continuing to fight at higher weight classes.
Expect it to come to roost against Canelo Alvarez. Mayweather will feel the power of the true junior middleweight (something he’s never really felt before) early, and it will put him on the defensive. Canelo will rack up the rounds because Mayweather will be content to try and potshot Alvarez as carefully as possible.
Mayweather will have his moments, of course. He’s a true great. He’ll fight bravely and with great precision and accuracy. He’ll show why he’s been on top all these years. The fight will be very close.
But every fighter loses (or they should anyways) and Floyd Mayweather will lose to Canelo Alvarez on this day. Alvarez will assume the throne that will be his to lose for the foreseeable future. And Mayweather will take one more step towards boxing sainthood because he’ll have finally done what we demand all our great saints do: discover their limits.
Floyd Mayweather’s limit will be fighting Canelo Alvarez at 152 pounds.
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