Floyd Mayweather told everyone coming in that Canelo Alvarez was just another fighter, and wouldn't provide a stern challenge to him. But we all know all good things must comes to an end, all reigns must peter out. What if this resolute Mexican, who turned pro at 15, and seemed to have an otherwordly composure in the months leading up to this high-stakes boxing Super Bowl, was The One to make Floyd a liar, prove him a lesser pugilistic deity than he's declared he is?
That possibility went out the window fairly early on Sunday morning at the MGM Grand, as Alvarez, at 23, looked a grade or two lesser than a man who is a modern marvel of pugilsm. The 36-year-old Mayweather, exceedingly peppy at 36, won a majority decision, as CJ Ross saw, somehow, a 114-114 draw. Thanks be to the almighty, though, she was outvoted by Dave Moretti and Craig Metcalf, who scored it 116-112 and 117-111.
There will be a call for Ross to be fired, and frankly, there should be, as I saw one round that Canelo won, and another that could be a tie. It is a bit infuriating that after such a performance by the best boxer of his era, and a few other eras, too, gets overshadowed even slightly by such incompetence. I dare say, yes, a MAJORITY of even semi-informed boxing people think that Ross needs to be benched, for good. I'm quite certain a majority of Manny Pacquiao fans would agree, as they'll recall Ross scored for Timothy Bradley 115-113, last year.
Mayweather was gracious in victory, as he typically is, save for that one session with Larry Merchant a while back.
"It's all about skills," Mayweather said post-fight. "I came out tonight and showed my skills. But a true champion like Canelo can take a loss and bounce back.
"My dad had a brilliant game plan. I executed that game plan. I could have pressed it and got the late stoppage, but tonight experience played a major key. Tonight was just my night."
Not sure about that stoppage contention, I didn't see Canelo getting into that danger zone, either from a single shot, and or an acculmulation, but anyway...
After, Canelo wasn't crushed, but he admitted it hurt, emotionally if not physically. "He's very elusive, he's a great fighter and that's why I couldn't catch him," Canelo said. "I didn't know how to get him. It's as simple as that. He's very elusive.
"The frustration was getting in there. But simply he's a great fighter. I didn't want to lose. I didn't want to leave here with a loss. But it happens and it hurts."
Mayweather started out reasonably cautiously, and Alvarez gave hope that he could be competitive early.
But Floyd started pulling away, and by round six, was in total control. Sharp jabs, lead rights, one-twos, two-twos, left hooks and pulling out, he was in offensive control. Defensive control, too, as Floyd time and again made the Mexican look like his hand speed was sub-journeyman level.
Floyd mostly stayed in center ring, but when he went to the ropes, he made Canelo miss, often.
Canelo got frustrated midway through, going low, throwing a shoulder block. He was getting pot-shotted, clean, and had no answers. It never got truly ugly, but there were times when you felt a bit bad for Canelo, who waited for opening, for opportunities that never came, and while doing so, ate clean hard shots. Before the 12th round, Floyd Mayweather Sr didn't even bother giving Floyd instructions; he grinned, yelled, "I told you!" into the stands and waited for the inevitable.
When we heard majority decision, I dare say many of us figured we'd misheard that, that it had been a long night, and there could be no way shape or form that any person in their right mind didn't have Floyd the winner. Should have known better, as boxing always does manage to inject this sort of sad drama into the mix.
The stats told a tale that makes Ross look eve sillier. Mayweather went 232-505, to 117-526 for Canelo, who connected at a feeble 22% connect percentage.
Speaking of no answers: who can challenge Floyd? Danny Garcia? Gennady Golovkin? Andre Ward? Weigh in!
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