"That's a complete lie. They wanted me to drop weight."
So said Saul "Canelo" Alvarez 42-0-1 (30), who takes on WBC welterweight title holder and pound-for-pound champ Floyd Mayweather 44-0 (26) this Saturday night, on the third "All-Access." His reference is to whether it was Team Canelo or Team Mayweather/Leonard Ellerbe who insisted on the WBC junior middleweight title holder coming in at 152 for a fight that's being contested for a title in which the maximum weight limit 154 pounds.
This is a joke and there's no guessing involved here. There's no way, in my opinion, Alvarez would've been first to suggest that he would come in two pounds under the junior middleweight limit to fight Mayweather.
Golden Boy promotions employs Alvarez, and the two top guys at Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya and Richard Schaefer, know how the boxing negotiation game is played, especially by the likes of Team Mayweather. Team Mayweather knows that of all the fighters out there between 140/154 qualified, capable and in the running to fight Floyd in the next year and a half--Brandon Rios, Amir Khan, Timothy Bradley, Devon Alexander, Lucas Matthysse, Danny Garcia and Manny Pacquiao--Alvarez, because of his size, power, youth and style, is no doubt the most dangerous of the lot. And since the only perceived or real advantage that Alvarez possibly holds over Mayweather is size and strength, that is exactly why Mayweather and Leonard Ellerbe would force Alvarez to come in two pounds lighter than he would if he were fighting anyone else aside from Mayweather for a version of the junior middleweight title. They would, because they could. And that's what sucks about the business of professional boxing.
It's a fact that aside from one fighter wearing brass knuckles or tweaked hand wraps under his gloves, nothing can help alter the outcome of a professional bout like one fighter being forced to fight the scale for months before fight night. It's not even plausible to think, I don't think, for a moment that the notion of Alvarez having to come in at 152 for Mayweather was first offered by anyone associated with him.
However, boxing is a business first. Oh sure, the fighters, at least most of the ranked ones, want to go on to win the title and make as much money as they can, it's just that a lot of money trumps all else. A fight with Mayweather represents the biggest purse out there for Alvarez, by a country mile and then some. So of course Alvarez was dealing from a position of weakness when it came to the stipulations regarding what it took for the opportunity to get Floyd in the ring. At the end of the day, Alvarez reasoned that two pounds was well worth millions of dollars, so the fight was made.
Personally, I can't stand when a smaller, bigger name fighter, challenging for a higher weight division title, forces the bigger fighter to fight under his optimal weight with the belt on the line. That happens frequently today because the titles/belts have no meaning, it's about the superstar adding them to his resume so he can claim he's a four or five division champ, despite him hardly ever defeating the reigning title holder at the actual weight for the title. It doesn't matter if his name is Sugar Ray Leonard, Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, I deplore catchweight bouts. If the smaller fighter feels the title holder is too big and he must drain down in weight to make the bout, well then maybe that fighter is too small to legitimately challenge for the higher weight title.
Middleweight champ Sugar Ray Robinson didn't force light heavyweight champ Joey Maxim to come in under the light heavyweight limit when he challenged for his title. Roy Jones didn't set a ceiling on how much WBA heavyweight title holder John Ruiz could weigh when he moved up from light heavyweight to challenge for his title, and when Jones defeated him it made the win more legitimate and authentic since Ruiz wasn't compromised physically.
I expect Mayweather to defeat Alvarez via decision and control the fight most of the way. Even if Alvarez was allowed to come in at the junior middleweight limit, my prediction would be the same. But here's the thing, it's conceivable that Alvarez might not be as physically proficient for Mayweather as he was for Shane Mosley and Austin Trout, his last two opponents. Isn't the fight happening so we can see if Mayweather can defeat the full-fledged junior middleweight dynamo at age 36 with his undefeated record on the line? Of course it is, it's just that we'll never know the answer to that question. What we'll know is that Mayweather beat a version of Alvarez who can in no way shape or form be better, and he'll probably be a smidgen less than he was physically than what he was for Mosley and Trout.
Wake up, anyone who thinks the catchweight clause for this weekend's Mayweather-Alvarez clash was suggested by Golden Boy/Alvarez, because it wasn't. It was Team Mayweather who not only first suggested it, but also insisted on it. And that's because they knew that a) they held the leverage and the money and b) because they knew that by making Alvarez having to weigh-in at 151 and change, he would be compromised in the only department where he held any advantage, strength and power.
So on September 14, 2013, we will have undeniable proof that Floyd Mayweather shared the ring with Saul Alvarez on a night he possibly may not have been as dangerous or formidable as the version we saw fight Mosley and Trout.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com