For the past five years, Floyd Mayweather has become a phenom in the sport of boxing. Outside of the ring he’s charismatic, fun, and eccentric. Inside of it he’s a masterful defense technician with amazing timing and speed who has built the aura around him that there isn’t a fighter in the world that can defeat him in the square circle. People believe it, the media believes it, and no matter who his opponent is, the general conception is that Floyd Mayweather will not lose. But come September 14th, the question surrounding that theory is about to be challenged, and some fans, and writers, truly believe that he may take the first loss of his career to the undefeated Mexican sensation Saul Canelo Alvarez.
Floyd Mayweather has a slogan, “People pay to see me win, people pay to see me lose, but in the end, they all pay.” Well, ever since he’s turned his career to the professional level in 1996 one of those things hasn’t happened. He hasn’t lost. He’s come close, but he hasn’t been defeated. This fight is expected to be one of the biggest fights in the last ten years in the sport of boxing. It’s not just because it’s Floyd Mayweather, it’s not the All Access show, and it’s not just Saul Canelo Alvarez that is the reason for this fight being so big. It’s a little combination of it all. The main reason though, the reason that more people will buy this PPV more than any other one since Mayweather-De La Hoya, the reason that this fight has reached the magnitude that it has, is because people actually think Floyd Mayweather can lose this fight.
Saul Canelo Alvarez is bringing a record of 42 wins with 0 defeats and 30 KO’s to the table when he squares off against Floyd Mayweather on September 14th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He’s big, he strong, he’s deceivingly fast, and he’s young. He’s not afraid and he’s coming to fight. While Mayweather has easily beaten his opponents since his close split decision win to Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, the fact of the matter is, in every single fight since then he has entered into it a huge favorite. Ricky Hatton was a threat, but many thought he was too small and too easy to hit. Juan Manuel Marquez was on the pound for pound list as one of the best, but Mayweather’s speed and size many thought would be too much for him. Victor Ortiz wasn’t skillful enough and Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto just weren’t young enough anymore to be a legit threat. In every fight since Oscar, Floyd has been an overwhelming favorite entering the ring.
Alvarez is nothing like his last five opponents. He’s everything that they are not. With a strong jab, combination punching, and a knack for brawling, Alvarez has everything in his artillery that he needs to beat Mayweather. He’s not too small, he’s not too old, and his style matches up well with Floyd. Jose Luis Castillo, Oscar De La Hoya, and Miguel Cotto have given Floyd the toughest fights of his career. The common denominator that they all had; great jabs, effective combination punching, and a good ability to attack the body. Alvarez has that same style. But can Alvarez do something that has never been done before? Even though many thought Castillo and De La Hoya won those fights, they didn’t. Just because Canelo has the tools and blueprint to build a house, doesn’t mean he can do it correctly.
The game plan is there. Floyd has a hard time getting around a very solid jab always in his face backing him up. However, he counters it perfectly with his lead cross once he has the timing down. Canelo needs to use his jab to back Floyd to the ropes, and sometimes eat that counter right hand. Once on the ropes, he needs to throw combinations to the body and to the head. Rough him up, hold, push, and do not let him get off those ropes. Make Floyd feel the punches everywhere like Cotto did. The judges like it even though they may not land. And with combination punching, some big punches will get through. Cotto and De La Hoya proved that. But he can’t gas himself out doing it. Floyd may invite him in a few times knowing that down the stretch Canelo will get tired. Because of Canelo’s size, Floyd will be trying to stay off the ropes for most of the fight, but if Canelo can use the jab to back him up effectively enough to keep him there for a lot of rounds, he could get Mayweather uncomfortable in there. Cotto and De La Hoya had success keeping him on the ropes with body combinations then over hand rights that landed on Mayweather, however the amount of conditioning it takes to keep that up for twelve rounds is tough. Canelo loves putting his opponents on the ropes and throwing combinations, and he’s going to need to do it a lot in this fight to give himself a chance to win.
The other thing Canelo can’t do, and he showed that he’s very capable against Trout, don’t get frustrated. Stick with the game plan. Jab Mayweather to the ropes, and unleash combinations. He also can’t fade down the stretch. Cotto and De La Hoya both lost the championship rounds against Mayweather because they got tired. He needs to be in shape. Mayweather will land against Canelo. He’s going to land the lead right hand, he’s going to land the left hook, and he’s going to land that jab to the body and to the head. Canelo is going to need to walk through those.
Most people will say if there is a game plan then why hasn’t it been done. What makes Canelo different than Mayweather’s previous five opponents? The answer is style. His style of fighting is the type of style that is needed to give Floyd a problem. Hatton was a brawler but he couldn’t jab, Marquez was a counter puncher and Floyd made him look silly, Ortiz wasn’t good enough, Cotto had the right style but he couldn’t finish down the stretch, and Mosley, although his speed matched Floyds, didn’t have the type of jab and body punching in his style to give Floyd any sort of trouble.
The game plan is there, the ability to beat Mayweather is there. However, just cause Canelo has the ability to do it, doesn’t mean he’s going to be successful. He needs to have the right strategy, and he needs to execute in the ring. Adjusting on the fly is a must because nobody is smarter in that ring than Mayweather is. In the end, most people will pick Canelo to lose, but the time and opponent for Mayweather to take the first loss of his career has never been more threatened than it is now. And that’s what makes this fight more thrilling than the last five years of Floyd’s dominate career.