COMMENTARY | Fight fans should be familiar with one of Floyd Mayweather's favorite sayings, updated as it is from one fight to the next; "44 have tried, and 44 have failed" the undefeated fighter is known to boast. He's citing his unblemished 44-0 career record, and while technically 43 have tried, as he fought Jose Luis Castillo twice, let's not nitpick.
So when Saul "Canelo" Alvarez steps into the ring on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, how will he able to accomplish what historically 43 other fighters couldn't, a list that includes nearly 20 world champions and a handful of future Hall of Famers?
Actually, if Canelo Alvarez wants to defeat Floyd Mayweather, he only needs to follow a relatively simple 4-step game plan.
1. Use the jab: Stay patient and force Mayweather into action
Many fans, and fighters, believe that pressure is the ultimate key to defeat Floyd Mayweather. That's not the case. In fact, many of Mayweather's signature performances have come against pressure fighters who came into range and offered Mayweather ample opportunity to duck, dodge, roll and counter.
Working behind a jab and using it to set up combinations, while forcing Mayweather to take turns dictating the action and responding to that distance keeper of a first punch, is far more important. If Canelo stays patient and uses his jab, he'll force Mayweather into action more than the pound for pound kingpin may like, and he'll have a hand in determining the distance and tempo of the match.
It's crucial though for Canelo not to merely throw a flicking jab for the sake of it, but to throw a crisp, strong jab, and to bring his guard right back. With anything else, Mayweather will simply shoot his counter right hand over the top.
2. Hit the body: Slow Mayweather down and make him pause
Mayweather's conditioning is one of his best weapons. Canelo has two methods at his disposal to try to slow Mayweather down -- hit the body early and often, or smother him and wear him down with his strength and 20 pound edge.
The latter is tempting, however, Mayweather's excellence at inside fighting is the most overlooked element of his game. He's brutally effective in close quarters, and he's not afraid to get dirty in the trenches, displaying tactics perhaps just a bit tamer than one Bernard Hopkins.
Canelo would be wise not to test those waters, at least early on, until he has the chance to soften Mayweather up to the midsection. Nobody likes getting hit to the body, and nobody is immune to the effects of digging body shots. It's what enabled Miguel Cotto to make a serious run at unseating Mayweather in their May 2012 clash, and it's of paramount importance for Canelo here.
3. Move your head: Make Mayweather miss and keep yourself in the fight
Among Mayweather's many strengths is his pinpoint accuracy. If Canelo is wading right in and Mayweather can unload that straight right hand without fail all night long, it's going to be hard for Canelo to even get in the fight.
Canelo's defense certainly doesn't measure up to Mayweather's. He doesn't need it to, either, but he does need to make a significant improvement and a concentrated effort to utilize head movement, proper angles and footwork. Adding just a bit more elusiveness to his game, even if it's at the cost of initial offense, will help him find a rhythm and gain traction in the fight.
4. Adapt and adjust: Adapting to the action is the only way to defeat Mayweather
Mayweather takes away what his opponents do best, or whatever it is they're attempting to do come fight night. For a round or two it may even be working, as Mayweather turns spectator within the ring, watching his opponent and strategizing about what needs to be done.
From there, though, things become trickier, and any fighter who hopes to stand a chance will need to adapt to Mayweather's course of action. If Canelo finds that anything he's doing isn't working, even steps one through three above, he cannot simply continue running into a brick wall. He has to have a backup plan, and he has to have the ring I.Q. and the wherewithal to change course midflight.
The plan itself is simple. Its execution, on the other hand, will be exceedingly difficult.
Jake Emen runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com, where you can find breaking news stories, interviews, rankings and more. You can also follow Jake and ProBoxing-Fans.com on Twitter, @ProBoxingFans.
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