COMMENTARY | With Floyd Mayweather announcing that he will face Saul "Canelo" Alvarez on September 14, the boxing world received a nice consolation prize after the proposed mega fight with Manny Pacquiao went up in smoke. Although this fight has all the makings of being the biggest event in the sport since Mayweather's showdown with Oscar De La Hoya, the reality is that this bout may end up becoming another one of those Mayweather fights that "Money" detractors complain about. You know, the one where the excitement is lacking because Mayweather puts on yet another boxing clinic with very little resistance.
The reason behind what could potentially be a fight that fails to live up to the hype is that we really don't know how good Canelo Alvarez is. At the tender age of 22, Alvarez is still maturing in the sport. Sure, he won a unanimous decision against Austin Trout, but that fight was more competitive than the scorecards made it seem. And aside from Trout, who has Alvarez fought that would prepare him for a fight against Mayweather? Let's go down the list, shall we?
Shane Mosley? Nope. He was a shell of the green eyed bandit that plowed through lightweights and upended Antonio Margarito. By the time he got to Canelo, he was riding a 0-2-1 streak and looked like an old man trying to collect a paycheck.
Josesito Lopez? He was an over matched, undersized and overrated opponent that had a ton of heart but was clearly not in Canelo's weight class. The result was a smaller fighter getting handily beat down by the bigger, stronger guy.
Kermit Cintron? Are we really talking about a guy who lost to Carlos Molina? Not to take anything away from Molina, but it's obvious that he's not an elite fighter. Either way, he totally dominated Cintron with while sporting a less than stellar record of 18-4-2 entering the fight. Cintron was far removed from the welterweight title contender he once was and found himself beat down because of it.
Alfonso Gomez, Matthew Hatton, Carlos Baldomir and Lovemore N'dou? Give me a break.
Come to think of it, when has Alvarez fought a slick boxer with speed and a great defense? The answer is that he hasn't. With the exception of Trout, Canelo has mostly dealt with opponents that will stand in front of him. It goes without saying that Mayweather will not be there for Canelo to wing hay makers at until one separates him from his senses. And because of this, what we might end up seeing is another one of Mayweather's dominant yet less than exciting performances against a very good, maybe even great, but not elite fighter.
On paper, Mayweather-Alvarez sounds awesome. In one corner we have Mayweather, the undefeated boxing genius that has constantly been ripped for not facing elite competition and/or opponents in their prime. In the other we have the perfect foil being a 22-year-old Mexican, with heavy hands, a distinct size advantage and primed to be the next big thing in the sport. Mayweather has been showered with praise from fight fans and journalists who are relatively shocked that Mayweather will actually fight for the second time in a calendar year and opted to take on a young, hungry opponent. But is it really all that shocking?
Is Mayweather really taking that much of a risk?
Aside from Canelo's power and size -- and the size will be neutralized by the catch weight of 152 lbs -- what does he have to offer that Mayweather should be worried about? And let's be clear, this may be a totally different fight if it was fought at the 154 lbs weight limit. The extra two pounds might not sound like much, but for a fighter the size of Alvarez, shaving off those two pounds will likely exert more energy and put him at a physical disadvantage. Without a distinct size advantage, can Alvarez disrupt Mayweather's rhythm? Taking a look at what Canelo has offered thus far in his career, there has yet to be any evidence that he could outclass Mayweather in a gloved chess match. Which leaves him, like many other Mayweather opponents, with the path to victory being a heavy use of aggression and hope to catch Mayweather asleep at the while for a rattling combination. The problem is that it hasn't happened yet and it's hard to believe that Canelo has enough unique attributes to give Mayweather trouble.
A fighter like Pacquiao possessed the speed and power that could have given Mayweather problems. Pacquiao was unique enough offensively where you would be interested to see how Mayweather would adjust to deal with the offensive threat. Canelo has yet to offer something truly different. As a matter of fact, when looking back at the Trout fight, you could see Canelo's inexperience shine through as he launched multiple hay makers in what appeared to be frustration when he couldn't land in the early rounds. What will he do when he is unable to land clean on Mayweather and "Money" makes him pay for those mistakes?
Floyd Mayweather is known to turn what could be an exciting fight into a cerebral affair. The question is whether Canelo has another gear in him that will grant him the ability to match wits with his opponent. Without the experience, it's very difficult to believe that he will be able to. And if he can't, what we will end up with on September 14 is a fight with a build similar to Mayweather-De La Hoya and a fight that absolutely cannot live up to those expectations.
Let's hope I'm wrong.
Andreas Hale is a former editor at websites including BET.com and HipHopDX.com. Today, he resides in the fight capital of the world and has covered boxing and MMA for mainstream media outlets such as MTV.com and Jay-Z's LifeandTimes.com, as well as die-hard outlets including FightNews.com, Fight! Magazine, Ultimate MMA, CagePotato.com and others. You can follow him on Twitter (@AndreasHale).
- Sports & Recreation
- Floyd Mayweather
- Canelo Alvarez