COMMENTARY | In 2007, LeBron James' greatness was prophesied in defeat by Tim Duncan after his San Antonio Spurs humbled the Cleveland Cavaliers and sent James' soaring star crashing back down to Earth. In 2013, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez' future greatness was prognosticated in defeat by Floyd Mayweather after the pound for pound king thoroughly outclassed the young Mexican star and had Canelo visibly sulking at the podium during the post fight press conference.
Like James, Canelo thought that his time had come to become "The One" until somebody more seasoned, more experienced and with a higher sports IQ harshly put the brakes on the hype train. It was a tough defeat for both athletes, but James proved that there is a lot that you can learn in one defeat that can be used in many future victories. And if Canelo takes those lumps like a true champion and learns from his mistakes, he will also rise when his time finally comes.
This was Canelo's "LeBron James" moment where a prince thinks that he is king but is shown that he still has a ways to go before he can comfortably sit in the throne. But, for now, that throne is still occupied.
At the tender age of 23, there is absolutely no shame in losing to Floyd Mayweather. Just like there was no shame in LeBron being ran out of the building by Tim Duncan's San Antonio Spurs. It's just that the athlete has to realize what role experience plays in becoming a champion and how coming back from your losses is what makes a true champion.
Like James, every since we first laid our eyes on Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, there was no doubt that he was a superstar in the making. The question wasn't about their skills or marketability, it is about their ability to mature properly and make sure their hand doesn't inflate to a size where the crown doesn't fit.
When James and his Cleveland Cavaliers stepped onto the court against Tim Duncan and the seasoned San Antonio Spurs, it became evident James wasn't quite ready to take that next step and was soundly swept out of the series in four games. And it wasn't just sheer athleticism that stopped James. It was the Spurs ability as a team to outthink the Cavs. They took away their weapons, exploited glaring weaknesses and turned the team into a virtual non-threat.
Canelo, in similar fashion, bit off far more than he can chew with Maywether. The savvy 36-year-old put forth a game plan that caught the Mexican completely off guard. Mayweather stood firm in the pocket, popped a mean jab, smothered Canelo's offense and thoroughly frustrated him with an attack meant to humiliate the seemingly bigger and stronger Alvarez. All Canelo could do was let the frustration set in and wing punches in hopes of landing what would have been considered the punch of a lifetime. To say that the student was taken to school by the teacher and served a bit of time in detention would be an understatement. As a matter of fact, if any of the judges were to have had a 120-108 scorecard, rather than a trio of scores that were littered with pity rounds (especially you C.J. Ross) nobody would have uttered a word.
After the Spurs embarrassed the Cavs, Duncan sought out James in the locker room and prophetically told him that the league would be his someday. Fast forward six years and the league belongs to King James. Tim Duncan saw it then but knew the young ball player wasn't quite ready for that next step. A little seasoning would do the trick.
Mayweather heaped the same praise upon Canelo after his one-sided wipeout of the redhead that was the equivalent of the Spurs sweep over the Cavs.
"He's an up and coming champion that fought a current champion. Someday he will go into the hall of fame," Mayweather said during the post fight press conference. "This is still one of the best pound for pound champions in the sport today. Before long he will once again be champion…In my eyes he is still a champion."
Mayweather doesn't normally speak highly of his opponents. And perhaps this is some sort of kindness hangover that he's has been displaying since his incarceration last summer. Nevertheless, boxing's best fighter showering a man he artfully dismantled should carry some weight. If Canelo licks his wounds, studies the tape and realizes that he lost the fight mentally before he lost it physically, the puzzle pieces should come together for him to own the sport once Mayweather decides to hang up the gloves and spend the rest of his life swimming in his vault of money.
Unlike LeBron, Canelo will likely never get the opportunity to exact revenge on an older Mayweather like King James did in the 2013 NBA Finals. Chances are, Mayweather will be long gone when Canelo hits his boxing stride and puts all of the tools together with experience. At this point, it is all mental for Canelo Alvarez. He could rise to the occasion and carry the torch into the new era or he can fold like a lawn chair, learn nothing from being outclassed and be taken advantage of by future opponents.
If there was any blueprint to success, it wasn't the one that Oscar De La Hoya believes he created. It is the one that great athletes such as LeBron James continue to follow. Hopefully Canelo isn't too stubborn to use it.
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
- LeBron James
- San Antonio Spurs
- Tim Duncan
- Canelo Alvarez