COMMENTARY | After months of anticipation and hype, Saturday night finally brings fight fans The One: Floyd Mayweather vs. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. While Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs) is the betting favorite, Canelo (42-0-1, 30 KOs) has the more rampant fan support. Online voting at the fight's official website shows Canelo being chosen by 56% of fans who have participated.
So whose hand will be raised come fight night? These five questions will help determine the winner of the year's biggest boxing event.
Will Canelo be drained from making weight?
The Mayweather vs. Canelo clash is being contested at 152 pounds, two pounds beneath the full limit of the Junior Middleweight Division. It was a hot-button issue during negotiations, and it has spilled over into the promotion of the fight, with Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, infamously calling Canelo's management "inept" during a recent episode of the preview documentary show "All Access".
Putting aside the he said-she said aspect of this, will Canelo actually be handicapped from sweating and starving down an extra two pounds? He routinely enters the ring as a full Light Heavyweight on fight night, and it's no secret that he's an outsized Junior Middleweight. Losing an extra two pounds could certainly sap some of his energy and strength.
Still, at just barely 23 years old and without the wear and tear of many hard-fought battles in the ring, his body should be up to the task without hindering his abilities. Remember, he was fighting at 147 pounds as recently as March 2010.
Is Mayweather physically strong enough to fend off Canelo?
The reverse of that coin is whether Mayweather will be able to fend off the young, strong bull. While height and reach measurements may be a wash between these two, Canelo is 13 years younger, and come fight night, he'll outweigh Mayweather by a solid 20 pounds in the ring.
If he's able to get inside Mayweather's counter shots, he'll be able to use all of that strength and mass to do what few, if any, fighters have ever done against the undefeated pound for pound champion -- physically wear him down throughout the course of a fight.
Are Mayweather's hands healed?
Mayweather has had hand issues throughout much of his professional career. Leading up to this fight, he at least has publicly said that his hands are at full strength, which means he'll be able to really sit down on his shots and throw them with power. Whether or not that's true is of course open to interpretation.
Make no mistake though, the health of his hands will have a major bearing on this fight. If he aggravates his right hand and has to take the zip off his signature punch, the lead straight right, the bigger, stronger Canelo may be able to simply wade in past that punch to unleash his own arsenal.
Has Canelo improved his defense?
Canelo's defense isn't exactly world-class material, but throughout the bulk of his career as he has bulldozed his opponents it hasn't been an issue. However, it's something that his team has certainly worked hard to improve on. He has even experimented with a rough version of Mayweather's signature shoulder roll defense from time to time.
Still, Canelo is there to be hit if you can either take his shots in return, or stay in the pocket and fire away without getting smashed back. The latter option happens to be Mayweather's specialty, of course.
If Canelo hasn't significantly added new defensive wrinkles into his game, namely improved head movement and the usage of angles to move safely in and out of striking distance as opposed to straight forward and back, he's going to be in trouble here, and Mayweather will find him to be an all too easy target.
What will Canelo's plan be, and what will be his 'Plan B'?
Against Floyd Mayweather, any fighter who hopes to have a chance has to have an excellent plan. And then an even better Plan B.
Mayweather's priority is to take away whatever it is his opponent does best, and he excels at the task. He'll walk you down if you need to come forward, he'll smother you if you need distance, he'll beat you to the punch or he'll sit back and pick you apart depending on how the other guy wants to play his hand.
So Canelo's game plan in this fight, and his adaptability to change things up once Mayweather has neutralized that approach, is of paramount importance. He's going to need more than pressure, pressure and pressure to win the day. Additionally, the enthusiasm of his own fans in the arena could potentially backfire against him, encouraging him to continually come forward, attack and throw, walking straight into the trap that Mayweather surely has for him there.
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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