Everything you need to know about this weekend's big fight.
Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (right) will fight Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on Saturday. (AP)
On Saturday night Floyd Mayweather will attempt to unify his WBA junior middleweight title against WBC 154-pound titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (9 p.m. ET, Showtime PPV, $64.95). The fight will be contested at a catchweight of 152-pounds.
The 36-year-old Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs), who ranks No. 1 in SI.com's pound-for-pound ratings, is fighting for the second time in five months and in the second fight of a six-fight, 30-month contract with Showtime that could be worth in excess of $200 million. It is a rare active year for Mayweather, who since 2009 has fought just once a year. Alvarez (42-0-1) is one of the brightest young stars in boxing. His last fight, a decision win over previously unbeaten titleholder Austin Trout, drew 39,472 fans to the Alamodome in San Antonio. At 23, Alvarez is fighting in his preferred weight class--albeit two pounds lighter--and has shown significant improvement his last few fights.
In addition to Showtime's pay-per-view telecast, the fight is being shown in HD at 547 movie theaters across the United States.
Mayweather--a world champion at 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154 pounds--reestablished his dominance last May with a lopsided unanimous decision win over Robert Guerrero. After a year off, which included a two-month prison sentence that was part of a plea deal stemming from a domestic violence charge against an ex-girlfriend, Mayweather looked sharp, pot-shotting Guerrero around the ring while showcasing his trademark elusiveness.
But at 36, Mayweather is at a point where other great champions have experienced sudden, unforeseen declines. Consider that Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes were almost the exact same age as Mayweather when they suffered historic upset losses (to Ezzard Charles, Leon Spinks and Michael Spinks, respectively) that spurred their downfalls.
With his boyish good looks and hard hitting style, Alvarez quickly emerged as arguably the biggest star in Mexico, with a growing number of fans in the southwestern United States. Though lacking amateur experience--he turned pro at 15--Alvarez is fundamentally solid with a powerful body attack. Since signing with Golden Boy Promotions in 2010, Alvarez has been brought along slowly, facing a steady diet of journeymen (Alfonso Gomez, Matthew Hatton, Jose Cotto) and faded former champions (Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintron, Carlos Baldomir). Recently, Alvarez has taken more control of his career. The decision to face Trout, who was coming off a win over Miguel Cotto, was one Alvarez made against the wishes of his promoter.
Still, there are lingering questions whether a win over Trout--a skilled but slow fighter who wins with a consistent jab--has prepared him to face a fighter of Mayweather’s caliber.
Official weights announced at Friday's final weigh-in (6 p.m. ET, Showtime/CBS Sports Network)
Mayweather has seldom been in trouble in any fight, dominating all comers throughout a decorated 16-year professional career.
Guerrero's most notable victory to date came in April's super welterweight showdown with Austin Trout.
This fight has been billed as the biggest in boxing since Mayweather’s matchup with Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, with good reason: Mayweather is a mainstream star and Alvarez is the most popular young fighter in boxing. But is he ready for this type of challenge? Mayweather’s dominance isn’t a fluke; his defensive instincts are unparalleled. When Floyd tucks his chin behind his shoulder, he becomes difficult if not impossible to hit twice. His legs aren't what they used to be, yet in recent fights he has been standing in the pocket, going toe-to-toe and even walking down fighters. He still counterpunches with speed and precision, using the jab to establish tempo and distance and a piston-rod right hand to keep opponents from advancing.
Alvarez has two advantages. First, he is fighting (close) to his preferred weight limit. Mayweather has fought twice above 147-pounds (against De La Hoya and against Cotto last year) and both times he took an inordinate amount of punishment. His reunion with his father/trainer, Floyd Sr., appears to have sharpened Mayweather’s defensive focus, but he will still be the smaller man in the ring. A critical factor will be for Alvarez to utilize his size and strength advantages.
Second, Alvarez is a terrific body puncher. While Mayweather’s head has proven nearly impossible to hit, his willingness to stand and trade the last few fights has left his body open for an accurate attack. If Alvarez can stay disciplined, he may be able to wear Mayweather down with a body attack.
Still, Mayweather is an artist in the ring, able to consistently neutralize an opponents best weapon. And despite De La Hoya’s insistence that Canelo’s jab will be his best weapon, Alvarez has never been known for having anything better than an average one.
According to Bovada.lv, Mayweather is 5/14 favorite (-280) favorite. Alvarez is an 11/5 (+220) underdog.
The hype surrounding this fight simply doesn’t match the competitiveness of it. Alvarez has a bright future, but he lacks the experience and polish necessary to beat a fighter of Mayweather’s caliber. Alvarez may have his moments and he may even be able to buckle Mayweather with a right hand or two. But Mayweather’s ability to put opponents in a deep hole will ultimately force Alvarez out of his game plan and push Mayweather to a comfortable decision win.
The Tweet Beat
Join the conversation about Mayweather-Alvarez on Twitter. Track the hashtag #TheOne to see who's tweeting what about Saturday's fight.
· Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse, 12 rounds, for Garcia’s WBC and WBA junior welterweight titles
· Ishe Smith vs. Carlos Molina, 12 rounds, for Smith’s IBF junior middleweight title
· Ashley Theophane vs. Pablo Cesar Cano, ten rounds, welterweights
· Brian Kenny will host the Showtime PPV telecast, with Mauro Ranallo calling the action, Al Bernstein and Paulie Malignaggi serving as expert analysts and Jim Gray and Heidi Androl reporting.
· The referee assigned to he even is Kenny Bayless, one of Nevada’s most respected officials who has worked Mayweather-Shane Mosley and Mayweather-De La Hoya, among others. The ringside judges are Dave Moretti (more than 100 world championship fights), C.J. Ross (30-plus title fights over more than two decades) and Craig Metcalfe (multiple title fights in his 15 year-career). Ross, of Nevada, controversially scored Timothy Bradley’s win over Manny Pacquiao last year 115-113 for Bradley.
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