These days, boxing is still a proud sport but has lost a lot of its fans to MMA action. The latter provides a shorter, more blunt and sustained form of entertainment. Boxing is like baseball. The fundamentals, intangibles and sweet science behind every move is only for the patient people or the crowd who can wait for the big overhand right to the jaw that shakes a man and a crowd at the same time. I fell in love with boxing when I first watched Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler beat the crap out of each other with my dad and brother at a crisp young age of 7 years old. Seeing two men stand in the middle of the ring and fire blow upon blow while receiving the same punishment was as thrilling as it got for a kid. It was bloody, pure and old fashioned. A man’s occupation being training to fight inside a ring for 12-15 rounds was an outlaw style of juicy. Who didn’t want to watch that on TV if not experience it live? Flash forward 23 years later and few people truly love boxing. At least around my part of the world. I mention boxing and it’s like describing a putt on a green to NFL fans. They shake their heads, roll their eyes and say the illogical thing, “All boxing is fixed man.” Uh, no it is not and actually, its cleaner than you think. People often confuse corruption with judgement. There are a lot of fights that don’t get judged right and a round scored for the wrong man can cost someone a victory. However, that is the same as an umpire in baseball missing a call that could overturn a game. Same logic. No fix included.
Boxing has died and is barely alive these days even though a ton of fights have displayed a signature kind of entertainment. Manny Pacquiao and Juan Marquez duking it out for a 4th time last year in a fight that ended in a one punch knockout. Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios slugging it out for a second time. Any fight Andre Berto and Miguel Cotto take part in always produces a good fight with plenty of punching. However, most people can’t even name 5 current boxers. Two men that are breaking their way into any sports conversation this weekend, Canelo Alvarez and Floyd Mayweather Jr., are set to clash this weekend. The weigh in is tonight and the fight is tomorrow. This, my friends is boxing at its finest. A young red haired silent Mexican destroyer against the aged perfection that is Mayweather. Their personalities are completely different. Their lifestyles couldn’t be more different. They are isolated champions set to strike. This fight took no convincing to make. This was the fight fans were demanding. The moment Canelo beat respected champion Austin Trout earlier this year, he rose to the top of the list of fighters Floyd had to take on. It’s rarely that simple or easy these days in promoting and boxing, but this time, the stage was set. Before I tell you who I think will win or what might happen, let me describe the fighters. Each have fought in 44 fights and never lost.
We all know who Floyd is. He’s 44-0. 26 knockouts. He’s the flamboyant, loud talking, ultra-confident and unbeaten champion. At 36 years old, he picks apart any opponent put in the ring with him. He isn’t a perfect man outside the ring. He likes to get into trouble with the law, whether its beating up his girlfriend, shoving security guards or not paying his taxes. He’s a boxer in every essence of the word. He grew up poor, earned his place and is now rich and famous. He beats opponents before they step into the ring. Back in 2007, he became the thorn that still rests in Oscar De La Hoya’s side. He made the silent Cotto talk more in their pregame rituals. Floyd made fun of Shane Mosley’s hair and shut him out in the ring. Floyd’s long time nemesis was Pacquaio, and both sides contributed to a mega fight never happening. Egos came into play there more than fists and words. Floyd is an island and any fighter who dares to fight him can’t just step onto the shore, they must live there for 3 months.
Canelo is a silent champion. He doesn’t speak English and prefers to keep his mouth shut in pregame sessions. An undefeated 23 year old champion that lets his fists do the talking once the bell gets rung, Canelo has atom bombs for fists and has gotten better with each high profile bout. Most boxing pundits thought Trout would take the cement footed, power punching and fire haired Mexican to task in their fight but Canelo looked like a changed man. He bobbed and weaved, slipped punches, moved his feet and slowly yet surely defeated the older fighter. He surprised me. Think of a home run hitter suddenly spraying line drives through a shifted infield. Canelo was added another element to his dominance and caught the eye of Floyd. He is 43-0-1 with 30 knockouts. He’s a powerful puncher but added defensive elusiveness to his resume.
Who wins? For betting people, this is easy. Betting against Floyd is like betting against the sun coming out in Florida. Bad for business and bank accounts. Luckily, I am not a betting man. I simply can’t afford it. I will spin it as blunt and precise as I can. Canelo came down in weight to fight Floyd. A growing man and a body that is resisting weight loss, Canelo is fighting at his lightest weight in quite some time. Floyd came up 5 pounts from his usual weight to fight Canelo. That may play a role somewhere tomorrow but my feeling is it will only work against Canelo, who will try to pack the pounds back on tonight after the weigh in. The fight takes place at the MGM Grand, in other words, the House That Floyd Built. It will nearly impossible for Canelo to score a decision in that place unless he pummels Floyd for 12 rounds and that won’t happen. My prediction is Floyd taking more punishment than usual but at the very least sneaking out a decision. I don’t think Alvarez will make it easy. He can take a punch and more so than Floyd’s previous opponents, has the power and THE PATIENCE to wait out Floyd. For the first 2-3 rounds, Floyd slip his jab and dance around, feeling Canelo out. However, Canelo does this in his fights. He waits, takes his time, measures his opponent and fires. Sure, he has never faced a fighter with the defensive skills and elusiveness that Mayweather Jr. has, but Canelo isn’t stupid like Victor Ortiz. He will get his licks in and connect with Floyd’s jaw line at some point. When that happens and how often determines if he has a chance of shocking the world tomorrow. His followers, Mexico as a whole and Floyd haters will bet on him tomorrow because he is likable and talented. The majority of the world will bet on Floyd pulling out another decision because of the countless times we have went against Floyd and lost. I thought Robert Guerrero would use his size, jab and experience to at least hang with Floyd in May but that didn’t happen at all. Guerrero was too busy early and then too tired late and lost a shutout. Canelo won’t do that. He will sit back, wait and line up his target. I don’t think he can beat Floyd on the scorecards, at least not in Vegas. The only way Canelo can beat Floyd is giving him a taste of a medicine the Money Man has never digested before. Raw unfiltered power. If Canelo can rock Floyd a few times, change the veteran’s game plan, and turn the fight into a slug fest or escape plan, the kid may have a shot. If not, I think he will lose a respectable decision to the elder master. That doesn’t mean Floyd(who usually doesn’t do rematches) won’t dish the young fighter another chance. If Canelo gives Floyd a decent hard time, a rematch will be all there is to talk about. That and hopefully a great night of boxing.
My ambition. I want Canelo to win. I am not a Floyd fan but respect his record and talent. I really like Canelo because he reminds me of my other favorite fighters, Cotto and Pacquiao. Silent proud champions who let their fists do the talking. When Cotto loses, he does so with dignity and always promises an entertaining fight. Same for Pac-Man. When Marquez knocked him out cold, the Filipino had no excuses and only praise. Floyd talks a LOT and gets under a fan’s skin, but you must acknowledge what he has done for the sport. If not for Floyd, the sport is completely dead. Mayweather is the guy you love to root against and hate. He is the perfect antagonist. However, he earned my respect when he caught Ricky Hatton(the Hitman was previously undefeated) with a check hook and knocked him out. Floyd has earned my respect the past 6 years by taking fights and producing wins. He is a rich because he made himself rich. He is the villain but not evil. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is exactly what boxing needs to stay alive. A face that everyone wants to see get beat. Canelo is the perfect hero. The talented, hard punching, smart young Mexican fighter who says little yet loses all knowledge of resistance once he enters the ring. This is the perfect fight and represents boxing at its finest.
Enjoy and get ready for more exciting boxing this fall and winter. Manny Pacquiao tries to reclaim his career on October 12th against Brandon Rios. I sincerely think Pac-Man has his hands full. Timothy Bradley has Marquez in October. Cotto faces Delvin Rodriguez in December with his new trainer Freddie Roach. Lots of good fights coming up but none as good as this clash between boxing’s brightest stars.
Canelo and Floyd are playing for blood tomorrow night.
For what it’s worth,