The boxing event of the decade takes place this Sunday morning as the sleek American light middleweight icon Floyd Mayweather faces Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo ‘Alvarez in a catchweight championship match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, USA.
This has been the most eagerly anticipated boxing match in close to a decade since the undefeated Mayweather overcame fellow American boxing icon Oscar De la Hoya by a unanimous decision in 2007. Since then, Mayweather - also known simply as ‘Money May’ - will face his toughest test yet in the undefeated Alvarez who has advantages in punching power, size and youth. Despite these advantages the boxing pundit still has the 23-year-old Mexican as a 4-1 underdog to a superior Mayweather in a match to be held during the Mexican independence day.
Many boxing critics do not see Alvarez matching the skill, speed and ring IQ the more experienced Mayweather brings to the match. On Sunday Alvarez will need a puncher’s chance to knock out the American icon but this too will be a tall order for the challenger as Mayweather’s chin has been challenged by tougher opponents who failed to stop him in the past.
Alvarez will also need to throw volume shots to the body and run the risk of exhausting himself early in the fight. If the young Mexican comes with a brilliant game plan and shocks the world by defeating the current pound for pound champion, the effects of such an upset would be profound and send shockwaves throughout the boxing world. For Alvarez, a good fighter, defeating a great boxer like Mayweather will have the same effect as a washed up Mohammed Ali pulling a shocking upset on an invincible George Foreman in 1976, or an unknown Buster Douglas knocking out the then ferocious Mike Tyson for the first time in the late 80s.
However, to defeat Mayweather, Alvarez will have to dismantle one of the most complicated and sophisticated defences in boxing history. Money May is a boxing jigsaw puzzle that has eluded and bewildered 44 opponents including former world champions and boxing hall of famers over his 17-year career as a professional pugilist.
The eight-time world champion uses his ring IQ and deflects punches using his famous shoulder roll. The Mayweather defensive fortress also includes swift elbow blocks, holding and dipping low to evade punches. Boxing pundits think the fight will be decided by a unanimous decision as Mayweather lost his knock out power after moving up from lightweight to welterweight. Coming into the fight, Alvarez, who commands 42 wins, one draw and no losses has questionable stamina, tends to get flatfooted while his defence also needs polishing against his opponent who happens to be the best counter puncher in the sport.
There are also mind games at play as Mayweather, trained by his father Floyd Mayweather Sr, dictated that his opponent, a natural middleweight, lose weight for the catchweight fight which may affect stamina.
Mayweather, listed by Forbes Magazine as the wealthiest athlete in the world will pocket USD$41 million (over P120 million) for 12 rounds of boxing while Alvarez will pocket $12 million (close to P80 million).