CJ Ross couldn’t spilt Floyd Mayweather and Saul Alvarez in their catch weight bout in Las Vegas last night. It is a view of the contest shared by absolutely no one. There is no need here to wheel out statistics on punches thrown and landed or discuss whose were the most damaging and who was the more aggressive fighter. This was by no stretch of the imagination a close fight. Even the most novice boxing observer could see how one-sided Floyd’s victory truly was. The other two judges scored it 116-112 and 117-111 in favour of Mayweather. I would say that even those scores are generous to Canelo.
Alvarez is no mug. Unbeaten in over 40 fights and a legitimate champion in his own right, he looked relaxed and confident as he entered the ring. After all, he is younger, bigger and stronger than his opponent and everyone in boxing knows that a good big ‘un will always beat a good small ‘un. Why wouldn’t he fancy his chances? The problem is that Floyd moved beyond merely being good a very long time ago and last night he put on a display that made Canelo look very ordinary.
Canelo is much more than just an aggressive brawler; he is a very tidy boxing technician who is disciplined in and out of the ring. But the fact is that his biggest asset is his power and tagging Mayweather early on and then maintaining the pressure was his only chance last night. Unfortunately for the Mexican, Pretty Boy Floyd intends to keep hold of those looks and makes it his business to take as little punishment as possible.
By turning side on and tucking his chin behind a raised left shoulder, Mayweather makes himself amongst the smallest targets ever to enter a boxing ring. Attempted body shots are easily deflected away by elbow and arm while lightning fast foot speed and supreme balance allow him to duck and sway out of the range of anything trying to knock his block off.
How he manages to judge that range to the nearest inch I will never be able to fully comprehend. It is as if he has watched the fight in advance and knows exactly what type of punch his opponent is going to throw, when he is going to throw it, and where it will land. Then, in order to expend the minimum amount of energy and to ensure the maximum amount of frustration for his foe, he’ll position that pretty face of his a hair’s breadth away from the danger zone.
This complete and utter confidence in his own defence allows him to launch attacks from a position of unique comfort. Once again energy is conserved as [can someone please think of an adjective meaning faster than lightning and insert it here] hand speed and unerring accuracy give him an unrivalled punch success rate. In every round last night he picked Canelo off two or three times with crisp, clean, solid shots that rocked the younger man and, bit by bit, ate away at his belief.
Many who watched the fight will have recalled Roberto Duran’s famous ‘no mas’ moment against Sugar Ray Leonard all those years ago. Duran wasn’t hurt, but he could see there was no way he could win and simply couldn’t face one more minute of torment. Following a stinging uppercut onto his chin towards the end of the seventh round, Canelo paused against the ropes and for a moment he had the same forlorn look in his eyes as Duran did before he quit. But Alvarez is one of these Mexican fighters that, like the wild horses of the border plains that Cormac McCarthy writes about, can never truly be broken. He fought on bravely for another five rounds even though he himself must have known it was all in vain.
By the end they were booing Mayweather. This is the price he tends to pay for making it all look so easy. The abuse he gets in the final rounds of his fights is akin to jeering Real Madrid in the 90th minute if they are 7-0 up and take their foot off the gas. Does Floyd care? Unlikely.
And so on he swaggers. 45 and 0 now. Opponents to challenge him are thin on the ground. Opponents to beat him are non-existent. Danny Garcia or even Britain’s Amir Khan are being mentioned as potential contenders. Further down the line a super-fight against the equally brash and similarly (but not equally) talented Adrien Broner is another possibility. Broner, who appears to be modelling his entire life on Mayweather, currently says he doesn’t fight ‘family’. But if 10 or 15 million dollars were to be laid on the family kitchen table, I imagine he may have a change of heart.
Floyd has four more fights of his current six fight deal to run. If, as expected, he wins them all he’ll be 49 and 0. That just happens to mirror the mythical and magical career stats of the great undefeated champion, Rocky Marciano. One suspects that Mayweather is keen to go one better before he hangs up his gloves.