Photo by Esther Lin for SHOWTIME
by Gautham Nagesh
Fortune smiled on the boxing world Thursday as news broke that pound-for-pound king Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s next opponent will be Mexican junior middleweight sensation Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. The two are set to clash on September 14th in Las Vegas in what will definitely be the biggest fight of the year, and possibly the decade.
Since the fall of Manny Pacquiao, we have been calling for Floyd to prove his greatness by challenging Alvarez, a younger, stronger, and bigger fighter in his prime. On Thursday, Floyd answered the call.
I chose my opponent for September 14th and it’s Canelo Alvarez. I’m giving the fans what they want. It will be at the MGM Grand.— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather)
Canelo is a far cry from the stiffs that Floyd has been punishing lately; his virtuoso performance against Austin Trout last month had my fellow Transnational Boxing Rankings Board members moving him ahead of Mayweather at 154 lbs. (though Floyd remains top dog at 147)
We didn’t support the move then, and remain convinced that Floyd’s quality will win out. Mayweather is showing his savvy again by fighting a Canelo on the rise, rather than waiting for the 22-year-old phenom to reach his peak. But Alvarez has 43 fights under his belt, and is the only fighter this side of Pacquiao that can rival Mayweather’s Pay Per View appeal. He won’t be intimidated by the setting, or the opponent. As such, he poses the most serious threat to Mayweather since Floyd edged Oscar de la Hoya in 2009 to become the star he is today.
Canelo is a real contender, but Floyd is a champion. The young Mexican may have legions of fans, especially women, swooning at every left hook, but he also has some holes that Mayweather will look to exploit. Canelo’s best chance of winning this fight is getting to Floyd’s body early with his power, and then testing Mayweather’s chin in the later rounds, when he slows down. But this is much easier said than done.
We expect Floyd to dance more than in recent fights, and employ more lateral movement against the hardest-punching opponent he has fought in years. However, Mayweather’s defense remains sublime, and he should still be much quicker than Canelo to the punch. The real question will be how well each man can take the other’s blows. If Floyd can stand up to a a couple direct right hands, he should snag the biggest win (and payday) of his career.
And that payday could be astronomical, well over $100 million if everything goes right. The fight will certainly sell in the neighborhood of $70 per household and a million Pay Per View buys is a virtual certainty. Throw in Canelo’s superstar status south of the border, and 1.5 million PPV buys doesn’t seem like such a longshot. Then there’s the gate, the merchandise, the foreign rights, and all the other ways that The Money Team will look to profit off the fight. This could be the event that shifts Mayweather’s taste from cars to planes in just 12 rounds.
Rest assured we plan to be there on fight night, by hook or crook. I’m already pricing hotels and flights to Vegas. Here’s hoping no injuries derail this one, because we’ve only got so much room in the editorial budget for hopeless dreaming.
Smile big fight fans. This was one of the good days.
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