Since any Mayweather fight now begins and ends with PPV numbers, let us begin with the September 14th Saul Alvarez vs Floyd Mayweather bout being projected to break the De La Hoya/Mayweather PPV record of 2.4 million, or at least that’s the hyped target. Whether or not the resulting PPVs will be enough to adjust the negative red ledger of the much ballyhooed Mayweather Showtime contract into the black is unknown. Showtime wisely didn’t publicize losses from the Guerrero fight, perhaps anticipating this fight to make up their losses.
Both fighters have almost identical undefeated records, Alvarez at 42-0-1, 30 KO to Mayweather’s 44-0, 26 KO, in theory an Las Vegas based dream fight, but look again. Both are pure boxers though Mayweather started off as a powerhouse of note and Alvarez has a healthy knockout punch when he choses. They both fought boxer types in their last bouts generally accorded as fairly dull in terms of fight action. Mayweather refused to engage more than his footwork save for two modest rounds of action and Alvarez mostly feinted and countered a cautious counter puncher though he did score a nicely timed highlight knockdown that briefly got the San Antone crowd rocking.
Let us travel far far away to a distant galaxy of reality when once upon a time there was the Montreal classic between Panamanian legend Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard to conjure up another huge Latino vs USA fight. The 24 year old undefeated Leonard was still a little wet behind his Olympic Gold medal ears and not yet the American legend he would become, but he was making his second defense of his WBC title won off 21 year old wiz Wilfredo Benitez. The 29 year old wildman Duran was at his raging never to be seen again peak with 71 victories, mostly by KO after having dominated the lightweight division against a single loss avenged twice by knockouts for good measure, the days when boxers were still fighters, not the posers and preeners of today.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The first Duran/Leonard pillar to post donnybrook got the juices roiling most everywhere within and outside of boxing, but frankly, I don’t see this fight in the same legendary vein in terms of international legacy or terms of ring action. Mayweather is well off his prime days no matter how much the Al Hayman Golden Boy News of the Ring World and Showtime want to promote him beyond his sell date, and in spite of the Mexican hype, Alvarez lacks the US public awareness of the heavily touted Gold Medalist Leonard or the international legend of Duran for this fight.
However, Alvarez is the latest thing to hit the boxing big stage at this point, so figure on the promotion to leverage his cherubic youth for all it’s worth since he doesn’t look the prototypical Mexican assassin to the rest of the world. It will be heresy if the usual antisocial media muffins littering the internet ever find out that the just turned 23 year old Canelo is actually further along in the fight game compared to Leonard and Mayweather when they had just turned 23. He’s also ahead of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and the great Duran when they had just turned 23.
If Alvarez wins this fight, “if” being the major sticking point pending results, he would be well ahead of any listed above. He is in the same ballpark for now as all the great Latino fighters in that “boxing experts” never project a young 3rd world Latino fighter to be an all time great until after the fact becomes glaringly obvious by consensus opinion of three blind mice. The 17 year old Wilfredo Benitez was one obvious exception with monumental things being predicted for him that he ultimately never achieved in spite of his HOF accomplishments.
Just turned 23 year old phenoms ahead of Alvarez would include Mike Tyson who had completely unified 3+1 Ring belt , and incredibly Wilfredo Gomez who was 11-0, 11 KO in WBC title fights by the time he turned 23. Fellow Mexican Salvador Sanchez was closest to Alvarez, 8-0, 4 KO in WBC title fights by age 23, not bad company at all to be in league with not to mention the Sanchez record was almost identical when he turned 23, 42-1-1, 31 KO, veeerily eerie that one. By then Sanchez had also claimed the Gomez undefeated scalp by spectacular knockout if we want to consider just how quickly forgotten the sublime genius Sanchez has become in this modern era of tinman greats making millions upon millions for too often showing more bravado in their prefight pressers and ring entrances than their fights themselves.
“All knowing experts” were also saying that Alvarez was too young and inexperienced for Mayweather before the fight was announced, ignoring the perfect promotional track that Alvarez has been on for 3 years now designed exactly for the Mayweather challenge. The kid clearly has ambitions far beyond the speed at which he’s been developed, so now a chastened herd of experts scramble to give him his chances in order to get the promotional bandwagon moving. The slick Giampa News of the Ring World P4P Czar even maneuvered Alvarez into a Ring P4P slot once the fight was agreed much like they did for Robert Guerrero when he signed against Mayweather. They must have had a frightful shock when they came across my Ring P4P history of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather here that Pacquiao has only added to since:
Ring couldn’t be more disingenuous if they tried, but they do try hard in their dishonorable quest so late in the game to make up for the lost P4P years of Mayweather’s career.
In spooky contrast, the 36 year old Mayweather is eerily on the same track as the in and out of retirement version of Sugar Ray Leonard who chose a stink and run style to “defend” his ill begotten “WBC supermiddleweight title” against 38 year old Duran in their belated rubber match. There are are precious few fighters able to chase a Leonard or a Mayweather around the ring for 12 rounds for a clean KO as Robert Guerrero recently tried which is the only way a fighter can bypass the political decisions and preferential referee treatment star fighters receive, especially since this fight is being contested in Mayweather’s home, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The 35 year old Leonard finally met his Waterloo when he came out of retirement the next year to challenge 23 year old young gun Terry Norris who delivered a beating and a half on Leonard he was lucky to survive. Eerie number correlations and fight styles aside, every fight and fighter is different even if career parallels can be drawn. Mayweather has been much cagier in his career to limit his physical damage and stays in training year round for his one fight, but now he’s going for his 2nd fight of the year, a huge leap for him.
Lest anyone think I’m “hating” on Mayweather, his record speaks for itself, a “perfect” 44-0, but exclusively a WBC union card fighter until recently, never having once unified a title and never holding more than 25% of the available titles in any of his 5 divisions of 21 title fights. Wladimir Klitschko has held all but the WBC title that his brother Vitali holds, 20-2 in title matches overall, considerably more impressive than Mayweather’s WBC fetish as an example of an era peer comparison. The same could also be said of Manny Pacquiao and Roy Jones Jr as two other multiple belt P4P stars, Jones especially owning just about every Lightheavy title fabricated by the worldwide ABCs.
Alvarez also happens to be WBC centered and with Golden Boy Promotions as is Mayweather, thus the impetus for making this fight conveniently inevitable in spite of a recent “promotional” spat the two fighters had earlier in the year. Alvarez is primarily a ring centered boxer/puncher who can slug, fight, or box as needed, but he’s never had to chase down a sprinter wearing track shoes in the supersized ring dimensions this fight will be contested, dimensions that likely will never be published but can be inferred when the fighters enter the ring. The fight could only be made at a 152 lb catchweight with no details on rehydration limits imposed on Alvarez.
While the Canelo final legacy has many more years of hurdles to come, he gave early notice of his potential as a precocious 15 year old when he outpointed future IBF lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez and in the rematch two years later. Alvarez probably could have handled a title shot in 2010 when he easily defeated the likes of Mayweather sparring partner Lovemore N’dou after blasting out Carlos Baldomir whom Mayweather scarcely dented in a wide points decision. In 2011 he won his title by beating Matthew Hatton who had been an early frontrunner for a Mayweather fight the year before. That’s three Mayweather associated fighters in a row Alvarez has used to play pin the donkey on Mayweather on his way to the 154 lb WBC title.
Using the Boxrec comparison of a fighter’s last 6 bouts, incredibly the Mayweather inactivity stretches way back to 2007 against Ricky Hatton. In 2007 Saul Alvarez was just 17 years old, a year before his American debut on his way to adding 24 more wins to his undefeated record that now includes a 6-0 WBC title record for his last 6 fights. That includes two more title fights than Mayweather has been engaged his last 6 years, so these are two different worlds they currently operate in.
Since Mayweather has been extremely inactive compared to the hyperactivity of Alvarez, perhaps his last 3 fights would be a more informative “up to date” comparison: Mayweather last played Mr. Chickenman, “he’s everywhere, he’s everywhere” against Robert Guerrero to cop the decision after promising to go toe to toe. The only two fighting rounds were when Mayweather had the better 7th round than Guerrero had the better 8th round, otherwise Mayweather refused to engage and Guerrero couldn’t catch up to him. The year before he traded heavy artillery against Miguel Cotto in a fan classic to pull out the win, leading the herd of “experts” to conclude Mayweather’s legs would be suspect against Guerrero and he would be forced to fight, no kidding! Lastly, who can forget his choreographed farce with Victor Ortiz and Joe Cortez in a superb remake of the all time Muhammad Ali, Sonny Liston, Jersey Joe Walcott travesty? Thanks to that Academy performance Vic Ortiz got a big offer to star in the Expendables “muscled up” action cartoon fantasy that Hollywood specializes in, so he set aside boxing for acting, I kid you not!
Which Mayweather will show up come fight night depends much on the referee tapped for the fight and the selection of judges. Alvarez coasted an easy decision based on the WBC open scoring rules for his last fight against Austin Trout for example. Some criticized Alvarez for a lack of action compared to previous efforts, but why should a boxer take unnecessary risks with his eye butted open when the Mayweather fight been so long planned for?
We do know now the well experienced Kenny Bayless is the ref, but when I first tried to check his record, all I could get on Boxrec was a glossy promotional page promoting this fight. I do know he messed up the Pacquiao/Marquez rematch when he failed to call the obvious 2nd knockdown after correctly calling the first knockdown, then to compounded his error, he had to grab the wobbly Marquez from sitting on Pacquiao’s corner stool to guide him to the Marquez corner so out on his feet poor Marquez was.
Nor could I check on the announced judges, Dave Moretti, CJ Ross and Craig Metcalfe after the same glossy promo interference popped up. Offhand I recall CJ Ross as one of the two butchers of the Pacquiao/Bradley much derided scoring. It’s a shame that the supposed independent organization of Boxrec has allowed these promotional ads to interfere with their operations, but such is a prime example of the reach of a big promoter and broadcaster, so I need not bother with any more research into the ring officials. It is what it is.
History will show that the legend of Mayweather automatically upgraded to the best American boxer 9 years ago after the legend of Roy Jones took a guided missile on the tiny sliver of his exposed chin left open for Antonio Tarver to crack. It is unfortunate that Mayweather and current P4P American compatriot Andre Ward can scarcely be bothered to fight but once a year these days, but that seems to be OK with the new generation of American boxing media and fight fans who seem more oriented on talking about all the fighters they could beat rather than see them in action actually beating someone.
Today’s softer and kinder American punchers can’t compare to the straight up wars that Duran, Leonard, Hearns and Hagler waged in multiple fights with each other not so long ago featuring high level action in thrilling encounters. The last two prime American P4Pers who fought in the traditional American “no quarter asked or given” style were Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams, regrettably retired now before they ever had a chance to fully develop.
Such is the current American boxing scene that Alvarez faces as the staked out sacrificial goat for another canned hunt that could ultimately see Mayweather tied with Rocky Marciano at 49-0. Look a little closer and you might just see Oscar de la Hoya duking it out with Al Hayman for future promotional stakes projected when the 81 years ancient Bob Arum finally rolls over to the great Valhalla in the sky. Golden Boy and Hayman would then be thrown into a perfect storm for control of boxing.
Just think of the Roman Empire and the hundred plus “Ceasars, Augusti, Emperors, Popes and assorted sordid split titles of command they created after most every new leader was poisoned or stabbed to death when not run out of town skewered on a split rail. Boxing may be less vicious than the Roman Empire, but when big money is at stake, Ides of March power is leveraged until stability of leadership is reestablished.
Monkey business alert: Oscar De La Hoya had been providing spooky updates on his substance abuse recovery all while Mayweather skewered him at a press conference for being no more than a front man for GBP. Then De La Hoya entered drug rehab 4 days before the fight, leaving his number one star “unprotected” against the hometown Vegas fighter.
The sly Hayman has been using Golden Boy to promote his growing stable of fighters and on record as saying he could “easily” come to control boxing as he steadily moves to the forefront in stealth mode. Golden Boy provides a handy tool to organize the complicated often nasty work of a fight card without the need for Hayman to set up shop for himself. As manager/advisor of Floyd Mayweather, his number one client makes both Hayman and De La Hoya more money for the year than the rest of their fights and fighters combined. That they finally sweet talked Mayweather into “speeding up” his career by dangling the Showtime plum indicates they can at least cooperate to obtain such a sweet goal, but Showtime is currently in financial dispute with Time Warner cable going into this fight. Maybe they can kiss and make up, when we can’t know.
Oscar De La Hoya has been desperate for a mega star since his own star faded and may well have found him in Alvarez. This kid has managed to keep his head mostly screwed on outside of boxing and let his fists do the talking inside the ring. Oh, there was the unseemly publicized dustup with former fly champion Archie Solis who reportedly tried to make time with Canelo’s girlfriend and a child born out of wedlock, all pretty mild stuff for a young fighter who has literally had much of Mexico at his feet since he was a teen phenom.
We could have some prefight fun by superimposing their last fights: The action starts with the usual light sparring to make the rubes think a legit boxing match is shaping up with some light tapping and movement. In the 2nd round Canelo backs to the ropes slipping and ducking imaginary punches as Money contorts his body bouncing off ropes on the other side of the ring running from his imaginary pursuer.
Certainly stranger scenarios have played out in boxing, but for boxing to have a shred of respect left, this, the “biggest” fight that can be made this year needs to be a legitimately officiated without the WWE choreographed farce of recent Showtime and Golden Boy involved “events.”
Speaking of WWE, here’s the WBC first ever first edition superduper special “solid gold” blarney belt for the coronation, promoted as having “two kilograms of gold” in it. Such blarney shall have to suffice as tribute by the WBC poohbahs of boxing to this “event.”
Not to be outbuffooned, the WBA answered by creating it’s own superduper bauble belt. This “event” pits their “co-super” beltholders against each other for the WBA superduper unification bauble. Yes folks, truth is stranger than fiction in the current boxing world.
Interestingly enough Mayweather shares an obsession with large bags of money just like the undefeated heavyweight Rocky Marciano if we want to examine further eerie connections. Marciano died in a tragic plane crash without anyone ever stepping forward to tell where he squirreled away his stash of millions in cash. His family was left impoverished dependent on various benefits and sympathetic contributors. No need to be a brain surgeon or genius forensic scientist to see that publicly stashing millions in cash in your home is a tragedy in waiting, but Mayweather does employ a squadron of NFL sized behemoths to guard his 150 lb prized perfect record from being folded, spindled or mutilated. Presumably that would include his greenery and gold.
Mayweather is currently closing in on the record of another “25% percenter” era peer Joe Calzaghe who posted a perfect 46-0 before retiring at age 36. Calzaghe unified at age 33 on his way to 21 title defenses before moving up to claim the Ring lightheavy title from Bernard Hopkins. Mayweather has 13 title defenses of his credit though he did climb through 5 divisions to claim belts, but since has been silly gobslopping willy nilly around winning belts he never defends as he flits in and out of retirements or jail. Further comparison shows Calzaghe also suffered from glass hands in his last years similar to Mayweather’s china hands, but a big difference between the two was that Calzaghe was almost completely ring center offensively oriented combination puncher whereas Mayweather uses defensive strategies as his major orientation of avoiding contact in a contact sport to more carefully select his punches.
Aside from PPVs, I see Mayweather’s greatest boxing “legacy” of being pretty much a self trained fighter not needing much fight input other than someone to work the pads for him. His family of trainers, Floyd Mayweather Sr and uncle Roger Mayweather, they are not the HOF trainers most all time greats were fortunate to hook up with. Their corner advice is usually either unrelated to any problem or incomprehensible Mayweatherese dialect not readily translated. Where would Muhammed Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard be without Angelo Dundee for example, or Thomas Hearns without Emmanuel Steward? Trainers like that are like having another ring general at your side to break down strategy or replenish sagging fortitude.
The worst boxing legacy of Mayweather will be his insistence on drug testing changes that have thrown boxing into a sewer of bogus drug testing experimentations that have been laughable in their oversight. The resulting freefall has allowed the infamous BALCO associated duo of Victor Conte and Angel Heredia into training camps to foist their majic elixirs of performance on selected fighters. Mayweather and his promotional team have yet to answer for Mayweather Promotion fighters Mickey Bey and J’Leon Love being busted by standard drug testing procedures, nor have they answered well publicized allegations of failed drug tests by Thomas Hauser here:
Noteworthy of mention are the two other biggest fights of the year being staged after Mayweather/Alvarez. Two weeks later the top British heavyweights square off in jolly olde England as Tyson Fury and Mr. David Haye vie for contender supremacy. One week after that many belted heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko defends against Russian Alexander Povetkin in Moscow. There is nary a single American heavyweight in Ring rankings. Aging welterweight Mayweather is the last untarnished American legend standing between the history of boxing and near American oblivion. Most of the top fighters these days with American addresses are Eastern Europeans and latino nationals, a sure sign of the future face of boxing, and there isn’t a whole bunch of them either.
We’ll have to see which boxing jurisdiction, the US, the UK, or Russia will stage the type of reputable classic that would boost the faltering boxing corpse on the gurney. The time is now to forsake these posturing three ring circuses that have driven the newer generation of fans to the UFC and other MMA related martial sports, but will American boxing ever learn or will it continue in decline with the average sporting fan. Mayweather paydays have outsized the actual fighting of his career, but Americans have spoken with their pocketbooks, so be it.