September 14th, live on pay per view, the biggest, most anticipated fight of the year will take place in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV, as Floyd "Money" Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs) will take on the young, hungry, and talented Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs). Canelo will put his WBC and Ring Magazine Super Welterweight (154 lbs.) titles on the line against Mayweather in the catchweight bout at 152 lbs. It will be the biggest fight of Canelo's young career, as the Mexican fighter is only 23 years old to Mayweather's 36 years of age. Here we start with keys for each fighter, and then a prediction to take to the bank.
Keys for Mayweather
We'll start with Mayweather, who will come in the healthier of the two fighters, as he will not struggle to make 152 pounds, and will have more "big fight" experience. Mayweather is a master of the "sweet science", as he uses his lightning hand speed and defensive ability to continually keep his opponents guessing. He is an outstanding counter puncher and rarely gets hits with a flurry or power punch. Even when Mayweather is against the ropes he is a defensive wizard and avoids damage with his world class use of his front shoulder. Mayweather uses his entire body and god given gifts on defense so much better than anyone in the world right now.
With that in mind, Mayweather just needs to stick to being Mayweather. He'll need to keep a pace knowing Canelo had to make a lighter weight and had some issues with condition against Austin Trout. Mayweather needs to consistently pop his jab and stay moving around the middle of the ring. Mayweather needs to circling out if Canelo plods forward and keep this fight in space where he can consistently use his speed and counterpunching ability to keep Canelo guessing. Mayweather should pick up his pace as the fight goes and test Canelo's gas tank. A strong jab and counter right hands are a staple in Mayweather's game and he'll need to stick to it.
Keys for Canelo
The first key for Canelo is to make weight without killing his chances. If his body does not react well to losing the extra two pounds, he should come in at 154 lbs and take the penalty. The extra two pounds might seem small to the everyday population, but for someone sucked dry, it's hell. Canelo needs to focus on winning the fight because that will do more for his legacy than losing the fight by killing himself to make weight.
Past the scales, Canelo obviously realizes that he is the bigger, stronger, and younger man. Some pundits say Canelo needs to tone his aggression back somewhat, but I disagree. Mayweather is the better pure boxer, but Canelo has the power to change the fight with one shot. Every time Canelo hits his opponent there is that memorable "pop", which sticks in the minds of fans and judges. Though Canelo threw less punches in his fight against the highly talented Austin Trout, his power and damaging blows were the difference.
I think Canelo needs to take some pieces from Miguel Cotto and Oscar de la Hoya. De la Hoya was a master at stealing rounds late and going to the body. Cotto proved that it is possible to damage Mayweather. Canelo needs to use his jab and get Mayweather moving backwards. If he can get Mayweather on the ropes and pound away at the body, he has a chance to take close rounds and slow Mayweather down. I think the strategy of using doses of body work is key because Mayweather will most likely be the fighter more ready to go 12 rounds with a quick work rate. If Canelo can slow Mayweather down, he has a better chance in late rounds, and a better chance at landing power blows. Canelo should be looking for his short right uppercut, which is arguably his most underrated punch. His uppercut did damage against Trout, and surprises his opponents. Canelo needs to dictate, and cannot just look for one shot, like Shane Mosley. If he is going to win, he needs to earn it.
It is amazing that though Alvarez is only 23, he has only one less fight than Mayweather. The questions when predicting the fight have brought this point up often. Will Mayweather finally look old? Is Canelo ready? To answer the first question, I don't see Mayweather getting old overnight. The key to that is that he has never taken significant damage, which makes him look much younger than a typical 36 year old. To answer the second, Canelo is ready, and is talented enough to win.
My first prediction is that Canelo makes 152 pounds. He's too hungry, no pun intended, to miss weight for this fight. He has earned this opportunity and wants no questions lingering over his head.
I see the first six rounds of the fight being very close, and would not be surprised if Canelo was ahead four rounds to two going into round seven. To me, Mayweather is going to take over late with his pace. Canelo, though he was still doing damage, started to fight in some spurts against Trout. Once Canelo starts slowing down, Mayweather will outwork him and start bagging rounds. I see Mayweather winning a unanimous decision.