Floyd is a master technician and that fighting mindset doesn’t allow him to take unnecessary chances, especially at a higher weight where there has yet to be evidence that he is capable of stopping a bigger man. Mayweather can certainly punch; he would have never achieved such heights is he couldn’t. But don’t expect him to suddenly pull power out of his bag of tricks because that’s one element of his game that has rarely been considered special.
2. Canelo needs to pressure Floyd to win. For a long time I wondered what could be the benefits of the Mayweather style of mitt work: that rhythmic slapping that looks pretty but wouldn’t appear to be of much use in a real fight. It wasn’t until I saw Andre Berto and David Haye working the mitts that I figured it out. Berto and Haye absolutely explode on the mitts so the first impression is, “Wow! Who’s going to be able to cope with that?” But following these bursts of world-class physicality there are long stretches of dead space (sounds like Canelo doesn’t it?) that carry over to how they fight in the ring. Floyd’s constant motion in training isn’t just about stamina; it’s about creating one, long stream of consciousness (sorry to get all Buddha on you- Namaste). In Floyd’s world there are no rounds or minute breaks; it’s a beginning and an end and the in –between is an unbreakable, meditative state of being. If Canelo is going to pull this off it’s not going to be a bull rush that gets it done. It’s going to be a mixture of things that interrupt Money’s trance. Floyd has seen it all but never all at once. If Alvarez is as special as many think he then it’s going to be a combination of combinations that will get him the victory.
3. Alvarez has questionable stamina. True, but not for the typical reasons. Canelo does become winded faster than you’d expect from such a young fighter. This has led many to believe that the Mexican star either does not train to full capacity or that he is simply not “blessed” with great stamina. Wrong. Canelo takes breaks within rounds because he has the unusual distinction of being both comfortable and tense in the ring. His body struggles to keep pace with his mind and the dichotomy produces a muscular tension that prematurely drains his energy. It’s like a tightly wound spring that has to be compressed before it is fully reloaded. As a personal trainer I see this all the time with athletes that haven’t found that middle ground between effort and relaxation. For boxers this can be a damaging flaw unless they learn something from it. (See #5)
4. Canelo is slow. What? I just don’t understand this one. All over internet blogs and You Tube channels, fans point out this erroneous assumption. Sure, Alvarez isn’t a speed demon the way we normally think of one but like the great Kostya Tszyu, Canelo’s measured approach belies just how sharp and fast he really is. Speed in itself is great but it’s useless without an intelligent navigator to transport its payload. Alvarez knows when and where to use the amount of speed he has and that makes it an unexpected weapon.
5. Floyd will pot-shot Canelo silly. With Mayweather, this is always a possibility because he’s, well; Floyd Mayweather. But let’s look at this way: his last few opponents: Robert Guerrero, Miguel Cotto and Victor Ortiz were never known for their defense and thus Floyd didn’t really need to make any of the adjustments he is noted for.
Alvarez, as I pointed out, isn’t fluid with his feet nor does he move his head a whole lot (the two things we often associate with brilliant defenders) but as Floyd has shown there are other ways to prevent opponents from landing cleanly (his famed shoulder roll, for instance). Canelo keeps his hands high and has quick reflexes which many of his past foes and sparring partners have pointed out. He doesn’t give you much to shoot at. Ironically, his tendency to fight in spots has by default, forced him to develop a rather sophisticated defense (say what you want about his opposition but we should have seen him hit more by now). When he stops to take a breather he doesn’t take an alarming amount of punishment (Berto) or move unnecessarily around the ring while he thinks about his next move (Haye). He keeps his opponent negatively engaged by letting them expend ineffective energy and luring them into counterpunches.
The typical Mayweather strategy of one-punch-at -a time offense isn’t going to get it done. He’ll have to figure out a way to score without the cooperation of his usual string of aggressive opponents- and Alvarez is smart enough to know that.
I’m with the majority on this one: I believe that Floyd will find a way to win. But unlike the majority I don’t think it’s going to be easy. I’d go as far as to say that this will be the hardest test Floyd has ever faced. Saul Alvarez is a complete boxer who’s on the upswing and he’s the naturally bigger man. He has a ring I.Q. that belies his years and brings attributes to the table that aren’t going to be as easily dismissed as many fans think. Whatever the outcome, this is a fight that boxing needs to help raise what has already been a great year for the sport. May the best man win.