Tomorrow, the world stops to sit and watch the flamboyant Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather do battle with Mexico’s Saul ‘El Canelo’ Alvarez in what is undoubtedly boxing’s biggest fight ever. This boxing epic between two unbeaten, extremely popular stars is set to break gate records and pay-per-view records, and will set the standard for Business in Boxing 101 for the next few years.
The bout is billed as a match between age and youth, experience versus power, mental toughness against raw intensity. Money May, arrogant, obnoxious, uncouth. Against the ‘Cinnamon’, friendly, respectful, silent. Money May, with a 44-0 win-loss record, fast, street-smart, a maestro on defense. Canelo, 42-0, bigger, stronger, a steamroller on offense.
Who wins this monumental battle of boxing’s best? Some say that youth will overpower age in this bout. Some say it’s time to bring in the new, out with the old. But I daresay that Money May will once again go back to the bank merrily with his millions after this boxing lesson.
For all the hype about how good Canelo is, my beef with him is that, except for his near-loss to Austin Trout, he hasn’t really been tested yet. I mean, sure, he’s been up against Shane Mosley, but Shane was ready for the pastures by then. And yes, he’s been up against a Hatton, but this was the lesser known Matthew, not the more fancied Ricky. And there was a Cotto in Canelo’s resume too, but I’m sure the famous one was Miguel, not the brother, Jose Miguel. So if you believe the new era of boxing is dawning, think again. Mayweather will take this big young bully to school.
Money May. With only 26 of 44 bouts by knockout, but with an unblemished record nonetheless. A defensive genius. An even bigger genius at marketing himself and his fights. Yeah, I have to hand it to this guy. He may be obnoxious, he may be shrewd. He may be selfish, he may be a grandstand act. But he’s the best in pacing himself. On and off the ring. He knows how to whet fan appetite. He fights way ahead of fight night itself, choosing his opponents carefully, dictating terms and conditions, playing mind games, scoffing, ridiculing; at the same time, building up opponents to make the fights look truly interesting. Which obviously he has stacked in his favor. Indeed, this guy knows how to survive.
People ask, if he’s the cherry-picking SOB, why’d he choose to fight Canelo?
Well, his recent fight with Roberto Guerrero was a big fiasco. It was a lame, losing business deal for Showtime. It was a complete dud. And Money May has to recreate more excitement, otherwise charges of cherry-picking – clearly highlighted in the Guerrero fight – would continue to mount. People were getting bored with Money’s ‘all-talk, less-action’ package. The Money needed to man up, find a ring partner who was indeed a ‘credible risk’.
Next, there were no more worthy opponents in the horizon other than a guy named Manny Pacquiao.
And third, Money had to get him while Canelo was still young and less experienced. If Money May were to take on Canelo later, with his skills diminished by time – remember that the Money is 36 right now – his chances would be from slim to none. Thus, Money made the calculated risk to take the fight now.
Mayweather has a 6-fight, 30-month contract with Showtime. That deal started off with Guerrero this year. The Canelo fight is the second in the contract, with the winner of tomorrow’s undercard bout between Lucas Matthysse and Danny Garcia expected to take the third bout. He will have 3 more bouts before he calls it a career.
So will he? Or won’t he?
A fight with the Pacman will definitely complete Mayweather’s already impressive boxing resume. This bout, and this is not to put down tomorrow’s box-office hit with Canelo, will be the defining bout of his career. Should the Money fail to make this bout happen, his record will always be questioned and will pale in comparison to the likes of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Julio Cesar Chavez and all the other pugilists of old who were willing to trade mitts with the best of them.
I believe that the wise Money hasn’t completely closed the door on a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. I believe he knows the business potential of such a fight, which is precisely why he continues to stoke the flames. He knows that the Pacman’s shadow will continue to hound him, as it has in this campaign against Canelo. Money will closely watch the Pacquiao – Rios fight, and will observe how much of Pacquiao’s skills still remain. And he will make his decision then. He wants a standing ovation for an encore. To be recognized as ‘the face of boxing’ today. He could be reserving the best for last.
My magic mirror, Moira, says: I see a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight on the Money’s fifth bout, with the sixth being a possible rematch. Dream with me, folks, for dreams pave the way to reality.
(photos courtesy of hbo.com, si.com, theguardian.com, peterbee1953.wordpress.com)