In 1997, Bob Arum promoted the boxing match between Oscar De La Hoya and Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker. Whitaker had won a silver medal in the Olympics and was a multiple time world champion as a professional, yet after the fight Arum refused to promote a rematch, asking “who wants to see that again” (meaning Whitaker). Whitaker was a highly skilled fighter but his style was so defensive and lacking of “fireworks” that many fans, including Arum, considered him to be boring. Canelo Alvarez had the opposite problem. He is a young, promising fighter with a fan friendly-style that earned him a fight against Floyd Mayweather that many felt he was not ready for. On September 14, Mayweather showed that Alvarez was more hype than substance in their much-anticipated matchup.
Mayweather is considered by many to be the number one pound-for-pound boxer in the world. He is undefeated over a career that has seen him in the ring against some of the biggest names in the sport, including Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley. Alvarez also entered this contest with an undefeated record but only one of his wins came over a “name” fighter (Austin Trout).
There is an old saying in combat sports that “styles make fights” and this fight was made with that thought in mind. Mayweather is smaller, quicker and has incredible defensive skills. In fact, only Mosley was able to hurt Mayweather and even that was just momentarily. Mayweather uses his defensive abilities to frustrate and wear down his opponents until the later rounds, when he starts stringing together lightning-quick combinations.
Alvarez, on the other hand, is bigger and more heavy-handed but does not have the footwork of Mayweather and is much easier to hit. Alvarez is constantly moving forward and looking to back his opponent down where he can use his size and power. This style lends itself to big shots by both fighters, and the conventional thinking was that if Alvarez could implement his style he would be able to land big shots and maybe end stop Mayweather.
Another old saying in sports is that "speed kills,” and that is exactly what happened in this fight. Mayweather dominated the action from the opening bell with his speed and footwork. Alvarez had a hard time finding Mayweather, let alone hitting him. Mayweather was able to hit Alvarez so much in the early going that Alvarez began backing up, which seemed to make the already confident Mayweather even more so. By the end of the fight, Alvarez’s face was turning red from the accumulation of blows while Mayweather looked like he had not even been hit.
The judges scored the fight a majority decision for Mayweather, meaning that two judges scored the fight a clean win for Mayweather while the third, CJ Ross, scored it a draw. It should be noted that Ross scored the Tim Bradley-Manny Pacquiao fight for Bradley when most observers felt that Pacquiao won easily.
Alvarez has the potential to be a great fighter but he is clearly not a great fighter yet. Floyd Mayweather is a great fighter and this fight served to further that status. Alvarez can use this fight to see where he needs to improve and get to work. Improving his footwork would be a good place to start.