This Saturday night, September 14th one of the most highly anticipated title fights in boxing's recent history will take place between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez. On the line are the WBC, WBA, and Ring Junior Middleweight title. Two years ago the only anticipated fight that boxing fans wanted to see was Floyd 'Money' Mayweather take on Manny 'Pacman' Pacquiao; a long awaited matchup that seamed to grow bigger and bigger with every passing year it never happened. Unfortunately for the sport of boxing and boxing fans, the captivation to see that fight happen, passed when Manny Pacquiao ate a straight right from Juan Manuel Marquez to end the sixth round. Fortunately for fight fans, there are always new shooters out there looking to step into a big spot. Especially when that spot has been held for the better part of 15 years by Floyd Mayweather, who has not only mastered the art of boxing, but also the art of promotion, mainly by playing the villain for every fight. That big spot is going to be tested by a 23-year-old red head from Guadalajara Mexico; Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez.
Both fighters will enter the ring on Saturday night undefeated, with titles in their respective weight class. Floyd Maywether brings an unblemished 44-0 record with belts in welterweight (147), and junior middleweight (154). Alvarez sports a 42-0-1 record with two unified belts in the 154 division. For this fight however both camps agreed to a catch weight of 152 lbs.
While records and belts highlight their similarities, their styles both in and out of the ring could not be any different. Outside the ring, Alvarez is quiet and reserved often straying from media attention, which is protected here in the states by a language barrier. While Mayweather is not only outspoken, but he has grown into the self imposed moniker as 'the face of boxing'. Inside of the ring the only similarities these two have is complete mastery of their chosen approach of the 'sweet science'. Stylistically, the two are diametrically opposed, to the point of representing the yin and yang of boxing strategies.
Floyd Mayweather is first and foremost a defensive fighter, who relies on his quickness and a brilliant strategic sense in the ring. Mayweather has mastered a defensive style known as the 'Detroit' style; where a boxer stands with his shoulders perpendicular to his opponent, thereby cutting off half of his body as a target. What is brilliant about the defensive style he uses is that he can seamlessly move from defense to offense while in transition, he doesn't need to wait for his feet to make the shift. From there he mentally wears his opponents down with a skillful array of counter strikes. A sharp straight right, combined with a lightening quick hook, keeps his opponents off balance, never allowing them to unleash a powerful combination. This approach leads to Mayweather being ahead in points by the middle rounds of a fight. Knowing this, he trusts that his opponents must now 'sell out' more in order to get a big punch off and get back into the fight. This strategy is one that Mayweather has mastered, and has worked every time for 44 fights.
Canelo Alvarez is shorter and has a stockier build, he relies on a more physical approach. Although the 23-year-old possess technical defensive skills and quickness, he is an offense first fighter. The WBC, WBA, junior middleweight champ, earned his 42-0 record with a more 'old school' traditional style. Alvarez comes in squared up to his opponent with his hands protecting his chin. He then punishes his opponents early with vicious body shots, which set up home run shots in the later rounds. His strengths are in his left hook to the body, and a tight uppercut to the head when he muscles his way inside. During fights it seems that Alvarez is punching 'through' his opponents, rather that 'at' them. His aggressive style has lead to 30 KO's, 23 of which have come before the 7th round. In his last fight he fought then undefeated Austin Trout, who Canelo managed to send to the canvas in the 7th round for the first time in his career.
For both fighters, this fight arguably stands as the defining moment of each fighters career. For Mayweather (although he won't admit it), a win on Saturday may serve as the moment that quieted his critics once and for all about who he has beaten, and the 'super fight' that never was. Beating a fighter like Alvarez would leave little doubt about how he would have stood up to a hard puncher like Pacquiao, and serve to solidify his legacy as one of the greatest of all time.
As for Alvarez, well it goes without saying that this is the fight he has been preparing for his whole career. On Saturday night Canelo will step in the ring with the current ambassador of the sport. A victory for Alvarez will restructure the boxing landscape, and guarantee the young fighter an immortal status and the guy who beat the 'unbeatable'.