Wars to Be Made in 2013: Mayweather vs. Canelo
A long-tenured king against meets an ascending young lion. America’s most brilliant boxer against Mexico’s most coveted warrior prodigy…
Wars are waged for many reasons. Revolution. Revenge. Respect. Riches. Resistance. In boxing, a fighter enters the ring with a myriad of forces at work: training preparation; the quality of the team/camp; commitment to the craft; mental, spiritual, and physical fortitude. It can take years to build a champion atop the sport, and just seconds to flatline a fighter’s ascent. 2012 provided breathtaking moments of masterpiece pugilism, drama, controversy, and unexpected theater. 2013 will likely follow suit as another Gregorian calendar year presents itself to the boxing world. In a sport replete with unthinkable plot twists, no expert can ever be too certain of outcome, yet one thing always remains the same.
There will be war in the squared circle.
Floyd Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs) vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs)
For years, Mayweather-Pacquiao was the biggest fight to be made in boxing. That ship has since sailed. Endless sequences of bad faith negotiations, a brilliant Juan Manuel Marquez counter right hand, and an aging rivalry that has lost its allure have waned the enthusiasm for the mega-fight that never was. Now, 2013’s biggest fight would feature Mayweather against Mexico’s beloved young prodigy, Canelo Alvarez. Two undefeated champions at opposite sides of the boxing spectrum. While some kings have been dethroned, Mayweather remains securely at the apex of the sport as the pound-for-pound king. At 35, Mayweather’s wizardry has never been sharper. Some say he doesn’t move as much and employ the same footwork, but his upper body strength has increased and his punches are heavier. Some say he has lost a step of quickness, but his timing has never been better. Some argue his fights were always boring and one-sided, but his epic battle against Miguel Cotto in May was nothing short of electric, filled with high-risk exchanges in virtually every round. Opinions of Mayweather vary, but the respect he warrants from the boxing world is undeniable. He has fought at the highest level, dominating the sport for over a decade without a single blemish on his dossier. In recent years, Mayweather has taken intriguing fights, and while his May 4th date with Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero is a mismatch that leaves much to be desired, it is likely a precursor to a later 2013 showdown with boxing’s young lion, Canelo Alvarez, who himself has been public about negotiations with Mayweather.
For Canelo, 2012 was a bizarre year. He simply could not find an opponent who could catapult him into boxing’s top tier. Whether it was James Kirkland, Victor Ortiz, Paul Williams, or Miguel Cotto, Canelo was set to fight all of the aforementioned in 2012, yet the science had other plans. Kirkland agreed to fight Canelo, and then rescinded the contract, opting to instead duck Canelo (and a handsome payday in the process.) Josesito Lopez chopped down Victor Ortiz in a surprising upset in a fight that was supposed to be an Ortiz tune-up in preparation for Alvarez. Paul Williams suffered a tragic accident that forced his showdown with Canelo to be canceled. Finally, Miguel Cotto just recently lost to Austin Trout in a fight that was staged to set up a Canelo-Cotto showdown that would have been huge. Alas, Cotto fell victim to the theater of the unexpected as well, and now that fight has lost the considerable steam it had built up. All of the aforementioned matches were considerably risky for Canelo, and would have provided him the litmus test needed to enter boxing’s elite terrain.
It’s not as if Canelo’s one-sided conquest against the likes of Josesito Lopez, Shane Mosley and Kermit Cintron weren’t impressive—they most certainly were. But he is ready for a step-up, and his team feels he’s ready to compete against the very best.
Canelo wants a marquee matchup, and there is no bigger name than Floyd Mayweather, no bigger accomplishment in the sport than dethroning the sport’s most impenetrable champion, no higher risk, and no greater reward. Some argue that Canelo needs to be more patiently managed, saying he isn’t ready for a mega-fight with Mayweather. There’s merit to that perspective, but opportunities to fight and defeat a legend like Mayweather do not come around often. This may be the only opportunity Canelo has to compete against Mayweather, given Floyd’s boxing mileage and age. At 22 years old, few if any would consider a defeat to Mayweather to be insurmountable, and Canelo would gain invaluable experience and pugilistic wisdom while earning the payday of his dreams in a fight that would generate massive PPV numbers.
Perhaps most enticing of all possibilities for Canelo is this: He actually has a chance against Mayweather. Sporting a legitimate (and growing) middleweight frame, Canelo has physical advantages over Mayweather. He’s a big, strong junior middleweight who likes to mix it up, and has poise beyond his years. Despite Mayweather’s absolute dominance in outclassing Mosley, he was caught in that fight against a bigger man. We all saw what Canelo did to Shane Mosley, bullying him repeatedly as the bigger and stronger fighter. Mayweather was visibly smaller than Mosley, and would be considerably smaller than Canelo. This would be a tougher fight for Mayweather than Pacquiao, and he would deserve tremendous credit for taking such a challenge. Still, size is but one facet, and not the most determinative. Mayweather’s mastery of craft, reflexive ability, defensive wizardry, and counterpunching/timing would present Adept-level challenges to Canelo, who has at times drifted in fights and looked mysteriously inactive, technically deficient, and unsure of how to adapt. However, he has always been able to shift into the highest gear, finding openings and launching passionate flurries of high-rate combination punching that has overwhelmed everyone he has faced. After seeing Mayweather experience moments of vulnerability against Cotto on the ropes, it is intriguing to consider Canelo’s chances in those tight quarters, where his pedigree as the most dynamic combination puncher in the division would attempt to crack the Mayweather shell that has remained pristinely intact throughout the years.
This is the type of drama boxing needs: A long-tenured king against an ascending young lion. America’s most brilliant boxer against Mexico’s most coveted warrior prodigy. High risk, high reward. A war of will, skill, and thrill. A fight that can shake up the power structure or further cement a longstanding reign. This is what boxing is all about, and this is the return of the annual “Wars to be Made” series.
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