(Sep 14, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. [blue gloves] and Canelo Alvarez battle at their junior middleweight fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
We understand to a point, from watching Floyd Mayweather, that he is a true great. But too often, he's not given us the evidence of it that he could. Saturday night on Showtime pay-per-view, he gave us "beyond a reasonable bout" level evidence with a brilliant win over Saul Canelo Alvarez that made him the true junior middleweight champion of the world, his fourth lineal championship in his fourth division, matching the historical mark of his generational rival Manny Pacquiao and doing it with such ease that he might as well have been making a routine right turn in one of his Bugattis.
There will be people who will say, after this fight, that Alvarez was too green and not ready for someone like Mayweather. But when might he ever have been? Who would've been more competitive Saturday, if not Alvarez? Mayweather simply owned Alvarez, scoring a shutout on some fans' and writers' cards. I gave Alvarez the 2nd and the 8th, both of which were close rounds at best and maybe I was too generous. That C.J. Ross scored it a draw ought to make Nevada take away her high chair, and the 116-112 and 117-111 cards for Mayweather were even too friendly toward Alvarez.
Alvarez tried to force Mayweather to lead and counter him, an innovative if misguided approach. He didn't back down from Mayweather's mind games, at least, for all the good it did him. After seven rounds, it should've been clear it wasn't going to work anymore. Yet Alvarez never sold out, perhaps indicative of how much punishment Mayweather was dishing out, perhaps indicative of the chance that Alvarez was a little drained physically trying to get down to 152; he rehydrated to 165, rather than the 172 he rehydrated to in his last bout. Either way, 154 or 152, 23 years old or 25 years old, I didn't see anything that would've made this fight competitive. Alvarez might have done some things wrong, but Mayweather did so much right. The only person who knows what Mayweather is going to do in the ring is Mayweather. He varies up his offensive and defensive rhythms so tremendously that his undefeated record isn't merely a by-product of his cherry-picking of opponents.
Because Alvarez was not just the most financially viable opponent for Mayweather Saturday night — and Canelo, hugely popular with the Mexican fan base, will no doubt be back without much damage to his reputation — but he was also the most threatening opponent for Mayweather. He was. That's beyond question. The fact is, Mayweather is so much better than anyone around his weight class right now that not even his biggest available challenge presents a challenge at all. Who's going to be next for Mayweather, and can it matter as much as this fight, financially or competitively? Would new junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia, who won Saturday too, fare any better at all? Probably not. Only age beats Mayweather, 36, among any battles on the horizon.
This is what we wanted from Mayweather: He took the best man he could, and did to him what a once-in-a-generation boxer would do.