So continues our marathon coverage of one of the biggest fights of 2013, Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez on Showtime pay-per-view on Sept. 14. Previously: the meaning of Mayweather-Alvarez; a special edition of TQBR Radio; the undercard and week's schedule, previewed; keys to the fight parts I and II; how good Mayweather-Alvarez could be; a preview and prediction for Lucas Matthysse-Danny Garcia. Next: winning one for the redheads.
With Floyd Mayweather vs. Saul Alvarez fast approaching, I’ve blown my TQBR branded horn and assembled the staffers to sit at our roundtable and talk about the fight. The roundtable is, unfortunately, metaphorical; as we live on different sides of the world. Also, the horn was just an email.
But that shouldn’t matter — you won’t see this quality of insight/shit-talking anywhere else.
What would your strategy be if you were Canelo?
Patrick Connor: Canelo probably will not go through a major style change at this point in his career, but I would certainly try to employ more aggression than he showed against Austin Trout. Foolish aggression plays into Mayweather's style perfectly, so Alvarez needs to mix his more natural, counterpunching style with calculated fury in the right spots. Even if success against Floyd has been limited, much of it has come from opponents who braved incoming fire and let their hands go regardless.
Andrew Harrison: I'd have Alvarez hunting the body like Columbo on a missing person enquiry. Mayweather gives up his flanks while spinning and twisting his head, and it's here that Canelo can maximise his advantages: strength, power and gameness. The Mexican flashes quick, multi-punch combinations when he has a man pinned on the ropes and he'll need to against Floyd. Importantly, though, he mustn't worry about where they land — just lower his chin and let fly. It's tough to try and outscore an icon; Alvarez has to produce something dramatic.
Alex McClintock: If I were Alvarez’s team, I’d be having him pounding the pavement and doing conditioning work day and night. I really think his lack of stamina (or at least his tendency to fight in spurts) is going to hurt him in this fight. You can’t stand around taking a breather in front of Floyd Mayweather.
Jeff Pryor: I think Canelo has to apply pressure behind a thoughtful jab and try to trap Floyd on the ropes. Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya and Victor Ortiz all had success (to varying degrees) when Mayweather went defensive there and Canelo figures to have the best physical tools to get him in that same space. Once he does, he needs to vary his attack up and down. Maybe only one of five shots lands cleanly, but he needs to find gaps to do damage. Canelo might actually be a little bit like a cross between Cotto and Ortiz; the calm bombs away gunslinger of Cotto and the youth and speed of Ortiz… he can cause trouble. He needs to set his own intensity level high, throw punches and not fall into following Mayweather or settling into Floyd's pace.
Sam Sheppard: Intelligent pressure is the key. Although I’ve yet to see a fighter who can outthink Floyd in the ring, Canelo is far from a mindless bruiser and will need every ounce of his boxing acumen if he is to have a hope. It’s crucial that he doesn’t follow in Oscar’s footsteps and swing endless combinations at Floyd’s midriff whenever he has him on the ropes. It might have impressed the fans (and the occasional analyst) that night, but the vast majority of De La Hoya’s punches were ineffective, delivered with hope rather than lethal intent.
Tim Starks: These all strike me as worthy suggestions. I think he'll want to be basically like an amped up version of himself. Intelligent pressure is key, but it would need to be more pressure than he's previously demonstrated the capability for, because the pace he established against Trout won't cut it. If we knew Canelo couldn't be hurt by Mayweather, then reckless pressure might also do the trick. As a quality body puncher, working the body would be a smart move for Alvarez to further slow down Mayweather, who's more stationary above welterweight in his two voyages. As Alvarez is something like, as Jeff said, a mix between Ortiz and Cotto, he could maybe employ a version of Cotto's effective tactics — stepping in, stepping around, stepping back, keeping the pressure on but not getting careless — for longer than Cotto managed it, if not as intelligently. The problem is doing something somebody has done against Mayweather before means it probably won't ever work again. His best chance, then, is to land something huge. I'll go into more detail Friday after the weigh-in on all this in my final preview and prediction. More than most fights, weight is central to the outcome of this one.
How big do you think this card will be, could it break the PPV record? Hardcore fans are going crazy, obviously, but is there much enthusiasm from "casual fans" in your neck of the woods?
Patrick Connor: From my own experience, many casual fan types that I know are excited about the fight. That evidence is, of course, anecdotal. But there is obviously a lot of hardcore fan appeal, which is fantastic for us psychopaths. Unfortunately, our support doesn't tend to make huge dents in big PPV numbers. That said, The PPV numbers might not break records, but the exposure — when the card's popularity in Mexico is factored in — might be as wide or wider than some expect.
Andrew Harrison: The fight hasn't really registered over here. Most casual fans know Floyd but they almost certainly aren't aware of Alvarez. That won't impact on the PPV buy rate, of course, but it probably says something about the universal appeal of the bout. Saying that, I'm not sure that's any different to when Oscar and Floyd faced off; beating Oscar allowed the likes of Floyd, Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley to break into the mainstream.
Alex McClintock: I think the fight has broken through into the mainstream a little bit here down under. A friend of a friend asked me the other day what I thought about “Floyd fighting Oscar De La Hoya.” For a brief moment I thought I’d time travelled back to 2007, but then I realised he was talking about Canelo. I figure when people who have absolutely no idea about boxing are talking about boxing, it’s a good sign.
Jeff Pryor: I think the interest is there, higher than usual, in casual fans. I've stumbled upon more conversations than I normally do, even for a Mayweather fight… but I don't think they'll break the record. Canelo isn't known to most general sports fan. The one thing he has that most other Mayweather opponents haven't, however, is a real optimistic buzz about him. He's youthful, he's heavy handed and he's big. He looks formidable. I think there is an energy coming from hardcore fans that casual fans are picking up on.
Sam Sheppard: Across the water from the home of the brave, I’m not convinced it will break the record. Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse certainly sweetens the pot for dedicated fans, but I doubt it’ll do much for the overall numbers. De La Hoya was a pay-per-view phenomenon who drew in the vast majority of the buys when he fought Mayweather in 2007, despite what Floyd would have you believe. I don’t think Canelo’s at that level yet. Most of the non-boxing people I speak to recognise pictures but don’t know him by name. But, then again, they remember Mayweather primarily due to the demolition job he did on Ricky Hatton back in 2007 (rather than the fact that he’s the highest earning athlete in the world), so perhaps it’s just the uniquely introspective nature of the British public shining through!
Tim Starks: It won't break the record, unless (maybe) we're talking gross dollar amounts, some related records for which this fight has already allegedly broken. I think it could get close to 2 million buys, and I expect it to at minimum move into second place among reported figures for non-heavyweight fights, i.e. more than Mayweather-Mosley at 1.4 million or so, but we'll probably never truly be confident in the announced buy rate because Showtime never officially announced anything for Mayweather's last fight. So — I have indeed seen more interest from casual fans and stepped-up coverage, although I also have friends who aren't interested in coming to my PPV party because they're lost interest in boxing due to Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao never happening. Either that, or it's an excuse because they don't want to tell me I've got a piece of broccoli stuck between my two front teeth.
What are the best possible outcomes of the two main fights on the card, either for short term entertainment or the long term health of the sport?
Patrick Connor: In terms of causing discussion and a huge stir, stoppage wins by Danny Garcia and Alvarez would be huge. Canelo gaining in popularity and notoriety would probably be better on the long view, but neither Matthysse or Garcia are very significant draws right now, so figuring out the long-term righteousness of that match up is more difficult to figure out. But since Matthysse seems to have the heart and mind of boxing's die-hards, I might roll with a win from the Argentine.
Andrew Harrison: The best scenarios are upset wins; a result for Alvarez is the only story likely to crack mainstream news in the U.K. (which is a pretty good barometer on a fight's impact). Another easy trot out for Mayweather is a “meh” story. A revenge bout would be off the scale. Garcia seems to have more upside than Matthysse, in terms of mainstream appeal. A Ray Mancini-Art Frias style explosion would provide casual fans with their monies worth and make up for what's likely to be another uninspiring main event.
Alex McClintock: Have to say I agree with Andrew, the main event isn’t likely to be action packed, so an epic brawl between Matthysse and Garcia would probably see the sport gain some new fans (or at least lose less who feel ripped off after paying $75). Obviously Canelo winning would be good for the future of boxing, but I have a feeling we’ll be seeing plenty more of him, win or lose.
Jeff Pryor: For Matthysse vs. Garcia to turn into an action packed brawl that sees both men lay it out to win. Something worthy of a rematch. Or, as always, something definitive and shocking. In the main event, short term and long term I think the best outcome for the sport is a great fight, with drama. It's probably better if Canelo wins and particularly in violent fashion. It would plaster his face across sports pages around America and he'd instantly scrawl his name in the history books as the man who beat Floyd. That also creates two interesting story lines, with both men becoming more interesting. Another Floyd decision, while further evidence of his mastery won't generate much new enthusiasm and a Canelo loss will engender a shrug of indifference.
Sam Sheppard: From a personal point of view, as a bona fide Alvarez sceptic, the best outcome from the true main event would be Floyd knocking out Canelo (something I think is a decent possibility late on, depending on how his hands fare and the weight loss manifests itself). I would love to see the cinnamon hype-train derailed, and it would be funny to listen to the litany of excuses Oscar would invariably trot out in the aftermath.
Tim Starks: Just for short term entertainment, nothing would flip me out more than Alvarez stopping Mayweather. Like someone other than myself mentioned on the Radio show (sorry, I can't remember who said it!), I too would be screaming at a volume that put everyone's collective reaction to Antonio Tarver knocking out Roy Jones to shame. That's not about Mayweather hate, because I basically like and admire Mayweather in the ring. It's just that it would be as stunning as anything I've ever seen in boxing, in part because of how much Mayweather comes off as invincible. Also, I'm a big Matthysse fan, so another crushing win would tickle my fancy, although a Garcia upset would, everyone has convinced me, also be neat. (I hate it when people hold a fighter's associations against him, but considering that one of the side effects of a Matthysse win would be that Danny's dad/trainer Angel would self-decapitate, that would be a nice bonus.) Long-term, a close result in Mayweather-Alvarez would lead to another big money rematch, and give whoever wins Matthysse-Garcia a further chance to establish themselves as who's next for Mayweather, assuming he wins both or the second Alvarez bout.