Boxing

Five keys to Mayweather-Canelo fight

Inside Fights Scott Sawitz
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Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is being promoted as “The One” — as in the one that could finally end Mayweather’s substantial winning streak.

Floyd Mayweather

World Boxing Council champion Floyd Mayweather celebrates after beating and Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 4, 2013. Mayweather extended his perfect record to 44 victories, beating Robert Guerrero by unanimous decision in their welterweight title fight.

AFP PHOTO

Going into the fight we know a number of things. Floyd is coming off his shortest respite between fights in a significant period of time. A lot of records will come from this fight, which has the potential to be the biggest fight in combat sports history.

Slightly south of $19 million just from ticket goers alone, the fight will bring Mayweather a record $40 million plus minimum for his 36 minutes of work Saturday night. With a projected pay-per-view scope that could near two million buys, Canelo/Mayweather has that once-in-a-generation feeling. This is a big fight, perhaps the last true big fight Mayweather has left, and there’s a buzz.

Alvarez has long been touted as the guy to topple Mayweather and now he gets his chance, with a plethora of titles on the line. Alvarez’s WBA, WBC and The Ring light middleweight title are up for grabs alongside Floyd’s super light middleweight title. Can he do it? Or will Floyd make him another notch on his sterling record? These five factors will go a long way into determining the winner of Saturday’s fight.

1. Can Alvarez land clean?

Canelo has big-time power in his hands. He has won 30 of his 42 fights via KO/TKO, most recently stopping Josesito Lopez. But the one thing Floyd does better than anyone else is not get touched. His ability to make guys miss is legendary. Canelo struggled at times with Austin Trout, who is a similar style matchup as Floyd.

To win, Alvarez has to land — and Floyd has been tagged hard a number of times in wins. So Alvarez has to land clean. His power advantage is the only significant one he has in the fight outside of his youth. If he can’t land something big on Floyd, he's going to get picked apart. Floyd is masterful at avoiding punches, but others have shown that Mayweather's chin is potentially a weakness to be exploited. The problem is that no one’s really lit up on it yet.

2. Will the power of the moment be too much?

The one thing Floyd has that can’t be replicated is big fight experience. Floyd has been fighting nothing but big fights ever since he defeated Oscar De La Hoya. He knows how his body will feel, the adrenaline rush when he walks to the ring, et al. He’s comfortable because he’s been there and knows exactly how to prep.

Canelo hasn't and doesn't. He has been in big fights, but nothing of this scale before. Floyd is used to the attention, the interviews and the distractions that come with a fight this size. Canelo isn't.

3. Has Floyd lost enough for Canelo to catch him?

Floyd Mayweather has lost a couple steps off his prime game but is still better at what he does than anyone in boxing. He is also 36, 13 years older than Alvarez, and eventually age catches up with every man.

Will it for Floyd? We don’t know. From all accounts, this has been his best training camp ever. He avoided all of the legal problems that have plagued his past several fights and was, by all accounts, ready for the fight well before he needed to be conditioning-wise. But will the reflexes and movement that aid his counter-punching style have eroded enough for him to be less effective against a tough style matchup? We don’t know.

4. Is Saul ready for the pace Floyd is going to push?

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez

World Boxing Council SuperWelterweight Championship title holder Mexican Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (R) connects against Puerto Rican boxer Kermit Cintron (L) in Mexico City on November 26, 2011.

AFP PHOTO/Ronaldo Schemidt

Canelo has fought 12-round fights before in his career — that’s not the issue. The issue will be the pace Floyd sets early. He's renowned for his cardio, as he puts a pace on fighters that wilts a lot of them into submission.

Alvarez is coming down in weight, too, as he’s going to be cutting to 152 instead of his usual 154. Two pounds may not seem like a lot, but for a finely tuned athlete like Canelo it could mean a lot. He’s going to walk into their fight potentially in the best shape of his career. Will it be enough to stay with Floyd for 12?

5. Who’ll figure out the other first?

There are a couple of things we need to establish are going to happen. Floyd's going to start by feeling out Canelo for a round or two, see what Alvarez is going to do and adjust. He does it with everyone. Canelo is going to be the aggressor, most likely, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he worked the body early to slow Floyd down.

How will Floyd react when Alvarez tries to corner him and muscle him around the ring? How will Alvarez react when Floyd keeps slipping his punches and landing en masse? Floyd is crafty and slippery in the ring. Canelo has to get him cornered and slowed down. The quicker the better, of course, but Floyd Mayweather is the toughest out in boxing for good reason. Figuring him out is easy, but solving him is exceptionally difficult.

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