It was a big shocker late last night when Floyd Mayweather Jr. announced he was going to take on newcomer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez this September. Floyd had previously stated he only wanted to fight Alvarez at 147 and Alvarez stated that 154 lbs. was as low as he could go. It was posturing, of course, as now Floyd is coming off a dismantling of Robert Guerrero and Alvarez with his own win over Austin Trout. It’s a matchup made in pay per view heaven, as well, with Alvarez being the fresh-faced Mexican fighter with a burgeoning fan base and Floyd being the most bankable fighter in combat sports right now.
It’s something that Floyd can “underperform” at the box office in that regard and still clear over a million buys, from what sources have said, and Alvarez makes the most sense in that regard as well.
Showtime should be looking at 1.5 million buys (at a minimum) based on Floyd’s established audience, and the perception of what Alvarez should bring to the table, in what should be the biggest fight of 2013. People are already discussing that this could break Mayweather’s record against De La Hoya, as well, and between the hyperbole and the bare minimum Floyd brings to the table we’re looking at a reality of a massive, massive success. How big will be a good indicator of Alvarez’s true stardom at this point; he has yet to be the main point of a PPV but has drawn enough numbers on Showtime that we think he can add something substantial to the equation.
It was the best possible option for Floyd, of course, as his list of opponents was either a retread he’s beaten before (Juan Manuel Marquez, among others) or the usual fantasy matchup with Manny Pacquiao that fans still clamor for but won’t get. Floyd’s beaten nearly everyone else that matters, as well, and outside of Timothy Bradley there aren’t a whole lot of options for him in the way of new matchups. Floyd may be known for not fighting all that often but of all the guys who’d be suitable matchups for him there aren’t a whole lot of fresh faces. There doesn’t seem to be interest on either party for a Pacquiao fight, either, and Alvarez is seen as potentially the next big boxing superstar.
In every way it’s a super fight except one: competitiveness.
Floyd Mayweather is the best boxer on the planet on a pound for pound basis; that we know. It was debatable for a while, of course, up until the moment right after Pacquiao walked into Marquez’s fist and into unconsciousness. At that moment Mayweather moved into that #1 spot and hasn’t relinquished it. Robert Guerrero took a couple rounds from him but in the end Mayweather masterfully fought and defeated him. It’s been that way for a while for Mayweather; his dedication to his craft is still there despite all the TMZ fueled shenanigans that keep him in the news. His abilities have declined, as he’s lost a number of steps, but he’s managed to compensate for it accordingly as well.
Alvarez has slowly been surely been pushed forward, looking like a superstar along the way, but there was a funny thing that happened against Austin Trout: he didn’t look ready. Every fighter has that moment when they arrive, when they may not have the credentials to look like an elite fighter but the eyeball test confirms everything you think. Alvarez didn’t have that simple confirmation that showed he could take on Mayweather and have a good chance at winning.
Trout’s no slouch, of course, but Alvarez didn’t look like he was going to be capable of taking on Mayweather in the next 12 months and win. Alvarez has plenty on his side going into the fight, from a probable 20 lb. in ring advantage to a sizeable fan base to cheer him on, but the one thing he won’t have on his side is a good chance at winning. This is a “money” matchup for Floyd, nothing more.