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Mayweather-Alvarez: A Preview

The most anticipated fight in a long time will take place tonight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, as Floyd Mayweather, the best boxer of his generation, takes on the undefeated Mexican Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. At stake will be Mayweather’s WBA and Alvarez’s WBC junior middleweight (154 pound) belts. At the insistence of Mayweather’s camp, the fight is taking place at a 152-pound catchweight, intended to neutralize Alvarez’s size advantage.

The weigh-in took place yesterday afternoon. The event was a media circus, as more than 12,000 packed the arena and others were turned away. Both boxers made weight. It wasn’t easy for Canelo to get down to 152, and some speculate that he may outweigh Mayweather by as much as 20 pounds when they enter the ring. To me, the most salient feature of the weigh-in was that Mayweather looks to be in superb condition:

Mayweather, 44-0, is the heavy betting favorite. My son tells me that in Vegas, more than half of all bets have been placed on Alvarez, but every six- or seven-figure bet is on Mayweather. Which tells you what you need to know: most casual fight fans are hoping that someone can finally beat Mayweather, but those who study boxing for a living are uniformly behind the long-time champion, now 36 years old–still near his prime, by the standards of today’s athletes.

But Alvarez is a remarkable fighter. Only 23, he has already fought 43 pro bouts, and is 42-0-1. The red-haired Alvarez, whom the New York Times might classify as a “white Hispanic”–Canelo is Spanish for cinnamon–is hugely popular in Mexico, and like most top Mexican fighters is fearless and aggressive. We saw his last fight, against the formidable Austin Trout, in which Alvarez scored a unanimous decision.

An interesting statistic, also via my son: Mayweather, a defensive genius, has the best numbers against power punches since those statistics have been kept. Only 21% have landed. On the other hand, Alvarez lands the highest percentage of power punches of any active fighter, at just over 50%. So tonight’s fight features the irresistible force against the unhittable object.

Millions of pay per views are expected to be sold. Alvarez is guaranteed $12 million, and Mayweather could clear anywhere from $40 million to $100 million, if sales go through the roof. We are buying the fight card and hosting a party; the undercard is terrific, too. The second most eagerly awaited fight is Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse, for the WBC and WBA junior welterweight titles. Garcia is the undefeated champion, but the Argentinian Matthysse, 34-2, is a slight betting favorite and is getting most of the attention. Matthysse is a devastating puncher–32 of his wins are by knockout–with a wicked left hook. Lots of fight fans speculate that if Mayweather beats Alvarez and Matthysse gets by Garcia, it will set up a Mayweather-Matthysse bout in which Matthysse will have the proverbial puncher’s chance of beating Floyd.

Maybe. Hope springs eternal. But Mayweather’s skills are such that, until the day comes when someone finally beats him, the smart money will always be on the champ.

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