By Ivan G. Goldman
Video clips of Canelo Alvarez fiercely attacking the heavy bag in preparation for Floyd Mayweather were reminiscent of Ricky Hatton doing the same thing as he got ready for the same opponent – with two big differences. Canelo is bigger, stronger, hits harder, and is a more complete fighter than Hatton was, and Floyd, 36, is almost six years older than he was when he overwhelmed the English bulldog.
The footage back in 2007 made some analysts — who didn’t seem to understand that Mayweather moves a lot smarter and quicker than a lifeless object — believe Hatton had a good chance.
And what remains the same? Mayweather still has fragile hands, except this time around they’re six years older.
What we watched this weekend in the second installment of Showtime’s All Access reality programming hyping the Sept. 14 superfight opened my own mind wider to the possibility that Floyd could actually lose. Yes, the great Mayweather with his superior speed, experience, and ring savvy still has the advantage, but Canelo, 23, is a live underdog who looks far more formidable than Hatton, who was savagely kayoed by Floyd in the 10th round. Hatton used to believe he could balloon up 40 pounds between fights without hurting his performance.
As many fans on this site have pointed out, Canelo has experienced problems in the past maintaining his energy level into the championship rounds. Is that still a factor? To get the answer to that, we’ll have to watch Sept. 14.
With less than two weeks to go before the Big Night there were a few new developments:
* The catch weight of 152 was placed in the fight contract, said Floyd’s right-hand-man Leonard Ellerbe, because of the ineptitude of the Alvarez camp, which let it be known prior to negotiations that it was willing to come down on weight. Mayweather would have left the limit at the junior middleweight level of 154, but when an “idiot” hands you an advantage, Ellerbee said (his word for Canelo’s management), you take it.
*All Access viewing numbers have been less than magnificent, partly owing to the partial blackout of Showtime and CBS programming in the key cities of New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas, thanks to the tug of war between Time Warner Cable and CBS, which owns Showtime. The dispute ended Sunday night. All fans may now come back in the pool on their local cable network. The feuding corporations released no details of their truce.
* Time Warner had already quietly leaked word that it would allow purchase of the fight itself in the blacked out cities even if no agreement had been reached. How kind of this giant corporation to take fans’ money (It gets a cut of the record $75 per high-def buy).
* Wall Street had punished both companies for their inability to play in the same sandbox. I checked the numbers. During the month-long blackout, CBS lost 7 percent of its stock value and Time Warner around 9 percent. Ouch. Meanwhile the overall market, which is in a general bad mood anyway, lost a tamer 4 percent. These small differences add up to millions and millions of dollars in lost value.
* Two of Alvarez’s first three sparring partners at his camp in Big Bear had to leave because of injuries suffered while sparring with the great Mexican red-haired hope. I agree with Mayweather that it doesn’t tell us much.
* With two segments left to play, All Access is practically bone dry. We’re down to Floyd spouting the same clichés we heard on HBO’s similar 24/7 series and additional shots of his remarkable work hitting Uncle Roger’s pads. And buying expensive stuff. The series is running out of oomph. I can almost hear the producers grumbling – and intermittently snoring — as they go over miles and miles of dull footage.
But it’s not the Mayweathers’ fault if they keep getting asked the same tired old questions and doing the same things during and after training sessions for umpteen fights now. The world understands what they do, and as for Canelo, there’s nothing duplicitous about this tough, top-notch kid. We know most of what’s pertinent, except of course, what’s most pertinent: how well will he handle Mayweather.
Any really hot news – such as one of the fighters suffering a bit of illness, injury or personal malaise – won’t be revealed to Showtime cameras until after the fight.
Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in June 2013 by Potomac Books. It can be purchased here.