By: William Holmes
The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada will be host to the year’s most anticipated fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Canelo Alvarez for the WBA and WBC Junior Middleweight belts. This bout clearly represents Mayweather’s toughest fight since his 2007 clash with Oscar De La Hoya and Alvarez’s biggest fight of his life.
In addition to the main event, Golden Boy Promotions will also feature a junior welterweight clash between Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse for Garcia’s WBA and WBC belts as well as a clash between Ishe Smith and Carlos Molina for the IBF Junior middleweight title.
Ishe Smith (25-5) vs. Carlos Molina (21-5); IBF Junior Middleweight Title
At first glance, it appears surprising that Smith and Molina are competing for a legitimate belt on Saturday night. Neither fighter has an impressive record and both fighters have low KO percentages. Molina has only stopped six of his opponents, while Smith has only stopped elevn of his opponents.
Ishe Smith first made his name known on “The Contender” reality series. He lost to eventual tournament champion Sergio Mora but he has gone on to have the most successful career afterwards. Smith has competed as high as the middleweight division and has found success since dropping back down to the junior middleweight division.
Smith is 35 years old and it is rare to see someone at his age hold a legitimate title after serving as a gatekeeper for most of his career. He won the title with a clear and at times boring decision over Cornelius Bundrage in February of this year. He has gone 4-0 in his last four fights.
He briefly fought as a middleweight and lost two straight decisions to Fernando Guerrero and Daniel Jacobs. His other losses have come to Joel Julio, Sechew Powell, and Sergio Mora. His biggest victories have come against Ahmad Kaddour, Anthony Bonsante, Pawel Wolak, and Cornelius Bundrage.
Smith is a good, slick, defensive fighter, but nobody in their right mind would say he’s the best fighter in the junior middleweight division.
Carlos Molina is also an enigma in that he might be one of the best five-loss fighter in boxing today. He’s five years younger than Smith and has been tested inside the ring since 2006. He fought and lost to both Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Mike Alvarado before he had his tenth professional victory. He rarely scores the knockout, but has the type of style to drive his opponents mad.
He easily defeated and perhaps ended Cory Spinks in February of this year. He was disqualified against James Kirkland in March of 2012, despite being ahead on the scorecards. He drew with Erislandy Lara despite the fact most ringside observers had him winning the fight. He has also defeated Kermit Cintron, Danny Perez, and Ed Paredes.
Molina has had his share of controversial decisions, and will need to keep up the pace and aggression if he wants to win on Saturday. Smith is older and he may not have the stamina needed to win the decision.
Molina has not legitimately “lost” a fight since 2007. It’s doubtful he’ll lose on Saturday.
Danny Garcia (26-0) vs. Lucas Matthysse (34-2); WBA/WBC Junior Welterweight Title
Nearly everyone agrees that this bout will be the most exciting and entertaining bout on Saturday night.
Matthysse has been a feared and some would say “avoided” fighter ever since he lost a razor thing split decision to Zab Judah in November of 2011. Judah would later state that Matthysse is the hardest puncher he’s ever been inside the ring with and Matthysse’s record clearly shows he hits hard.
He’s stopped an incredible 32 fighters out of his 34 victories. His past 11 wins came by stoppage. His fan base has been steadily growing and he isn’t afraid to brawl. Lamont Peterson made the mistake of trying to recklessly exchange punches with Matthysse and paid for it with a third round highlight reel knockout.
Matthysse has also stopped, at times viciously, Mike Dallas Jr., Olusegun Ajose, Humberto Soto, DeMarcus Corley, and Vivian Harris.
Matthysse’s only losses were questionable razor thin split decisions to Devon Alexander and Zab Judah. Matthysse also knocked down both Alexander and Judah once.
Garcia also has some considerable power in his hands, but he is not known for his power like Matthysse. Garcia has stopped 16 of his opponents, but only two of his last five. Garcia has never tasted defeat and has won against the likes of Zab Judah, Erik Morales (x2), Amir Khan, Nate Campbell, and a close decision victory over Kendall Holt.
Garcia can get reckless at times and it will cost him if blindly exchanges with Matthysse. But if Garcia can stick to just boxing Matthysse on the outside while avoiding close and fiery exchanges, he can pull off the victory. Garcia is slightly taller than Matthysse, so he would be wise to fight him on the outside and stay moving inside the ring.
Can Matthysse score another knockout victory? Of course. But this writer believes Garcia will go into the fight with a winning game plan and will execute it to perfection.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (44-0) vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-0); WBC/WBA Junior Middleweight Title
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is clearly the best professional boxer of this generation. Love him or hate him, there is no denying his skills inside the ring.
At times it appears as if nobody can touch him. He’s the highest paid athlete in the world and many fans will have no problems forking over $75 to see him fight on PPV.
But let’s also acknowledge that this is the toughest fight of Mayweather’s career since he fought Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. A win for Mayweather would give further credence to his claim that he’s the best boxer of all time.
Mayweather is former US Olympian that has stopped 26 of his opponents. His power however seems to have been waning as he has only stopped one of his past five opponents and that was a questionably dirty KO over Victor Ortiz in 2011.
Mayweather is also racing against father time. He’s 36 years old and has fought only once a year since 2007 when he fought Ricky Hatton and De La Hoya. In fact this will be the first time he’s fought twice in a year since 2007.
He’s never been defeated inside the ring, but his last victory over Robert Guerrero was against a fighter that was perhaps undeserving. Guerrero had spent most of his career up to that point fighting in the lower divisions, as low as featherweight, and his biggest victory was over a shot Andre Berto.
Miguel Cotto landed more punches on him than expected. Ortiz’s loss came under questionable circumstances. Shane Mosley was able to rock him in the second round. He came in overweight when he fought Marquez.
Mayweather has fought the best and beat the best, well most of the best, but his victories are not without questions.
One has to think that Mayweather is bound to lose sooner or later, but he keeps on proving his critics wrong.
The odds on this fight are closer than most Mayweather fights and Alvarez is a very young, talented, strong, and hungry fighter. Not only will he be the younger fighter, but he will also be the bigger and taller fighter.
Alvarez, however, has been fed a steady diet of beatable opponents throughout his career. He has decent power and has stopped 30 of his 42 opponents. Three of his past five fights have also resulted in a stoppage victory.
But the only solid, young, legitimate opponent he has beaten at this point of his career is Austin Trout. Josesito Lopez was a junior welterweight pretending to be a junior middleweight. Shane Mosley was an over the hill fighter who could no longer pull the trigger. Kermit Cintron was a shell of his former self and his former self was not a world beater. Alfonso Gomez was best known for his stint in a reality show. Matthew Hatton isn’t Ricky Hatton.
Alvarez is a good fighter but he has never fought a fighter anywhere near the caliber of Mayweather.
Canelo has been very active and has been improving with each and every fight. But has he improved to the point that he can beat an older Floyd Mayweather Jr.? Very few fighters retire undefeated and most legends eventually meet a younger, stronger, and hungrier fighter that ends their run inside the ring.
Canelo has the talent and ability to shock the world against a no longer in his athletic prime “Money” Mayweather Jr. It may have been too early in his career to put Canelo against Floyd, but this writer is going against the grain and is picking Canelo to pull off a close, and controversial, decision victory.