By Robbi Paterson
Saul Alvarez v Floyd Mayweather
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV.
WBC/WBA junior middleweight titles (152lb catchweight)
Referee: Kenny Bayless
Judges: Dave Moretti, C.J Ross, Craig Metcalfe
Height: 5ft 8in
Record: 44-0 (26 KOS)
Strengths: ring generalship, experience, defense, speed – hand and foot, boxing ability, chin, recovery powers, lead right hands and left hooks, stamina, the ability adjust his gameplan during a fight.
Weaknesses: hand trouble, prone to being caught with jabs, goes to the ropes, can be hit with right hands.
Keys to victory.
Mayweather must use the full ring to his advantage. Staying within the centre of the ring and dictating the fight with his speed and counter-punching skills are his main ingredients to success against Alvarez. But he must use the perimeter of the ring as well, although without going to the ropes and making himself a stationary target in the proccess.
He needs to keep turning on Alvarez. He can’t stay in the same spot for too long as this will make him a vulnerable target and will give Alvarez the confidence to get off with his jab and combinations. Alvarez will find it far easier to land any kind of punches on a flat-footed Mayweather. Therefore, Mayweather must “hit on the fly” behind the jab as often as he can. That’s an old time statement used in boxing gyms which simply means, throwing punches while on the move.
In my opinion, jabbing to the body is another great tool for Mayweather to use during the fight. He’s always been superb when it comes to jabbing downstairs. He’s actually one of the very few fighters in the sport who tend to use this particular punch often – down the middle. A great point scoring punch that should be used regularly.
Alvarez is having to boil himself down to make the 152lb catch-weight. Mayweather going to the body with hard rights and lefts throughout the course of the fight is a must. This will certainly test Alvarez’s stamina and durability. It also varies up Mayweather’s game in terms of body-punching.
When Alvarez leads with punches, Mayweather must make him miss by either ducking under the shots or slipping them with head movement, score with quick counter-punches in return, then get swiftly depart the scene thus not giving Alvarez the chance to counter back. Mayweather’s athleticism, combined with his superb reflexes, give him the perfect platform to come out on top during these type of exchanges.
Mayweather, yes, is a great counter-puncher but when Alvarez starts to wait and his offense becomes periodically idle, Mayweather must start to take the initiative and be the one who’s leading with punches. This will put a serious dent into Alvarez’s self-belief.
Height: 5ft 9in
Record: 42-0-1 (30 KOS)
Strengths: size, youth, physical strength, boxing ability, body punching, chin, speed – hand, compact style, lead right hands.
Weaknesses: slow feet, stamina problems, periods of inactivity, inexperience.
Keys to Victory
How does Alvarez go about beating such an athletically gifted, defensive wizard, like Mayweather?
The answer is “timing”.
And the timing of his jab in particular will set everything up for him. He’ll be able to find his range with the jab. It will act as a defensive and an offensive tool. It will also be the weapon which sets up the other punches within his arsenal. And, yes, Alvarez does need to close the gap and get inside but he needs to throw the jab first before closing it. Crucial.
Alvarez can’t just storm forward looking for the knockout all night. Making himself predictable is a recipe for disaster. He needs to employ some variety into his game. He should use feints, then lead off with punches; the jab and the right hand. Even the use of stuttering feints would be useful. Feint, feint, feint, punch. This simply gives Mayweather a different picture.
With Mayweather being somewhat prone to lying on the ropes at times, Alvarez must feast upon him when he’s there, although without being careless. Alvarez must go to the body with both hands, then finish to the head when he’s got Mayweather against the ropes. He needs to watch out for Mayweather’s, sneaky, counter-right uppercut off the ropes. That was a punch Oscar De La Hoya walked onto when he was overly offensive against Mayweather.
Alvarez must work the body on a regular basis. When Mayweather throws a lead right hand to the head, Alvarez should be looking to slip under it, then counter with a left hook to the body. Mayweather has superb movement that he’s able to maintain for long periods during a fight. Alvarez working the body during the early stages of the fight is a must when it comes slowing the older man down. If he’s able to land punches to the body often during the first 6 rounds, he makes his task easier over the second half of the fight.
Mayweather’s style could well give Alvarez psychological blockages to the alarming extent of having no confidence in throwing punches. If Mayweather is firing on all cylinders, offensively and defensively, this is possible during periods of the fight. Alvarez’s, compact, measured style which is all about precision, might well be his downfall to a certain degree. It all depends on the opportunities that Mayweather gives him. Alvarez needs to be as free-flowing with his punches as he possibly can be. Keeping busy will impress the judges.
Alvarez has a decent defense. He’s very good at blocking punches with a high guard and bending his knees to adjust his height. He can’t be constantly “straight up and down” when boxing aggressively. He needs to think defense as he’s coming forward.