The Boxing Throne Still Belongs To Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather Jr., Canelo Alvarez

For almost a decade, Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been the pound-for-pound king of boxing. Since Oscar De La Hoya retired, he’s been the highest paid boxer and most recognizable American fighter. During a recent episode of Showtime’s documentary series, All Access, Mayweather captured his role in the sport quite simply, “I am boxing.”

So much of his personality within the ring and in the greater boxing community revolves around the magical circle, “0” (no losses). In most sports, everyone aims for the number one, but in boxing, and for Mayweather in particular, all covet the power behind the zero. The zero brings power, fame, notoriety and money.

On Saturday night, the young Mexican star, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, stepped in to the ring to challenge for Mayweather’s throne. Although few boxing experts actually picked Canelo to win (Doug Fischer from The Ring Magazine and Teddy Atlas from ESPN, being two giant exceptions), almost everyone expected that Canelo’s size, youth and power would test Mayweather’s prodigious skills in a way they hadn’t been since Jose Luis Castillo.

Throughout the buildup to Saturday night, Canelo handled the unprecedented fanfare and media of the fight with surprising aplomb. At 23, he seemed as if he’d been there before. Many looked at his cool confidence and wondered if he could bring that same level of poise into the ring with him.

Mayweather on his part found more joy in the limelight. As always, he answered the questions he wanted how he wanted. He used the attention to market himself, his new clothing line and his promotional company as he saw fit. Unlike Canelo, whose focus was lasered in on Mayweather, Mayweather himself acted much like he has for the past decade — it’s just another opponent. Mayweather’s opponents don’t have real names or personalities in his book. They’re merely the next man to try, the next one learn how much better Mayweather is than anyone else. Mayweather’s true opponent is himself in the gym. Everyone is just a sounding board for his own greatness.

Then came Saturday night. From the opening bell, very little went right for the Mexican hopeful. He let Mayweather be the attacker while he tried to play counter-puncher. Even as Mayweather’s jab tattooed his face, Canelo continued to follow his counter-punching game plan, leaving him farther and farther behind on the scorecards. Before the fight, Canelo said that in order to beat Mayweather you needed a plan A, B and C. But on fight night, Canelo had either forgotten his other game plans or simply did not know how to transition between them amid the intensity of the moment.

For the second half of the fight, Mayweather uncharacteristically unveiled combination punching in lieu of his usually lethal right-hand leads. Canelo stayed at a dangerous range where he sometimes tried to mimic Mayweather’s own defensive skills. Although Canelo showed he has more finesse than what he’s given credit for, watching his attempts to bob and weave while once briefly hiding behind his lead shoulder seemed like watching a young son mimicking his father. It was clear who was the teacher and who was the student.


Canelo’s frustration was on display for the final four rounds of the fight. He seemed resigned to lose in the same unchanging style that was leading him to the first blemish on his pristine record. At no point did he seem ready or willing to use the extra 15 pounds he had on Mayweather to impose his size and will. Later at the press conference, Canelo would say that he didn’t feel any of Mayweather’s punches and that they were only for scoring points. If that is true, then Canelo deserves less credit for his small accomplishments on Saturday than what he is going to get. If Mayweather punches as lightly as Canelo says, then it defies reason that Canelo did not pressure Mayweather more in the late rounds, after Canelo was quite obviously behind on the scorecards. Either Mayweather punches harder than Canelo is willing to admit, or Canelo lacks the courage and acumen to know when its time to throw caution to wind and attack.

By the time the final bell rung, it was clear whose “0” remained intact. Clear to everyone but C.J. Ross that is. Now probably the most infamous boxing judge ever, she scored the fight 114-114, a draw. That alone should be enough to force Ms. Ross to have her eyesight checked. But when you consider that a year ago she also scored the Timothy Bradley vs. Manny Pacquiao fight 115-113 (in Bradley’s favor), Ms. Ross’s judging becomes especially questionable. She’s now the holder of two of the worst decisions in recent memory. The fact that she’s completely unapologetic for her scoring should cause the Nevada State Athletic Commission to seriously evaluate who it selects as judges.

Despite Ross’s scoring, Mayweather came away with the victory and his coveted “0.” With his dominating performance, it is difficult to understand how anyone could question that he’s the greatest living boxer. The boxing world has Mayweather for four more fights. Who are the four most worthy to challenge for his throne? Does any realistic opponent (at 154 pounds or less —we’re never getting an Andre Ward vs. Mayweather fight so stop dreaming) have a chance?

There are two names that I’d put at the top of the list, although I doubt either ever steps in to the ring against Mayweather. First is Manny Pacquiao. Although interest in this fight has decreased exponentially due to Pac-man’s knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, should Pac-man win in style against Brandon Rios, he would become a more attractive figure than Danny Garcia, Amir Khan or the other fighters who are more likely to get the opportunity. Pacquiao is an all-time great. And although fading, his star is still brighter than anyone else not named Mayweather south of the 154-lbs. division. It’s sad that the promotional beef between Pacquiao’s promoter and Golden Boy will likely make this fight impossible.

The second name is Gennady Golovkin (“GGG”). Golovkin is a champion at 160 lbs., but he’s long had an open invitation to anyone from 154 lbs. to 168lbs. He’s been vocal about trying to fight Andre Ward, Sergio Martinez and Mayweather — each at his weight class. Golovkin is a throwback fighter that not only fights with smarts and excitement, but he fights without the long layoffs that have been an endemic disease amongst champions. After his upcoming November bout against Curtis Stevens, GGG will have fought four times this year. GGG has a combination of power, poise and boxing that I’ve long said put him out of the running for a fight against Canelo. Is he so good that Mayweather would avoid him as well? If GGG earns his fourth KO of the year against Stevens, his star power might be enough to attract the eye of Mayweather’s advisors. GGG’s ties to HBO, however, add a huge obstacle to making this dream fight a reality.

At the end of the day, only Al Haymon likely has an idea of who really might be next for Mayweather. Whoever it is, I’m ready to watch. Saturday’s domination of a hungry young lion reiterates to anyone with eyes the greatness of Mayweather. Watch him while you can. The window of time is closing, and you might never again get a glimpse at boxing royalty like this.

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