First of all, I want to welcome anyone reading this to Jab Jabber. This is a brand new website featuring boxing news, schedules and discussion. Feel free to chime in at any point and give us your opinions and fight predictions.
With that said, our first post ever is going to be regarding the Floyd Mayweather vs Canelo Alverez fight on September 14 at the MGM Grand. Most fight analysts are in agreement in their predictions that this should be a relatively easy fight for Floyd to win, as Canelo is far too inexperienced to deal with his power and speed. Additionally, Floyd is a master counter-puncher, which adds to Canelo’s problems in that Canelo’s style of “come forward aggressiveness” will play directly into Floyd’s gameplan, exposing Alvarez to the blinding counterpunching speed that Floyd possesses. This style matchup was probably the most obviously illustrated in Floyd’s fight with Ricky Hatton on Dec. 8, 2007 when the forward-rushing Hatton was knocked senseless by one of the most perfect check-hooks in history, Floyd clubbing Hatton behind his right ear as he came in while attempting to trap Floyd in the corner. The perfect storm of an overly aggressive opponent rushing forward while throwing punches and Floyd’s perfect slide to the left while throwing a power punch hook to the head literally made Ricky look amateurish. The question is, however, if this was actually a correct offensive onslaught that would potentially beat Floyd, but simply executed the wrong way.
Watching Floyd’s fights since 2001 shows an interesting progression, peak and decline that could be Floyd’s undoing at the hands of a strong, aggressive fighter. In 2001 Floyd fought Diego Corrales, who was really the first opponent that probably had a chance against him. Floyd had mastered both and and foot speed, avoiding punches while throwing points-builders, and winning by decisions. Floyd was never a knockout puncher, because throwing with enough power to knock someone out requires opening yourself up to potential damage. Floyd’s brilliant defense system was all about not being hit, so his tactics to win were more on points than power. When he fought Jose Luis Castillo in 2002 is was the toughest fight to that date for Floyd, because Castillo understood that he needed to hit Floyd with power while minimizing the counter-punches as much as possible. This was the start of an understanding of the way to beat Floyd, hit him with hard shots while not rushing in too fast to be countered. Although Castillo lost, a blueprint had been worked out.
The fights that followed were more hand picked for Floyd so as to set up fighters who would not challenge him on his potential weakness. Chop Chop Corley was not good enough to be a threat, just tough. Arturo Gatti is beloved for his ability to take a beating, but was really only fighting Floyd because of the Ward-Gatti drama, which made him famous yet not nearly good enough to actually give Floyd a problem. Sharmba Mitchell was a good fighter but not on Floyd’s level, and Jab Judah was very much like a slightly slower Floyd, without the power to actually do the damage necessary to get the job done. Carlos Baldomir never should have been in the ring with Floyd, and realistically the De La Hoya fight pitted Floyd against an old, dehydrated Oscar. Even though Oscar himself was never enough of a power puncher to give Floyd an issue, he understood the strategy and gave Floyd the most problems to date, simply by pushing him to the ropes and pounding his body, which is not defended by the shoulder roll that protects Floyd’s head.
When Hatton fought Floyd, it had the makings of an exciting fight because Ricky’s come-forward, bullying style could potentially push Floyd into a corner where he would be forced to shoulder roll to protect his head, and expose his body to hard punches. Hatton could have possibly made it work if he had used his elbows to hold Floyd in the corner after pushing him back slowly, but instead he chose to rush forward too quickly as Floyd faded into the corner, setting up the check-hook that resulted in a knockout. The next fight was with Marquez who was chosen because people had begun to criticize Floyd for avoiding danger by picking opponents that would not press the action. Marquez was an all action fighter who could have beaten Floyd if he had not been so much naturally smaller than him. The result was a fight that looked like a lot of action, but the power punches were not enough to actually do the damage necessary, a very smart move on Floyd’s part. He can’t be criticized for avoiding pressure fighters, and he picks a pressure fighter that is not strong enough to knock him out.
This was the beginning of an interesting decline for Floyd. His advancing age results in slower reflexes, slower foot movement, and less stamina than when he was younger. Although even these diminished levels are still far superior to anyone else out there, they are still easily noticed if you compare the young Floyd and today’s Floyd. He fights Shane Mosely (once again hand picked because Shane is at the end of his career, and is far more diminished than Floyd) so as to provide an exciting opponent who probably doesn’t have the strength to come forward slowly, pressure him into a corner, and hit him with enough power to do damage. Shane was just too old at that point to do the job effectively. That being said, there was a moment in the fight when a punch did get through, and Floyd looked like he might be in a bit of trouble. Not enough to finish him, but when you see someone who had never been in trouble before suddenly in that place, we can all learn from the process. Ortiz is next, and should have been the end for Floyd. Victor was exactly right for the style that will beat him, a big, strong, young and aggressive fighter who pressures you until your back hits the ropes. Victor proved far too inexperienced with his embarrassing display of gratitude for being given the opportunity, and had that inexperience handed to him with the sucker punch heard round the world. Previous to that point, however, Victor was displaying exactly the game plan that could have resulted in a loss for Floyd. Mayweather was bullied into the corners far more than ever before, and took far more punches cleanly than ever before. Avoid the counter punch while pressuring forward, and once he is trapped in the corner go to the body and head. Floyd’s corner defense is to move his head far side to side as the punches come. Train to anticipate his movement and swing INTO the movement, instead of letting him move away from you, all the while flurrying to the body to keep the shoulder roll down. Victor had the plan right, just not the experience to keep his head on straight and execute it.
Miguel Cotto went further than Victor with the same plan, and got even better results. However Cotto, like Mosely is a very diminished fighter from the strength he once had. The result is a win for Floyd, but the biggest beating he had ever taken. Robert Guerrero never should have been in the ring with Floyd, but had some success in his own right. This sets up the most interesting fight to date.
I didn’t think Floyd would fight Canelo without demanding a catch weight that would so drain him that he couldn’t have any power. The 152 catchweight that was agreed upon puts Canelo into a position he has never actually needed to drop to for a fight, and will be slightly uncomfortable for him to make the weight, however it is really only a few pounds lighter than Canelo is usually used to cutting to. Canelo will often times re-hydrate to over 170, which literally could bring him into the ring with nearly a 20 pound weight advantage. Speed not being a factor in the strategy, Canelo needs to rely on strength and intelligence to win. Discussions among boxing commentators has been about Canelo having greater speed from the lower weight, however is is doubtful than any speed Canelo can improve upon would ever be enough for Floyd, even in a diminished state.
Canelo pressures forward and tries to trap his opponents in the corner. The difference between Canelo and previous Floyd opponents is that Canelo does not rush in to push them to the ropes. Alvarez uses a slower pressure forward, stepping forward while throwing hooks and power punches. This does not put him in as good a position for a check-hook as he is not moving forward completely open. This slow pressure can move Floyd into the danger zone if Canelo can effectively cut off the ring and not let him use his feet to simply circle all night. This brings up a few of the interesting degenerations in Floyd as of his last three fights. He gets hit more than ever because he is older and slower with his upper body movement, combined with the desire to now knock opponents out and provide an exciting fight. Additionally, his advancing age has been apparent in his diminishing stamina, and while not very easily noticed in his hand speed, it is noted in his new habit of moving to the corner. This used to be the place Floyd could rest due to his shoulder roll defense. He could move to the corner when necessary and cover up, with the opponent wailing away but hitting nothing but shoulder, and allowing Floyd to catch his breath. Now, this habit is proving more and more of a liability, as opponents are understanding to go to the body in the corner instead of the head, and not allowing Floyd to rest. Floyd’s foot movement is a fraction of what it once was, so the corner may be the only option if an opponent cuts the ring off effectively. This potentially puts Floyd into the corner with an unbelievably strong body puncher who is young and fast enough to vary his attack from the body to the head, while Floyd cannot run from the corner because the check-hook is nullified by the slow pressure instead of a bum rush.
All that said, what is our prediction for the fight? One of two answers. It will probably be a boring fight with Floyd simply circling all night and pecking away from a distance. If Canelo cannot cut the ring off and push Floyd to the corners, then it will be an easy Mayweather decision with Floyd winning nearly every round. However, there is another potential outcome.
If Canelo can cut off the ring so that Floyd must move straight backward, he can trap Floyd into the corners and hit him with body punches that Floyd has never encountered before. The body punches will cause Floyd to pull his defense down, and expose his head. Given the right combination of multiple punches timed correctly and thrown against Floyd’s side-to-side head movement in the corners, and we have a knockout situation on our hands. If this was to pan out, we would see the opening rounds going to Mayweather, with him periodically getting trapped in rounds three or four. His stamina failing and body punishment taking away his speed, he retreats to the corners more and more over the next few rounds, periodically taking shots to the head that do more damage than ever done to him in the past. Somewhere around the eighth round, Floyd retreats to the corner after an accumulation of punishment from the previous round, and finds himself the victim of furious multiple body and head punches coming from all angles. The first knockdown of Floyd’s career comes, causing the corner to panic as every thought has always been about self-protection and not getting hit. The towel comes in in round nine, or a complete flash knockout that Floyd does not beat the count for. Alvarez shocks the world.
Smart money is on Mayweather by decision in a boring fight that everyone regrets paying $75 to watch. Fun money is taking Alvarez by knockout in the late-middle rounds. There has never been a better chance of this happening. The potential perfect storm is coming, his name is Canelo Alvarez.