It’s the subtle things that win fights. It’s also the subtle things that lead to whispers of inactivity and hatred for Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather has now fought 45 times and been victorious on every outing. He is nearing the realm of the all-time elites, and despite a predictably bad scorecard from C.J. Ross that caused Saturday’s fight to be a majority decision rather than unanimous decision, Floyd Mayweather is flirting with being the best ever. It used to seem like a pipe dream when people compared Floyd to Ali, Robinson, and other greats, but now it is simply the tier he belongs in. Though Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was not ready for Mayweather on this given night, it may be fair to say Alvarez never would have been ready for Mayweather.
Mayweather, who had been lambasted for not fighting the best after moving up from lightweight in 2004, has spent the past three years feasting on fighters that deserve to be in the ring with him. Barring the Miguel Cotto fight from last year and the second round of the Shane Mosley fight, he is simply outclassing everyone. Mayweather is in a league of his own and that’s a whole other problem. He knocked off the biggest Mexican boxing star in Alvarez and in the process made him look average. Detractors will point to the two pounds that Alvarez had to lose in order to make weight, claiming that the process drained him for the fight, but if you watched the fight, the lack of hand speed and boxing ability of Alvarez lost him the night, not the fluids.
Alvarez, who surprised many by stepping back and trying to let Mayweather come to him, found himself in an early hole at the beginning of the fight, losing the first six rounds, two of which were swing rounds. He was unable to catch or trap Mayweather in the ring. Whether it was the shift from HBO to Showtime or the fact that Floyd, Sr. is now back in his corner helping with the training, the days of the Cotto fight, where Mayweather looked like he lost a step, seem like a blip. Mayweather has an ability to throw a right lead that can’t be duplicated, and it belittles the confidence of his foes, arrogantly shoving off the notion of introducing the punch with a jab and simply stating, “my hands are faster than yours.” And they are. Alvarez at times tried to make the fight rough, getting chastised by the ref for hitting low, then refusing to touch gloves with Mayweather. It didn’t help; Alvarez found himself still getting bullied around the ring as Mayweather put on a vintage performance in the biggest night of boxing in the past four years.
Talk turns to Mayweather’s next opponent as he now enter the heart of his Showtime deal. If he were to take the right fights, Mayweather could position himself to be in the running for greatest of all time. That’s what’s on the table for him. The fight that comes to my mind off the top of my head is a match up with middleweight champ Sergio Martinez who is looking for one last payday. Martinez is promoted by Lou DiBella and though traditionally an HBO fighter, for the right sum of money I could see the match up being made. The other two names to watch for are Danny “Swift” Garcia, who on the undercard came in as the champ yet was a 3-1 underdog to Lucas Matthysse. The odds favored Matthysse, who until Saturday had been notching knockouts, though the caliber of his competition had been questioned. Garcia showed toughness, hand speed, and the ability to adjust mid-fight against Matthysse. That makes Mayweather-Garcia a fight that some are eager to see and, even though Garcia is at 140 lbs, seven less than Floyd’s natural weight, he is big and could make the jump. The last option is Adrien Broner, who idolizes Floyd Mayweather, yet for the right sum of money could create the biggest pay-per-view in the history of the sport.
But Garcia is the most riveting option. The Golden Boy promotions star was not groomed at all, instead he was deployed as a b-side (a fighter meant to lose to a more promising opponent to boost their reputation) for Kendall Holt, Amir Khan, Erik Morales, and Matthysse. Garcia is still undefeated, and the fact that he has been an underdog his whole career makes him likeable, yet he still gets no respect. Leading into the fight the 30 writers for Ring Magazine picked Matthysse to stop the champ, and ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael ranked Matthysse above Garcia in the 140 lbs division even though Garcia holds all the belts. Garcia found himself dead even in the sixth round, and created a mouse over the eye of Matthysse that changed the complexion of the fight and set up a signature left hook that Matthysse was unable. Matthysse’s right hand, his money punch, was immobilized because it was re-purposed to protect his face. He found himself the victim of a straight right that floored him in the tenth and all but sealed the fight for Garcia. Even though Garcia was deducted a point for rabbit punching, the outcome was never in question. Garcia simply pulled away in the second half, leaving a lot of the boxing media puzzled.
After the fight, Garcia was emotional. The prevailing view of him held that Garcia was a coward and lucky champ. That has now been shed, and Garcia is seen as top class at 140 lbs. Matthysse, who in the post-fight presser demanded a rematch, finds himself on unstable ground. Unless he fights LaMont Peterson again for the IBF title, Matthysse may never be a champion, and depending on his next performance, he could even pick up that career-killing label– journeyman. Matthysse has always lost against the top level guys in Danny Garcia, Zab Judah, and Devon Alexander.
Carlos Molina is known for dull fights and he kept his reputation in order, winning the IBF light middleweight title from Ishe Smith in boring fashion over the weekend. Smith was shown to be more active on Compubox but in reality just wasn’t. Molina comes forward and creates ugly fights, often instilling more clinching than the average MMA fight, and this fight was no exception as the majority of onlookers showed disinterest. In fact many media members found it so terrible that they refused to score the fight. In the end, Molina won a split decision, and the right man won the fight. For Molina, this is a big win simply because now he has leverage to fight on television where the big money is and his style is not conducive of getting big fights based off aesthetics alone. As for Smith, this may be the beginning of the end, as most expected him to lose the title in his first defense, and he delivered. With Molina as champ, it is hard to see him regaining the momentum to put together another title run.
Pablo Cesar Cano is consistently in fun fights, and he has fought a murderer’s row as of late but struggled to get a definite win. Saturday, he brutalized Mayweather Promotions fighter Ashley Theophane in an entertaining affair of a boxer vs. puncher in which the puncher simply had too much power. Theophane, who gave up reach to Cano, was forced to the outside and punished with a hard left hook by Cano that was coiled up like a cobra. Cano struck consistently, one time nearly putting Theophane onto the canvas. For Cano this may have been the win he need to put himself on the map to get better fights, and in potentially moving back to 140, he can challenge for LaMont Peterson’s title in the near future.