Saul Alvarez vs. Floyd Mayweather – an overview of some tangible and intangible assets
By Ivan Ivanov: “The Day” is approaching and “The One” will be chosen soon unless it’s a draw, then there will be “The Two”. That means a second fight as well. Their opposing styles make the prospect of a draw very unlikely. This sort of outcome has always bewildered me because there is something inherently unnatural in declaring two individual performances and two separate sets of skills exactly identical.
The only time I would gladly accept this outcome is in the event of a double KO when to both boxers land simultaneously (not unheard of), but this happens at much lower level.
A boxer vs. a puncher, a technician vs. a slugger, a stylist vs. a brawler, there are other clichés but this time a cliché may not be fair to both. If I had to label the fight I’d say “a boxer vs. a fighter” but this would still be an incomplete summary of the styles.
Floyd Mayweather is a consummate technician and his style is in fact an updated version of the Olympic boxing style. His amateur boxing skills have been optimized and modified for professional prize fighting. Essentially he is a pragmatic efficient amateur who has eliminated moves and routines that would not work over 12 rounds. Actions that are remotely risky or energy-consuming have been squashed. He carried over a lot of skills directly and that was a wise decision. His game is fundamentally based on his amateur boxing skills. His tendency to uphold and validate the Olympic/amateur boxing sometime transforms into a dismissal of the boxing spirit. He could be reproached for his tactics of jab-hold the head and arm, right hand lead-clinch; grab and hold briefly, tie up and wrestle away then circle and roll the shoulder.
If he can get away with it and win on points, it’s all good. If he can avoid exchanging at close range and then proceed to the comfortable middle and long range, he has a great inside game. Short range is a jealous lover; even if you prevail you still get tagged a lot. It affects career length as excessive jealousy affects the length of a relationship. FMJ can perhaps punch beyond welter weight but he chooses not to commit, he throws scoring “arm” punches with defense on his mind. His wide stance is a direct import from the amateur days, it increases his range and balance and he uses the lean back-bend-lean forward a lot in defense and offense. His spectacular defense defines him as a boxer especially after he moved up in weight.
It is an all-around affair and he uses foot work, body movement, hand defenses and tie-up-smother tactics. One detail that “fogs up my boxing spectacles” is that a defensive master like him keeps hid head high and the chin …up. Indecently high. When he throws a hook, he lifts the chin even higher and to the side – this habit is definitely not from the amateur ranks. His defense is dependent on reflex, speed and anticipation. Timing cuts both ways, it helps defense even more. Those are intangible qualities that fade imperceptibly with time and the average age when substantial changes occur is 32-34 years.
Saul “:Canelo” Alvarez has youth on his side and perhaps hits harder than Mayweather. They differ in single punch power but the main difference is in the way they deliver their shots at the point of contact. There is a different kind of energy in their fists, Floyd is a conservative score-and-run artist while Canelo’s intentions are more serious. Floyd is prepared to “invest” and wait for the added interest of his shots, Alvarez shoots for instant dividends. Hand speed is hard to compare due to the difference in execution but it seems adequate for both. One element that is being overlooked is Canelo’s jab which is a sharp tool. For example it “rinsed” Trout’s head several times and precipitated the knock down. When a jab sends the shiny drops of sweat flying in the spot light, that’s a jab with a snap and a snap-jab can be a nightmare if landed consistently.
Alvarez’s defense is very reliable as well but it’s of a different type. It’s a pro-active, offense oriented shield that uses much more slips, dips, ducks, rolls, head movement and it’s meant to free up the hands for punching back most of the time. It is a stationary “I’m not backing down” macho setup, hence the ostensible impression that Alvarez is flat-footed. He knows his way around the ring and he will find Floyd. His intangibles are intact and improving. I dare say he might even find him out.
I am inclined to lean towards Canelo mainly because of his youth. On the other hand both boxers are a good alibi for each other, whoever looses can point age as an excuse. One could claim wear and tear, the “greener” one – lack of experience. Floyd could also blame the weight disadvantage and he’ll be right. My choice is impartial, I am a fan of boxing before I am a fan of a boxer and none of these two fine boxers would make my day by winning or loosing. They will make my day if they do their best and fight from the heart. I will have to substantiate my preference of Saul Alvarez to edge Floyd Mayweather in a different article with a detailed technical analysis and comparison.