At 23 years old, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has known nothing but success in his professional boxing career. Through 43 fights, he is unbeaten with one draw. On Saturday night, though, Alvarez will face the toughest challenge of his career.
In the biggest fight of 2013, Alvarez will step inside the ring with Floyd Mayweather. The two will do battle at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It has the potential to be the biggest moneymaker in boxing history and outdraw the 2007 bout between Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya that set a record with 2.5 million Pay-Per-View buys.
While Alvarez has never lost, Mayweather has the most decorated career of any boxer in recent years. At 36, he’s going for his 45th win without a loss or a draw, in addition to his 26 knockouts. Even after 17 years, Mayweather is still beating the top names in the sport, coming off wins against Victor Ortiz, Miguel Cotto and Robert Guerrero.
No boxer has been up to the task of defeating Mayweather, but Alvarez may have the best chance of any recent challenger. In his last three fights, Mayweather has never been less than a minus-600 favorite on the day of the bout. Against Alvarez, the world’s best boxer’s odds come in at just minus-280, according to Bovada.
He’s still a decided underdog, but Alvarez is in a position to make history. Below are four ways Alvarez can beat Mayweather.
Use the left hook
Utilizing his left hook will be a key in Alvarez getting a victory this weekend. Mayweather is able to stay in fights by avoiding right power punches. If Alvarez can land his left hook with consistency, though, it will open up the possibility for him to land a big right on his opponent.
Alvarez is the most accurate puncher in the sport, even more so than Mayweather. If he can properly dissect the undefeated boxer’s defense, he’ll have a shot at pulling off the upset.
Use your speed
Experts who are predicting Mayweather to improve to 45-0 have pointed to his speed as a reason that Alvarez doesn’t have much of a chance. The challenger, though, is quicker than most give him credit for.
Alvarez’s advantage on Saturday may be his size, but other boxers have stated that his speed is under-rated. In a recent interview, Shane Mosley marveled at his speed, saying “Canelo is fast, and his speed is similar to Floyd’s.” He’ll need that quickness against someone who connects with such a high percentage of his punches.
Go toe-to-toe with Mayweather
Mayweather has been so successful for so long because of his ability to remain untouched in the ring. Many fighters have come up short because they were too aggressive against the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. With that being said, Alvarez can’t be afraid to get in the face of his opponent.
According to Mosley, who is the only man to have ever stepped in the ring with both boxers, Alvarez must keep pressuring Mayweather, in order to win. Alvarez can’t let his opponent get comfortable. If that happens, Mayweather will use his defensive skills to dodge Alvarez and force him into making a mistake.
Be patient -- it's probably going 12
With 30 knockouts on his resume, Alvarez isn’t used to fighting 12 rounds. However, he’ll have to be ready to go the distance this weekend. Even if the Mexican can control the fight, Mayweather’s defensive skills will keep him in the bout.
Alvarez’s focus should be on winning seven rounds. Against a boxer of Mayweather’s caliber, he can get himself into trouble by going for too many power punches too early. He’ll have to find the happy medium between forcing Mayweather to fight and not getting too aggressive. It won’t be easy, which is why Mayweather has never lost.