A Seasoned Canelo Fighting Mayweather Would be One to Remember

December 21, 2023
2 months

Testing the generational divide in boxing is nearly impossible. Even if two all-time greats do meet to bridge eras, one is usually on the way out, while the other is still trying to establish themselves as one of the all-time greats. It’s hard to say if that was the case when Canelo Alvarez, then 23, fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. for the WBA (Super) light middleweight title.

Álvarez was young but had been extraordinarily active as a professional fighter. The fight with Mayweather was his 44th fight as a professional, but he already had shown signs of having long-term staying power. Mayweather was 36 when they fought but was still able to earn a majority decision over the younger man.

Mayweather would only fight five more times after beating Álvarez, including a glorified exhibition with Conor McGregor in his final professional fight. There is no doubt that Mayweather is one of the best fighters ever, but understandably, Mayweather spent the final few years of his career chasing big-money fights instead of belts.

Their first fight is one where boxing fans disagree on whether Álvarez was too young for the challenge or not. Mayweather has always been consistent throughout his career. To beat Mayweather, you need to be extremely precise, according to boxing news sites. No one ever figured out how to be precise enough.

Start Early and Fight Often

Many of the top prospects in boxing shine the biggest by reaching the Olympics and putting on a show worldwide before turning professional. But Canelo didn’t take that road. He started fighting professionally at 15.

Canelo Álvarez was born Santos Saúl Álvarez Barragán in Guadalajara, Mexico. The name Canelo came from the masculine word for cinnamon in Spanish, which was given to him because of his red hair. Canelo would prove to be a prodigy at the professional level.

He captured a NABF title at welterweight, according to recent boxing news. Canelo would break through and win the WBC Silver light middleweight title by beating Luciano Leonel Cuello via TKO in July 2010. A few fights later, Canelo beat Matthew Hatton by unanimous decision to win the WBC light middleweight title. Canelo would run the unbeaten streak to 43 fights to start his career until he fought Mayweather in September 2013 in Las Vegas.

Canelo’s Disaster in the Desert

Judge C.J. Ross’ questionable scorecard was the only thing that made the fight between Canelo and Mayweather seem off-kilter. Ross scored the fight a draw and retired shortly after, while the other two judges scored the fight for Mayweather, who was dominant in front of a crowd of 16,746 people. Over the course of a 12-round bout at an agreed catchweight of 152 pounds, Mayweather gave the man 13 years his junior a boxing lesson. 

Mayweather landed 46 percent of his punches, while Canelo only connected on 22 percent. While Canelo was slightly more active, he was unable to catch up to Mayweather. Mayweather, notorious for his shoulder roll defense, is one of the most difficult men to hit in boxing history.

Canelo would bounce back quickly, winning his next seven fights, before agreeing to a fight that would spawn a trilogy he will be best remembered for. Canelo fought fellow superstar Gennady Golovkin for the WBA (Super), WBC, and IBF middleweight titles in September 2017.

First GGG Fight Ends in Controversy

Much like Canelo’s fight with Mayweather, one judge’s scorecard drew a major negative reaction from the boxing world. Adelaide Byrd scored the fight in favor of Canelo, while the other judges scored the fight a draw and 115-113 in favor of Golovkin. Many observers felt Golovkin won the fight.

But the numbers don’t indicate that much of a separation. Golovkin was busier and attempted nearly 200 more punches than Canelo but ended up landing at 31 percent compared to Canelo’s 33 percent. The rematch would take a year to reschedule because Canelo failed a drug test.

When the two met again, there was again controversy. Canelo landed more punches, but Golovkin again was the busier fighter and outlanded Canelo in nine rounds. Two of the judges scored the fight in favor of Canelo, while the other scored it a draw. The two men would fight again in September 2022, with Canelo winning a unanimous decision.

Canelo is 60-2-2 and won championships in four weight classes during his career. The fights with Golovkin would turn out to be the most enduring rivalry he would have, according to the latest world boxing news.

Mayweather Has Too Many Accolades to List

Mayweather retired with a record of 50-0. He has a record of 26 consecutive victories in world title fights. His last notable defeat came at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when he lost in the featherweight semifinals on the way to a bronze medal. Mayweather’s rise to prominence came from a strong boxing background in his family.

While Mayweather’s relationship with his dad and uncle has been strained at times, teaching him the shoulder roll helped make him nearly impossible to hit. Mayweather also found notoriety for being one of the top pay-per-view attractions.

Mayweather’s fights with Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquaio, and Canelo helped build his strong reputation. While there was a lot of criticism about how long it took Mayweather and Pacquaio to fight, the two men eventually would meet later in their careers.

Could Canelo Have Hit Mayweather?

A rematch between a prime Canelo and in-form Mayweather would have been fascinating. During Mayweather’s career, he didn’t have too many close calls despite many of his top fights going the distance. Meanwhile, Canelo leaned on his power to carry him in big fights and had several close calls.

No matter what you think about Canelo’s fights with GGG, he has helped carry boxing since Mayweather retired and captured the imagination of the Mexican fanbase. Canelo’s reliance on lower volume and higher power wouldn’t serve him well in the rematch. Mayweather would use his defensive technique to avoid the power.

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