In the second episode of Showtime's "All Access" series leading up to the mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Canelo Alvarez for the unified light middleweight championship at the MGM Grand on September 14, Oscar De La Hoya stated that his May 2007 fight against the pound-for-pound great is the blueprint for victory. De La Hoya, who promotes Alvarez with Golden Boy Promotions, said he took that fight "out of the archives" and has given it to Canelo in preparation for the biggest fight of the young Mexican's career.
Boxing 101 pulled out this fight as a blueprint for Miguel Cotto prior to his May 2012 fight with Mayweather last year, so we will refresh the analysis now that we inch closer to Mayweather vs. Canelo.
Age does not at all seem to be a factor when it comes to Mayweather's performance. He was absolutely superb against Robert Guerrero in his last fight on May 4, showing no signs of ring rust from his year-long absence from the ring that included a 90-day jail stint. He proved he still has the ability to quickly adjust and the hand speed, reflexes and perfectly timed counter shots to control a fight on his terms.
The fact that Mayweather (44-0, 26 KO's) is 36 years old really has no relevance in this conversation. Like a fine wine, he may perhaps be even better than he was six years ago when he faced De La Hoya.
What is relevant is how the aspects of the Mayweather vs. De La Hoya fight apply to the upcoming challenge against Canelo.
* Even though Mayweather got the split decision win over De La Hoya (116-112, 115-113, 113-115), it was arguably the most difficult fight of his career. De La Hoya had some meaningful moments as he was the aggressor and had success with his left hook, including some nice shots to the body. He took Mayweather out of his rhythm during the first half of the fight with some solid left jabs and active inside work while pinning Floyd against the ropes. He came within one round of blemishing Mayweather's coveted perfect record with what would have been the first draw of the pay-per-view king's professional career, so there is a blueprint here.
It will be up to Canelo to actually construct the gigantic victory, with his tremendous power shots to the body likely to play a very large role in setting the foundation.
* 23-year old Canelo (42-0-1, 30 KO's) is far younger, stronger and has been more active than the 34-year old De La Hoya was at the time he faced Mayweather. Whether it was his age, inactivity (it was only his third fight in almost three years) or simply the Mayweather skills, De La Hoya ran out of gas in this fight. He was unable to sustain an effective attack and abandoned his jab as the fight wore on, enabling Mayweather to settle in and take over the second half of the bout. Floyd was the fresher fighter in the end, moving extremely well, and landing his jabs and right hand over the top at will.
Canelo's stamina and patience will be just as important as his overall skills. The two additional pounds that the growing young champion has to lose to make the 152-pound catchweight could very well become an issue in the late rounds with the fight in the balance.
* This will be Mayweather's fastest turnaround between fights in over 10 years (four months). It was a period of six months between Mayweather's fight with Carlos Baldomir in November 2006 and the May 2007 bout with De La Hoya. Since that fight, Mayweather has only fought six times with year-long breaks until his record-breaking deal with Showtime earlier this year.
Canelo has been slowing down his fight frequency while improving the quality of his opposition the last time out against Austin Trout in April, exhibiting improvement in his footwork, defense and jab. These areas still need exponential improvement for him to effectively compete with Mayweather without the benefit of open scoring, a system that essentially forced Trout out of his game plan and allowed Canelo to coast his way to a secured (and somewhat debatable) victory.
* As previously noted, De La Hoya had success when pressing the action and using his jab to keep Mayweather out of rhythm. Although the elusive Mayweather was able to tie up the Golden Boy and avoid most of the shots while he was against the ropes, De La Hoya had an opportunity to wear Floyd down by keeping the pressure on and committing to the body. Once De La Hoya let up on his attack and stopped jabbing, Mayweather was quickly able to get back into his groove.
Canelo's lack of head movement, inability to effectively cut off the ring and average jab all work against him heading into this fight, so he must not get frustrated if he is unable to land his power shots. He will need to remain workmanlike in his attack, especially with combination punching to the body and head.
* Floyd Mayweather is open for a right hand, keeping his left very low and masterfully using the rest of his body, shoulder roll and athleticism as an effective form of defense. Timing is the key with the crafty Mayweather, however. De La Hoya landed a beautiful straight right that snapped back Floyd's head at the end of the eleventh round, as well as a right hook during a flurry when both men were exchanging punches in the final seconds of the fight. This may have been the punch that caused two of the three judges to score the twelfth round for De La Hoya, even though Mayweather had been more effective in that round overall.
Canelo dropped Trout for the first time in his career with a straight-right hand preceded by a jab in the early seconds of the seventh round of their fight. In addition to power, the Mexican champion has very good placement of his punches which will be necessary against the defensive wizardry of Mayweather.
Mayweather quickly dismisses the effectiveness of the De La Hoya blueprint, pointing to past opponents who were unable to successfully implement it – Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz and Robert Guerrero.
Will Canelo join these fighters who were evicted from the ring by Mayweather as or will his name appear on the deed of the pound-for-pound castle?
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