9.13.2013

boxing: Mayweather vs. Canelo

I don't pay as much attention to boxing as I once did.
Not that the sport has grown any less compelling, or is, to ape the uninformed blather of many a tooth-bleached talking head, "dying".  Quite the contrary, the slate of compelling fights burgeons well past the time can devote to them.  As someone who exists off the cable grid I've always stayed current by frequenting assorted underground torrent sites- I have binders containing every notable fight of the past few decades.  But fatherhood & expanding my own business are both all consuming in their way, and it's been at least a year since I torrented a boxing card.  My intake these days is limited to Youtube links provided by my core of boxing pals.

But this is a major card, the kind that reaches beyond the hard kernel of degenerate boxing fans who'll shell out $40 for a card headlined by two welterweights the rest of the sporting world wouldn't be able to pick out of a lineup.  So my boxing buddy is heading up from LA and we will resume our long tradition of basking in the Pay Per View ambiance with his old man, a pizza and fridge full of cold beer.

There's no other sporting event even faintly like a big fight, just as there is no other sport like boxing. Before the first bell, who knows what will happen between two elite fighters inside the prize ring?  Everyone has an opinion, some few even educated, but the history of the sport is full of fighters and fights that confounded all, producing unprecedented conclusions thought impossible by everyone save the man authoring them with his gloved fists.

For this reason the anticipation of a big fight exists independent of its eventual dénouement, an electric current generated by the unknown state of the bout.  An unsettled fight is something like Schrodinger's Cat, victory and defeat simultaneously suspended in the fevered minds of the public, creating a mental frenzy.

When the bell rings that potential is gradually concretized over the championship distance.  The fight itself becomes good, or bad, or shocking, or not. 

Fight fans tend to forget or disown their fevered pre-bout conjectures once the outcome is settled.
There is something faintly embarrassing to wise old heads about that particular species of excitement, and in public at least pre-fight banter among objective observers tends to be guarded, conditional, cautious.  The vagaries of the sport put the lie to grave pronouncements often enough that the more advanced your education in the Sweet Science, the less likely you are to state anything with certainty ahead of the event.

All of that being said, I'll be shocked, startled, gobsmacked, dumbfounded, and rendered prostrate with amazed disbelief by any result other than a wide unanimous decision for Pretty Boy Floyd, for the following reasons (boxing forums operate on the same "show your work" principles as math tests- any idiot can proclaim a result, but judgement is passed equally on the quality of your reasoning).

One of the few fights I've seen live over the past few years was Canelo vs. faded former Contender participant Alphonso Gomez on the undercard of the Mayweather vs Ortiz card.  It was a clear set up, intended to give Canelo a few live rounds, pick up a title strap and burnish his power punching credentials with a fairly easy KO of a 'name' fighter.


But, as you may suspect given my opening paragraphs, Gomez had other plans.

It's one of those fights where the tale of the rounds is vastly different than the outcome recorded in the record books at on Boxrec.com, where you'd see "Gomez down in 1st round, again in the 6th, with the referee stopping the fight."

What you'd miss from that summary is that the first knockdown was mostly a balance shot and didn't do any real damage, and that from the 2nd through 5th Gomez frustrated and befuddled Canelo with some very basic movement and defense.  He came in with a plan and he fought a smart fight, although in the end he was too limited to carry it all the way.

If Gomez was able to neutralize Canelo with what amounts to basic addition and subtraction, then Mayweather, the Stephen Hawking of the squared circle, should have his head spinning like a top.

I expect the fight to go as most of Mayweather's recent ones have- he'll feel his way through the early rounds, giving some false hope to Canelo supporters.  Then around the 3rd or 4th he'll have his opponent dialed in and he'll start constricting his options, taking away more and more of Canelo's game until he is largely inert, trapped in a defensive shell by Floyd's pinpoint counterpunching and unmatched mastery of ring geometry.

There are only three ways to beat Floyd.

One, you can try to out work him, which requires an iron discipline & absolute disdain for eating return fire.  Some feel that Jose Luis Castillo achieved this in his first meeting with Floyd.  Castillo brought educated pressure and a granite chin to the table and while I don't count myself among those who feel he won, he did give Floyd the most competitive fight of his career.  
When you bring uneducated pressure to bear on Floyd....well, ask Ricky Hatton (and by the way, Lederman's scorecard on that clip is a monumental embarrassment- Hatton barely won a single exchange in that fight, let alone an entire round).
This is why so many were so excited about a potential PBF vs Pacquiao matchup, before his devastating KO loss to the Juan Manuel "The Incredible" Hulquez.

Two, you can try to out-think him, which only couple of his rough contemporaries would have a hope of doing (Bernard Hopkins, James Toney).  You make the fight a chess match.  Unfortunately, when compared to Floyd most guys aren't even playing checkers, more like tic-tac-toe.

Three, you wait for the Fourth Man in the Ring, Father Time, to erode enough of his superlative physical skills to allow mere mortals to compete.

With regards to Canelo, I see in him more Hatton than Castillo, a guy who was out-thought and out-fought by a washed up Gomez.  And I haven't seen enough slippage in Floyd to give him an opening.  Floyd, like Hopkins, is fanatical in his fight preperation, never half-asses training, never enters the ring at anything but his peak, and so is an unlikely candidate for that straw so many outmatched opponents grasp for, "getting old overnight".  It does happen, but usually to guys who skimp, shirk, and make up for poor work habits with youth and talent.

Floyd is a perfect predator- all the skills, all the smarts, and an adamantine refusal to ever be out-worked in training camp.

Canelo is a quality prizefighter, but Floyd is a legitimate all time great.  If he isn't at his peak any longer, he hasn't fallen far enough for Canelo to reach him.

7 comments:

Patrick Connor said...

When you finally get time, write about boxing more please, and thank you.

Abdullah Hassaan said...

Thank you, for the thoughtful and well stated observation. This event leaves me recalling Neo from the Matrix, with his ability to operate eventually in, out and through the Matrix. So is Mayweather and his team operating in, out and through the business, the sport, science and propaganda. "some few", recognize the nuances simultaneously.

baxie said...

Some people take exception to Floyd's public persona and allow that dislike color their appraisal of his boxing skills.

Floyd has played the fight game, inside and outside the ropes, as well as anyone in my lifetime. For a counterpunching defensive specialist to become one of the biggest draws in the game speaks to a rare promotional genius, and his talents inside the ropes are even more formidable.

He's one of those guys I pay to watch just to see them work. The outcome is generally as assured as anything in boxing can be, but he goes about his work with such economy and flair I feel well compensated even as he administers another in a long line of predictable smackdowns.

Dreaderick said...

Wide decision, indeed. If I was a gambling man, I would have gladly foregone all other bets for a year and put it all on Floyd at -250.

That said, you forgot a fourth way Floyd could lose -- the boxing gods not smiling on him, a la Bradley v. Pac (win the fight, lose the cards). CJ Roth should have to go six rounds with Floyd as penance.

baxie said...

As promised, I was gobsmacked by Roth's indefensible card. And to think, we'd all heaved a sigh of relief when we saw Adelaide Byrd stuck on an undercard fight & thus unable to fuck up the main.

And you're right- in the future I will add a "Boxing Politics/Corruption" column to my 'How Floyd Can Lose' spreadsheet....

baxie said...

and did you see that Snoop Dogg won a pound of weed betting on Floyd?

Apparently he *is* a betting man...

Dreaderick said...

I need his bookie.