Saturday, June 1, 2013

Reflections of... Mayweather-Alvarez and Rousey-Tate II

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It's been a busy week in the fight world, and to be honest, there are quite a few matches that I could bring up for this - my first "Reflections of..." in a couple months.

I could talk about the soon-to-be-set UFC World Heavyweight Championship match: Cain Velasquez-Junior Dos Santos III. Needless to say, when the day is set for it, no fight this year is bigger or more interesting than that one in my view.

I could talk about the soon-to-be-set UFC World Lightweight Championship bout between Benson Henderson and TJ Grant, which admittedly would be a lot more compelling if Grant was a challenger I felt could threaten The Smooth One.

Or I could talk about Ronda Rousey's now-set rematch with Miesha Tate for the UFC World Women's Bantamweight Championship. Actually, I will briefly. It's sad that Cat Zingano got injured and it's even sadder that they didn't think to go with Sara McCann. Or Alexis Davis. Or someone who actually won their last fight.

BUT I get why they did it and I do think Tate will be the first to beat the first round in a Rousey fight. She almost did it the first time and she did look improved against Zingano (until she got cocky and ate the KO in the third round). I'm looking forward to the fight and actually am now leaning my rooting interest toward Tate slightly, if only because she seems to bear the same distaste for Kim Winslow's refereeing 'skills' that I do.

All of those points made, though, I want to bring up a boxing fight (Surprise!), as Floyd Mayweather Jr. (44-0) has agreed to fight Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (42-0-1) on Mexican Independence Day weekend for all three of their alphabet belts.

I'll admit, this actually IS a fight I want to see, and ESPN's Nigel Collins explained why really well in his article. For me, this is exciting because it's the first time since becoming the welterweight fighter he is today that "Pretty Boy Floyd" is facing a real opponent.

And not just any legitimate opponent, either. Alvarez is, according to The Ring magazine, a Top 10 pound-for-pound fighter. He is the first undefeated opponent Mayweather has fought (at least in the last decade or so). And this fight will match The Ring's Welterweight Champion and No. 1 Junior Middleweight contender (Mayweather) against The Ring's Junior Middleweight Champion (Alvarez).

The next few months are putting real fights in place, and the unofficial four-man tournament being done with Manny Pacquiao, Brandon Rios, Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez should be awesome. But this is THE fight for boxing right now.

Alvarez is one of the only fighters on this planet who can actually sell a card somewhat decently. He has nowhere near super-elite attractiveness, but Canelo brings the Mexican fans in droves. This will easily be the biggest buyrate Mayweather will get on PPV under the Showtime deal (unless he announces retirement before a fight or sets up a super-fight with Arum's tourney winner). Some are even suggesting it could be the second fight to ever break 2 million. That'd be quite the achievement and a lot of eyes on a fresh new talent.

Some were surprised this fight is happening, but I'm not sure why... if you really think about it. Yes, this would make sense as the last or second-to-last fight on the Showtime deal, but that's a year or so from now. In that time, Alvarez would turn 24 while Mayweather turns 37.

Mayweather knows his time as the elite fighter of boxing can only go so long, and this "six fights in 18 months" deal will wear on him pretty well before all is said and done. For all he knows, he may lose a step of speed by the time this deal ends.

Alvarez, on the other hand, is only going to get better. In a year's time, he will have grown into his body even more so than today, he'll be stronger and he'll move better. Mayweather will have a hard enough time fighting at the 152-pound catchweight when only Alvarez will have to cut to reach it (and probably about a 20-pound cut at that). Allowing him time to refine his skills for another year while Floyd's wane would border on insanity.

I'll admit, I pegged Alvarez a year or two ago as the man who would finally stop the "Money" from flowing anymore. But the fact that he's still so raw makes me think he won't be able to do it. I'm looking forward to the fight because this will give a good marker as to how much Alvarez has advanced and how Mayweather does when he's not fighting opponents who are either VASTLY undersized or well past their prime.

If Alvarez wins, we have boxing's newest mega-star. If Mayweather wins, he adds a possible feather in his cap for his legacy (assuming Alvarez ends his career living up to his current hype). All we know now is that the best possible fight that could realistically happen in boxing is happening. And we should all be thankful for that.

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