On Saturday night in Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather proved again that he was the not only the best 154 lber in the world, but the best boxer in the game today. Mayweather out sped and out boxed his younger, bigger and stronger opponent Saul Alvarez over 12 fairly one sided rounds. Mayweather didn't completely have it his own way, but he did enough to leave no one uncertain of just how good he is.
The Mexican standout came to fight and he stuck to his game plan of patiently pressing forward, working behind a jab, and unloading when he got Mayweather against the ropes. The problem was, there weren't many moments when Mayweather complied. The American was astonishingly sharp from the opening round, gliding around the ring and sticking his slower opponent with razor like jabs and blindingly fast right hands. Although significantly smaller, Mayweather also stood his ground throughout the fight, countering Alvarez on the inside with incredibly accurate shots that left the Mexican confused and unable to reply. Alvarez had success with his own jab in several of the rounds, snapping Mayweather's head back on occasion and following up with some vicious body punching, but Mayweather's defensive genius left Alvarez swiping at thin air for much of the fight. Alvarez was by no means beaten up, and his immense skill and poise were evident throughout the bout. He was just a little too slow and at 23, a little too inexperienced to take on the best fighter on the planet.
"It was simple: I couldn't catch him," said Alvarez after the fight. "He was very elusive. He's a great fighter. I did not know how to get him. He is very intelligent. He's got a lot of experience. Honestly, I couldn't find him. In the later rounds, I felt frustrated. I recognize that he beat me. I tried to connect on him, but I just couldn't. At the same time, he also missed me a lot. A lot of punches landed on my gloves."
Said Mayweather: "Seventeen years, and I'm still going strong. I think had I pressed the attack earlier, I could have gotten the stoppage, but I am very happy with my performance"
"I took my time; I listened to my dad [trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr.]," Mayweather went on. "My father was telling me what to do and to press the attack. My dad had a brilliant game plan."
Mayweather has four fights left in a 30-month deal he signed earlier this year with Showtime and CBS after leaving HBO, and the search is on for his next opponent. Given the ease with which he took apart Alvarez, no one under 154 lbs should be favored to beat him.
Here's a guide to the top contenders and how they might do against the pound for pound champ:
Bradley is set to face Juan Manuel Marquez next month, and should he beat the Mexican veteran, he will most certainly be in the running for a shot against Mayweather. Bradley can most definitely be competitive with Mayweather given his relentlessness and toughness. When he wants to be, Bradley is also an excellent boxer with a lot of ring craft (although the California native often gets dragged into unnecessary brawls). Bradley's style is well suited to take on Mayweather as he crowds, bullies and mauls to get his way in the ring, and won't be intimidated by Mayweather's speed. Can he do enough to win? Probably not given Mayweather's incredible accuracy and superior technique, but it could be a very interesting fight.
140 lb champ Garcia beat feared puncher Lucas Matthysse on the undercard of the Mayweather fight on Saturday night in convincing fashion. It was a close fight, but the Philadelphia native displayed ring maturity, punching power and very solid fundamentals. Garcia certainly has the power to hurt Mayweather, but he would be most likely be a little too slow to have a chance of pulling the upset. Garcia has consistently surprised everyone in the boxing world by winning every fight he was supposed to lose, so you can't count him out, but Mayweather might be a step too far.
Amir Khan is a bit of a wild card here - the Brit has faster hands than Mayweather, and when fully focused, has the ability to beat anyone in the world. Khan blows hot and cold in fights and gets drawn into brawls with fighters who are far less skilled than him causing him to lose fights he could have won had he boxed intelligently. However, Khan has excelled against slick boxers, shutting out Pauli Malignaggi and completely blitzing Zab Judah. Judah, it should be remembered, gave Floyd considerable problems when they fought back in 2006, mostly due to his speed (he even scored a knocked down against Floyd, although it wasn't officially ruled one). If Judah's speed bothered Mayweather, then Khan's will be extremely troubling. However, Floyd's extreme ring intelligence should be more than enough to negate the Brit's athletic advantages, and once he times the somewhat chinny Khan, it would most likely be lights out some time after the 6th or 7th round.
In 2009-2010, Manny Pacquiao was a genuine threat to Floyd Mayweather. The dynamic Filipino had the speed, punching power and aggressiveness to put some serious hurt on Floyd, and despite everyone's best efforts, the fight never materialized. Why? Because Mayweather didn't want anything to do with him. Instead of taking the Pac Man on, Mayweather and his team spread rumors about Pacquiao taking performance enhancing drugs (with absolutely no evidence whatsoever). While Mayweather maintains he tried to make the fight, pretty much everyone knows he saw how dangerous Pacquiao was and found a convenient a way out. Pacquiao was quite literally a force of nature back then, battering opponent after opponent into submission with frightening displays of speed and power. However, Pacquiao has slipped in recent years, most notably getting knocked out cold by long time rival Juan Manuel Marquez. He still has the ability to catch Mayweather as he's still super quick, but the relentlessness hasn't been seen in a while and it is most likely gone for good. Mayweather would be heavily favored to beat Pacquiao now, and rightly so.
The young, flashy American is like Floyd in many ways - quick, intelligent and defensively gifted. Although a power puncher in the lower weight classes, right now, Broner doesn't have the size at 147 to trouble Floyd. He fought Paulie Malignaggi at welterweight earlier this year and simply didn't show the same concussive punching as he had at 135lbs. Without the power advantage, Broner would come unstuck against Mayweather given he isn't better in any department. He might be as quick, but he isn't quite as intelligent or as good at countering. It could be an interesting fight in a couple of years, but given their close relationship, it's unlikely the fight would happen anyway.
Golovkin is the best fighter at 160lb, and a genuine terror. The knockout artist's team has expressed willingness to go down to 154lbs to fight Floyd, but don't expect 'The Money Team' to return any of their calls. Golovkin would put some serious hurt on Mayweather given his potent blend of natural instinct, sickening power, and fluidity in the ring. Mayweather shouldn't have to fight Golovkin to prove himself, as the Kazakh boxer is just too big.