Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mayweather Still The Best Pound For Pound

There was much intrigue and anticipation leading up to the World Jr. Middleweight championship unification bout between undefeated multi-division world champion Floyd Mayweather and undefeated WBC Jr. Middleweight world champion Saul Alvarez. This fight had all the plausible ingredients to be a major pay-per-view and box office draw. It also however, had the ingredients going in of a fight between a future Hall of Famer and a young unbeaten champion who has yet to enter his prime. A fight that had the potential to be a classic.

All of the anticipation leading up to this fight culminated in what overall should be considered a great night for the sport of Boxing on September 14th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the lead up to this fight, this observer stated that it was critical in my opinion that Alvarez put pressure on Mayweather from the outset. I stated that Alvarez needed to be consistent in throwing his jab and also consistent in pushing Mayweather back.

When the fight began however, it was somewhat surprising to see the thirty-six-year-old Mayweather as the one who was coming forward in a clear attempt to test the twenty-three-year-old Alvarez who despite an undefeated record of 42-0-1, with 30 knockouts coming into the fight had never been in a fight with someone who is of the level of a Floyd Mayweather. To Alvarez’ credit he was composed, not intimidated, and solid defensively. 

Alvarez however, opted to fight tactically with Mayweather and not putting forth consistent pressure which most observers this one included felt would be to his advantage. A tactical chess match seemed to play right into Mayweather’s hands. It seemed that neither fighter wanted to make the first move early on with Alvarez electing to fight at long range seemingly looking to force Mayweather to commit and look to counter Mayweather’s offense. Although this fight was fought seemingly at Mayweather’s pace, Alvarez was able to have his moments landing occasional hooks to the head as well as periodically landing combinations to the body.

An argument could be made that the first four rounds of this fight were “Swing rounds” that could have caused a difference of opinion as to who won those rounds due to the pace that the fight was being fought and both fighters being able to have their moments. The difference in this fight as the rounds went on was Mayweather’s ability to get his punches off first, use his lateral movement to defend, and deflect Alvarez’ offense. Not only did Mayweather seem to get off first, he also landed the cleaner, more effective punches led by an excellent jab that he seemingly landed whenever he threw it. As the fight went on, Mayweather picked his shots landing combinations to the head and body of Alvarez.

Alvarez was active in throwing punches, but the key in this fight was he could not find a way to land flush on Mayweather, who showed his great defense and accuracy when he threw punches landing 232 of 505 total punches throughout the twelve round championship bout to Alvarez’ 117 of 526 punches thrown according to CompuBox. 

What should also not be overlooked is that Mayweather was more than willing to engage with Alvarez throughout the fight and consistently beat him to the punch. In a tactical Boxing match sometimes it is as simple as who has the quicker hands. In this fight that fighter was Floyd Mayweather. As I have said many times over the years, although Floyd Mayweather’s Boxing style may not always be crowd pleasing, for Boxing purists it is a pleasure to watch.

Although Alvarez never stopped trying to turn the momentum in his favor and continued to attempt to walk Mayweather down; he was unable to cut off the ring and trap Mayweather consistently throughout this fight due to Mayweather’s lateral movement , precision timing, and counter punching. Alvarez however, fought well in this fight and deserves credit for the effort he put forth. This fight could be best described as a great fighter at the peak of his greatness besting a fighter who could and probably will be considered a great fighter in the years to come. In my opinion, Showtime Boxing analyst Al Bernstein summed it up best when he said “ “Canelo “(Alvarez) may well be the fighter of tomorrow, he is not quite yet the fighter of today.”

Last week, I closed my comments in the build up to Mayweather-Alvarez by saying that it was my hope that as the Boxing world prepared for another “Super Fight” that the sport of Boxing would at least be spared for one night from any controversy or, would be black eyes that all too often plague the sport. For the most part, as a whole I got my wish as the card headlined by Mayweather and Alvarez simply titled “The One” provided plenty of action and was well-matched.

The ugly element of controversy however, reared its head when the decision of Mayweather-Alvarez was announced. After a fight with a consensus among fans and experts alike being a clear victory for Floyd Mayweather, Judge C.J. Ross turned in a baffling score of 114-114 calling the fight a draw.

Many Boxing fans will remember Ross for turning in a scorecard of 115-113 in favor of Tim Bradley in his controversial decision over Manny Pacquiao last year. The decision which raised the ire of fans, experts, and even got the brief attention of Senators John McCain and Harry Reid who introduced legislation that would create a national board of control in the United States to oversee and restore the integrity of the sport of Boxing. Unfortunately, the efforts of Senators McCain and Reid seemed to have fallen on deaf ears as there was not much said following the brief introduction of legislation in the immediate aftermath of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight.

Unlike the Pacquiao-Bradley decision however, Judge Ross’ scorecard did not play as much a factor in the Mayweather-Alvarez fight. Judges Dave Moretti, who scored the fight 116-112, and Craig Metcalfe who scored the fight 117-111 respectfully had Mayweather as the winner giving Mayweather a justified decision win.

Although I am not one who likes to criticize judges for the sake of criticizing judges, and although much criticism has been directed toward C.J. Ross for her scorecard I must say that I disagree with how she saw this fight. The fight was fought at a tactical pace and the first four rounds could have a difference of opinion as to who won those rounds. I fail to see however, how Alvarez could have won six out of twelve rounds. Mayweather was the effective aggressor and although Alvarez was able to have his moments in the fight, he was not consistent enough to win six rounds.

Unofficially, I scored this fight the same as Craig Metcalfe 117-111 for Mayweather giving rounds two, ten, and twelve to Alvarez. Ross however, gave rounds one, three, eight, nine, eleven, and twelve to Alvarez. If this fight had knockdowns scored against Mayweather or point deductions against Mayweather I could potentially see the argument of Judge Ross. I cannot however, see an argument as there were no knockdowns, no point deductions and Mayweather getting the better of the action for the majority of the fight.

For her part, according to TMZ Ross has simply stated “I stand by my decision.” On one hand one could say that it is good for a judge to stand behind their score of a fight. On another hand however, for Ross to ignore criticism of her scoring especially after the Pacquiao-Bradley controversy is at least a little surprising. What is not surprising is the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s stance that it has no plans of disciplinary action against Ross much as there was no disciplinary action taken by the commission following the Pacquiao-Bradley fight.

This observer was extremely critical of the scoring of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight and I along with many other members of media and Boxing fans said that it was time to clean up the sport… In this case the result of this fight was right and just as Mayweather earned his 45th victory in as many fights. Would this controversy regarding the scorecard of C.J. Ross be turned up had the scorecard led to a loss against Mayweather in a fight that he clearly dominated?  Certainly…  It is however, refreshing to see that people whether they be a fan or expert are looking for accountability in a sport that needs accountability.

Whether this latest controversy leads to more calls for government intervention in the sport remains to be seen.  In the aftermath of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight, I had the pleasure of conversing with several readers and observers who suggested to me that the potential way that real change will come to the sport in the state of Nevada is if promoters and fighters simply choose to stage fights and fight elsewhere. One observer said very boldly “Hit them in the pocketbook.”

It is debatable as to whether the theory of economic loss would lead to a change in any state athletic commission with regard to the sport of Boxing or even the sport of Mixed Martial Arts that has seen its own share of controversial decisions. This observer however, believes that the only way that there will ever be federal intervention to oversee the sport of Boxing in the United States is if the people who care about the sport, the Fans, Fighters, Broadcasters, Journalists and what have you, all rise as one and demand it. Demand it by writing politicians and those who can make a national board of control for the sport of Boxing possible. We are all guilty for quieting down on this issue once it appears that steps might be taken that may lead to a national Boxing board of control here in the United States.

Only by the demand of the people will such a concept be brought to fruition. For the moment, the Mayweather-Alvarez fight and the night of Boxing overall on September 14th in Las Vegas should be viewed as a victory for the sport of Boxing. Even if one judge’s scorecard has been called into question it was a memorable night that Boxing surely will benefit from. 

”And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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