LAS VEGAS –Floyd Mayweather dealt precocious Saul “Canelo” Alvarez a painfully valuable lesson at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.
If you aim at the king, you better not miss.
Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) simply outclassed the 23-year-old Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KOs) over 12 rounds to capture both a majority decision and the Mexican wunderkind’s trio of junior middleweight world title belts.
A dubious 114-114 scorecard from judge C.J. Ross—which was thankfully overruled by Craig Metcalfe’s 117-111 tally and Dave Moretti’s 116-112 total—marred an otherwise perfect night for Mayweather, who picked apart his foe wherever he chose. Whether he stood in the center of the ring or with his back on the ropes, boxing’s pound-for-pound ruler found several openings for his vaunted right hand through Alvarez’s guard.
"I'm not in control of what the judges do,” said Mayweather, who dazzled in his Nevada desert hometown. “I'm just thankful for the fans that came out to support me and support Canelo.”
Alvarez, from Guadalajara, Mex., vowed to put the first blemish on Mayweather’s career. He was reportedly the heavier man in the ring by almost 15 pounds. However, the Mexican’s pressure was thwarted throughout the night by an impenetrable defense highlighted by constant head movement and a sea of arms that parried punches and consistently protected their owner.
“I could have got the stoppage, but he kept bumping my arms, so I had to step back and take my time,” Mayweather said.
One issue heading into Saturday night surrounded the combatants’ agreement to fight at 152 pounds—two below Alvarez’s regular junior middleweight limit of 154. While both men made the weight on Friday, Alvarez ballooned to the point where he enjoyed a 15-pound advantage in the ring.
Ultimately, the size difference had no effect on the outcome. As the fight wore on, Alvarez became noticeably frustrated with his inability to land his normally fluid combinations and signature potent left hook. On the other hand, Mayweather countered those advances with incisive uppercuts and looping blows, turning those opportunities into agonizing reminders of his dominance over the sport the past two decades.
“The 15 pounds were negated because I couldn’t catch him,” Alvarez said.
Father Time has yet to catch up to the 36-year-old Mayweather, who will take home a minimum of $41.5 million and has four fights left in his lucrative deal with Showtime. Industry insiders estimate Alvarez will earn around $12.5 million.
“I’m really happy with my performance,” the usually outspoken Mayweather said before following it up with another surprising understatement. “I think I really showed my skills tonight.”
The new junior middleweight champion of the world even offered some words of encouragement for the opponent he dethroned.
“Canelo is a young, strong champion,” Mayweather said. “Mexico has produced some great champions over the years. Canelo will bounce back.”
As for Alvarez, he learned how long of a road he must walk before reaching Mayweather’s level at the pinnacle of the sport.
"There's no doubt he's a very talented fighter,” Alvarez said of his first conqueror. “There was no solution for us tonight."
GARCIA UPSETS MATTHYSSE, ENTERS MAYWEATHER SWEEPSTAKES
In the co-feature, Lucas Matthysse was expected to electrify the crowd, but defending junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia derailed his challenger’s growing train of popularity via unanimous decision.
Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs), from Trelew, Argentina, had earned his nickname “The Machine” by steamrolling his previous opponents with ruthless efficiency.
Unfortunately for him, Garcia (26-0, 16 KOs) had other ideas. The Philadelphia native expertly used his jab and left hook to box his way out of trouble throughout the bout. He even floored Matthysse in the 11th round with a flurry of shots as the Argentine could never get his offense on track.
Scores were 115-111 and 114-112 twice for Garcia, who now must receive consideration as Mayweather’s next possible opponent. Both fighters share the same adviser, Al Haymon.
“If you can make it out of Philadelphia, you can make it anywhere,” Garcia said, before referring to a moment where Matthysse knocked his mouthpiece out. “He hit me with a great shot, but I sucked it up. I’m a warrior.”
Carlos Molina (22-5-2, 6 KOs) dethroned IBF junior middleweight titlist Ishe Smith (25-6, 11 KOs) by split decision. Molina outworked Smith throughout the 12 rounds and seemed to have cruised to victory, but one of the judges submitted a 116-112 score for the defending champion. However, twin 116-112 tallies for Molina would rightfully suffice.
Former junior welterweight titlist Pablo Cesar Cano (27-3-1, 20 KOs) of Tianepantia, Mex., appeared to have clearly outslugged Las Vegas-based Brit Ashley Theophane (33-6-1, 10 KOs) after 12 rounds, but he was forced to sweat a bit until a split decision verdict was announced in his favor. A pair of judges (97-93, 98-92) overruled an errant 96-94 score for Theophane.
Luis Arias (7-0, 3 KOs), another Las Vegas-based fighter, outpointed James Winchester of Reidsville, N.C., over six rounds. All three judges saw it 60-54 for Arias.
Super middleweight Ronald Gavril (7-0, 6 KOs) of Las Vegas captured an eight-round unanimous decision in a spirited scrap with Shujaa El Amin (12-5, 6 KOs) of Flint, Mich. Scores were 79-73 across the board.
With a steady barrage of power punches, middleweight prospect Chris Pearson (12-0, 9 KOs) made quick work of Joshua Williams (9-6, 5 KOs). Referee Russell Mora prevented the Westerly, R.I., resident from continuing to fight midway through the first frame.
In the opening bout of the night, super middleweight Lanell Bellows (6-0-1, 5 KOs) of Las Vegas stopped Jordan Moore (3-1) of Logan, W.V., in the first round with a vicious body shot.