Floyd “Money” Mayweather gave his young opponent from Mexico, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, a lesson in the art of boxing Saturday night. But the only mystery of the bout was why one judge saw it as a draw and had the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer saying he thought her scorecard “was a joke.”
Mayweather got stronger and more accurate as the fight wore on, picking apart Alvarez en route to winning a majority decision and the unified super welterweight titles before a sold-out, raucous crowd of 16,746.
Judge CJ Ross scored it a draw, 114-114, eliciting boos from the crowd. The other judges scored it 117-111 and 116-112 for Mayweather, who came in as a nearly 3-1 favorite. Ross, 63, has been involved in controversial decisions in the past. She scored the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight in 2012 for Bradley. Bradley ended up winning that fight in one of the biggest scoring controversies
“I thought it was a joke,” Mayweather said when asked about the scoring.
Ross’ scorecard was criticized roundly on Twitter by boxing writers at the fight who had Mayweather with a much more dominant performance. Former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis even said on Twitter, “The judge that had it a draw needs to quit.”
“I’m not in control of what the judges do,” said Mayweather, 36, who wore metallic blue gloves and blue and silver snakeskin trunks. “I’m a little shocked. … Things happen in the sport of boxing. Everything is a learning experience.”
At the post-fight press conference, Mayweather said he would leave the judging controversy in the hands of the Nevada Commission, and “if they think she should be out there judging fights, then so be it.”
Mayweather’s accuracy showed in the final punch stats. He landed 46% of his punches (232 of 505) while Alvarez was just 117 of 526 (22%). Alvarez did land 232 power punches to Mayweather’s 175.
The loss was the first of Alvarez’s career, dropping his record to 42-1-1, with 30 KOs.
“My dad (trainer Floyd Sr.) had a great gameplan,” Mayweather said, “to go out there, be patient and use the jab. I got the job done.”
Early in the fight, the crowd was chanting “Si se puede” (yes we can), and “Ca-Ne-Lo.” But by the eighth round, the crowd was chanting “TMT, TMT” (The Money Team) and “USA, USA.”
Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) used a strong jab and lightning-quick straight leads, and Alvarez just could not penetrate the defense that Mayweather has become famous for, using his left shoulder roll to block many punches. By the seventh round, it was apparent that Alvarez was getting frustrated by his inability to get to Mayweather.
“I couldn’t catch him, he’s very elusive,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “He’s a great fighter and an intelligent fighter.”
Alvarez, who has been fighting since he was 15, was done in by Mayweather’s 17 years of professional experience.
By the 10th round, Alvarez appeared worn out from chasing Mayweather around the ring, fighting with his mouth open, a sure sign of fatigue.
“He’s got a lot of experience and I honestly couldn’t find him,” Alvarez said. “In the late rounds, I felt frustrated.
“I recognize that he beat me,” Alvarez continued. “At the same time, he missed me a lot. His punches would land on my gloves. I wanted to win but I couldn’t find it.”
Alvarez recognizes he still has a bright future despite being picked apart by the world’s best fighter. “I’m 23, and I’m still going to work to fight big fights,” he said.
Mayweather gave his vanquished opponent much credit.
“Canelo is a young, strong champion,” he said. “I fought a true champion tonight. The guy can take this loss and bounce back from this.”
Mayweather said he stuck to his father’s gameplan, but “I think if I had pressed the attack earlier, I could’ve got the stoppage,” he said. “But I was taking my time. In a couple of the rounds, we kept bumping arms. They hurt, so I had to pull back and take some time.”
Asked about possibly fighting the winner of the Danny Garcia-Lucas Matthysse fight (Garcia won), Mayweather said, “I saw that fight. Both fought strong and hard. They both looked good, but I don’t know what I’m going to do next.”
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer has said he expects “The One” to be the richest event in the history of boxing.
It has set a number of records, including the highest guaranteed purse for a fighter – “Money” Mayweather is guaranteed $41.5 million, easily eclipsing his previous record of $32 million for his May fight against Robert Guerrero. Saturday’s fight also had a live gate of more than $20 million; the MGM Grand Garden Arena sold out in several hours.
The co-promoters, Golden Boy and Mayweather Promotions, are hopeful of setting a record in pay-per-view sales. The previous record of 2.4 million was set by Mayweather for his fight against Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. Schaefer said early indications from cable operators across the country have been promising.
The fight against Alvarez was the second of Mayweather’s six-fight deal with Showtime that he signed in February, a deal that could be worth as much as $200 million. Mayweather ranked 14th on Forbes‘ list of highest-paid athletes last year. He has earned about $150 million since 2010, and that’s just in guaranteed prize money. He also gets upside from pay-per-view revenue for each of his fights.
Alvarez was guaranteed $5 million but is expected to get additional money from Mexican television contracts, which could push his earnings past the $12 million mark.
But the numbers that seemed to draw the most reaction after the fight were Ross’ scores.
“Another black eye for boxing,” trainer and analyst Teddy Atlas said on ESPN. “Boxing is like a Cyclops, and, guess what, there are no more eyes to blacken. ….. Boxing is destroying itself.”
By Bob Velin