September 11, 2013

THE ONE - Mayweather vs Canelo KO Digest Staff Predictions

Money vs Mexico
By Jeffrey Freeman — When reigning World Welterweight Champion Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr (44-0, 26 KOs) steps into the ring on September 14th in Las Vegas, NV to face defending World Junior Middleweight Champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs) it will match his busiest calendar year as an active fighter since 2007 when he faced Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya in mega fights. Both Hatton and De La Hoya were beaten by Mayweather but the split decision loss was especially tough for De La Hoya to accept. Since retiring in 2008 to become a boxing promoter, the Golden Boy's dreams of beating Mayweather have continued on vicariously through the hopes and skills of the five fighters that he's promoted in high profile matches against Mayweather. Juan Manuel Marquez, Sugar Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz, Miguel Cotto, and Robert Guerrero have all come up short of being the one to "finally" beat Mayweather. Can the Golden Boy's unbeaten Cinnamon Boy finally be the one or will De La Hoya have to keep waiting for Mayweather to finally be defeated?

With these questions in mind, here's how the knowledgeable staff of boxing writers and reporters at KO Digest envision THE ONE playing out at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Included you will also find KO Digest staff predictions for the highly anticipated undercard bout featuring World Junior Welterweight Champion Danny "Swift" Garcia (26-0, 16 KOs) defending his title against the highly respected, hard punching Argentine (34-2, 32 KOs) Lucas "The Machine" Matthysse.

Terry Strawson: Floyd Mayweather W12 Canelo Alvarez -- In what's billed as the biggest fight of the decade, Floyd Mayweather Jr will pot-shot his way to a decision against the younger Canelo. Alvarez, whose stock rose after his marquee victory over Austin Trout in April, will look to stalk Mayweather with the same educated pressure that helped him prevail over Trout. Unfortunately for him and his huge following of adoring fans, it will not be enough to out-do the aging face of boxing. Mayweather is simply too good and although he may not have it all his own way during the encounter, he will no doubt end the night with his hand raised. Mayweather by unanimous decision. 

Danny Garcia W12 Lucas Matthysse - Matthysse is the most feared man in his division at the moment and Danny Garcia, the current WBC/WBA/RING champion, probably goes into this fight a slight underdog with odds makers. However, I cannot bet against him. I expected Kendall Holt to knock him out, Amir Khan to out-box him and Erik Morales to simply have too much experience. Each time though, Garcia has found a way to win. I expect him, and his absolute treat of a father Angel, to find a way once more. Matthysse is dangerous and his power is now accompanied by a confidence and belief that may have been missing in his controversial loss to Zab Judah. I envision an incredibly fast start from him as he looks to bombard Garcia with heavy shots, and continue on from his impressive destruction of Lamont Peterson. Having weathered the early storm, Garcia will finish the fight on the front foot. Looking stronger than his hard-hitting counterpart, Garcia will walk away with a majority decision. ~ Terry Strawson is a regular contributor to KO Digest and his monthly "Spotlight on Boxing's Up and Comers" column is one of the most informative features that we're proud to offer on the 15th of every month to readers of KO Digest. 

David McLeod: Floyd Mayweather W12 Canelo Alvarez -- At the bell, Floyd elects to play a game of cat and mouse rather than stand and  trade with a naturally bigger opponent. The plan is to weaken the younger fighter first and exchange punches later. Floyd uses his edge in speed and experience to attempt an early points lead although Canelo's hand speed is respectable. Floyd's lead right hands and  jab to the body keep Canelo momentarily at bay. Similar to the Mayweather-Cotto fight, Canelo also relies on the jab to work his way inside to rough up his opponent. Whenever Money's back hits the rope, he ducks and darts out of the corner. Canelo will have his moments and he may shock the world with a flash knockdown late in the fight courtesy of an uppercut or left hook as Floyd attempts to duck away from the corner. Surprisingly, the catchweight won't effect Canelo, and the fight is competitive down the stretch. Mayweather is an intelligent fighter, and the more experienced fighter finds a way to pull it out. Floyd by decision, 116-112.

Will Matthysse be celebrating a win over Garcia?
Lucas Matthysse TKO9 Danny Garcia - Normally a slow starter, Danny will attempt to start a little faster. As expected, he will elect to box, rather than trade with Matthysse. Garcia will win some of the early rounds by using the jab, and moving away from the left hook. The problem is two-fold, as Garcia has proven in the past that he gets hit with right hands, and Matthysse' right hand is almost as deadly as his hook. Matthysse, not overly concerned, elects to attack the body and cash in later. As the fight approaches the mid-rounds, there is a subtle shift, as "Swift" Garcia begins to stand and trade more with his iron chinned opponent. The effect of the body punches are beginning to take their toll. Slowly, Garcia gives a little ground, and occasionally his back hits the ropes.

In the ninth, a right hand stuns Garcia, and he looks to hold. "The Machine," known to be a great finisher, immediately goes back to the body, before lowering the boom. A left hook drops Danny in the corner, and after the brave champion regains his feet, the fight is allowed to continue. A left hook, and a pair of right hands to the head have Garcia out on his feet, and the referee immediately jumps in to rescue him. Matthysse by TKO in the 9th. ~ Self proclaimed boxing junkie David McLeod is a prolific contributor to KO Digest. In addition to covering live Broadway Boxing shows in the New York City area for KO Digest, his Friday Night Fight Flashback columns are very popular with fight fans.  

Mark A. Jones: Floyd Mayweather W12 Canelo Alvarez -- As the summer season winds down, boxing gives us perhaps a Super Bout for the ages matching the consensus #1 pound for pound fighter in the sport, Floyd Mayweather against the most popular fighter in boxing, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Both fighters are undefeated with Alvarez fighting to a draw against a fighter with a losing record and in his third professional start, escaped by the cinnamon hair of his chinny-chin-chin against the underappreciated and current IBF lightweight champion, Miguel Vazquez. ‘Canelo’, a high volume mid-range hooker, has improved dramatically since struggling with journeyman, Larry Mosley in October, 2008 rendering the apprenticeship part of his career where he struggled mightily at times, unrelated to his current skill level.

Easy Money for Mayweather or a changing of the old guard?
Mayweather, a strategic low-volume counter-puncher, and entering the post-prime of his Hall of Fame career, has faced the far greater competition and is unequaled in boxing IQ and conditioning. Mayweather gives away some of the early rounds to the volume of Alvarez as he learns his aggressive opponents movements and punch patterns. As Alvarez fades after round six, Mayweather will rally winning the match by a unanimous decision. What most concerns me is that if the fight is closely contested, the Boxing Gods may judge Mayweather as they did George Foreman against Shannon Briggs and Bernard Hopkins against Jermain Taylor and award the match to Alvarez to indicate a changing of the guard.

Danny Garcia W12 Lucas Matthysse - It is exciting when two perceived punchers are fighting for a world title on a big stage. We live in an era where the promoters give the current boxing fans what they want – a Rocky Balboa fight. In this matchup, Danny Garcia is actually from Philadelphia but is the boxer-puncher whereas the opponent, the iron-fisted, Lucas Martin Matthysse is the awkward-moving crowd pleasing banger. Garcia, a mid-range hooker possesses underrated boxing skills. Owning an old-school style of defense, Garcia rolls with punches and allows others to graze or barely miss him always placing himself in a proper range to counter. He doesn’t catch as many clean punches as people believe. Like many of the past greats from Philadelphia, Garcia owns a numbing left hook which knocked out Amir Khan just over a year ago. Garcia’s counter-punching ability will lend him well against the free-swinging two-fisted attack of Matthysse. Matthysse missed wildly and reached for Lamont Peterson who could not capitalize on the defensive liabilities of Matthysse like Judah and Alexander did in spots. Matthysse's best chance is early while the counter-puncher Garcia is learning his punch patterns and movements. If Garcia is still there after the end of the third round, he will prevail. Garcia suffers an early knockdown but rallies to win a unanimous decision. ~ Mark A. Jones is an expert in women's boxing and his monthly 'Sweet Side of the Sweet Science' column on KO Digest is one of the most informative and popular features that we are proud to offer boxing fans of all genders, ethnicities, and personal persuasions. 

Where will the Golden Boy be cheering for Canelo?
John Scheinman: Floyd Mayweather W12 Canelo Alvarez -- Alvarez presents yet another different kind of challenge to Mayweather, a young, determined, multifaceted fighter with a variety of weapons. I believed the key to beating Mayweather was to take him inside, like Cotto attempted to do, but that warrior just did not hit hard enough to turn the tide. The style seemed correct. We will not get that here. Instead, we will see Alvarez attempt to match Mayweather in artistry and tactics. In fights like these, there seem to be only brief moments where damage is done, but they are magnified by their infrequency. I do not see a war here, but, rather, two very focused and respectful boxers going at it, laying traps, old cagey stuff. Mayweather by decision. 

Lucas Matthysse KO9 Danny Garcia - Matthysse wins in 9 rounds because he hits too hard, rarely gets hurt, and he's that good. Garcia can tire and takes too many shots. ~ Based in the DC area, John Scheinman is an occasional contributor to KO Digest. His written work has appeared on the pages of The Ring and Bert Sugar's Boxing Illustrated. 

Bonnett predicts an early night
Derek Bonnett: Floyd Mayweather W12 Canelo Alvarez -- I picked Floyd Mayweather to beat Saul Alvarez since this fight was first signed. I have never wavered. Alvarez has come along nicely and certainly has improved, but thus far he has failed to "wow" fans when he was on the biggest platforms of his career. His wins over Mosley and Lopez came up short for expectations. While he impressed me with greater diversity in the Trout fight and I felt he won, he was not able to assert himself clearly over a man with less boxing ability than his current opponent. PBF is certainly standing his ground more and that could put him in harm's way as wasn't the case against Ortiz or Cotto. A more flatfooted Mayweather is a more vulnerable one. Nevertheless, Floyd wins a split decision in a genuinely close fight. 

Lucas Matthysse KO4 Danny Garcia - Lucas Matthysse can do more than just hit, but lately that much hasn't mattered. I think his aura as much as his ability wins this fight for the Argentine fighter. He is beginning to separate himself greatly from his world class competitors as he failed to do with Judah and Alexander. Garcia has been brought up well, but in a vastly different fashion. Garcia could have success with straight shots as long as he can avoid getting tagged with Matthysse's early barrage. However, I see him being too tentative early on and that allowing Matthysse to set the tone for the fight. Matthysse KO4. ~ Derek "DBO" Bonnett is an experienced boxing reporter with Specializing in ratings and lighter weight fighters, Bonnett is a monthly contributor on KO Digest and writes the popular "Bantamweights & Below" column

Joel Sebastianelli: Floyd Mayweather W12 Canelo Alvarez -- From the moment this fight was first announced, I felt as though Canelo Alvarez had a much more realistic chance to defeat Floyd Mayweather than many of his previous opponents. Alvarez's size is the biggest advantage, but it won't be enough. The young Mexican may not have what it takes to defeat the veteran, who still possesses the lightning fast reflexes and decision making that have made him the best in the sport, but he will put up a fair fight and clock Mayweather on occasion to remind the 36 year old he cannot take rounds off. Alvarez may not fare quite as well as his promoter Oscar De La Hoya did in May of 2007, but I expect Canelo to take three or four rounds in another typical Mayweather fight. 

Sebastianelli sees another win for father and son 
Danny Garcia W12 Lucas Matthysse - Since bursting onto the mainstream boxing scene, Lucas Matthysse has been labeled as one of the most fearsome punchers in the sport. After a pair of split decision losses to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander, winnable fights in which Matthysse simply didn't do enough to eke out the victory, I soured on the 30 year old. Although he redeemed himself with a string of explosive victories recently, the blueprint for how to beat the him has been posted, and Danny Garcia possesses the skills to do it. The champion has shown some pop in his fists, and while he would be ill-advised to slug with Matthysse, Garcia can box too, and should be able to stay undefeated by earning a close decision. ~ Joel joined KO Digest in January 2013 and has been a fixture on press row in the New England area for three years. His monthly KO Digest interview is one of the site's most popular features. 

Steve Bridge: Floyd Mayweather W12 Canelo Alvarez -- Mayweather has made a career out of making the division's best look ordinary and there's no reason to think this fight will be any different. Canelo is a good, young, strong champion with a world of pride and a whole country behind him, but this will be a new experience for the Mexican superstar, the big show, and he's in with the best. Frustration could play a factor when things don't go his way and if he can't make the proper adjustments he's in trouble. Canelo has the size and power to make it interesting if Floyd has slowed a step, but Floyd's boxing IQ will pull him through. I see the first five rounds being close with Canelo boxing aggressively and using the jab. Floyd will make the necessary adjustments and begin to pull away through the middle rounds. Alvarez's pride will force him into a higher gear once he sees the fight slipping away and he'll push Floyd hard through the championship rounds, but it's not going to be enough. Floyd takes it by unanimous decision in an exciting but tactical boxing clinic.

Lucas Matthysse TKO7 Danny Garcia - I'm picking "The Machine" to come out firing on all cylinders, making swift work of Danny Garcia, a solid champion with good skills, but I'm not so sure that victories over a shot Erik Morales and a past his best Zab Judah will be enough to prepare him to dismantle the Machine. In most people's minds, Matthysse should be an undefeated fighter and in those two fights he lost, he was in with boxers who used movement. Garcia will be there to be hit, he isn't afraid to mix it up, and that is going to be his undoing. ~ Steve Bridge is a fanatical contributor on KO Digest and his new Dream Fight feature on the KO Digest Facebook page is extremely popular.

Mayweather in a familiar position
Gopal Rao: Floyd Mayweather W12 Canelo Alvarez -- Canelo may yet ascend to the top spot on the Pound for Pound lists at some point, but now is not his time. The only opponent on his ledger who even comes close to replicating what he'll face in Floyd Jr is Austin Trout. I didn't see enough from Canelo in that fight to make me think he can beat Mayweather. If Canelo wins three rounds, I'll be mighty impressed. If he wins four, his fans will be crying robbery afterwards.

Lucas Matthysse KO10 Danny Garcia - Garcia's supporters insist that he can outbox Matthysse or perhaps even stop him late. I don't think anybody thinks Garcia will win a slugging contest. Matthysse has faced some pretty good boxers already in Zab Judah and Devon Alexander, and in both cases, he was the one making the tactical adjustments and landing big shots at an increasing rate as the fight wore on. Lucas lost both of those decisions, however, and there may be something there that Danny can use in his gameplan. My prediction is that Garcia starts out by trying to use angles and movement to keep Lucas off balance, but gets dragged into an increasing number of exchanges with each passing round. By the late rounds, I envision a game but out-gunned Garcia being saved by the referee as he's absorbing brutal punishment. ~ Based in California, Gopal Rao is a talented contributor on KO Digest with West Coast Ringside Reports and fight previews.

The Pastor of Pugilism prophetizes Matthysse's hands raised
Chuck Marbry: Floyd Mayweather W12 Canelo Alvarez -- Canelo will be able to pressure Floyd Jr some early, enough to move him out of his rhythm a bit, but at the end of twelve, look for Money Mayweather to pull out a very close decision.

Lucas Matthysse KO Danny Garcia - I see Matthysse's power being too much for Garcia to overcome, and Matthysse winning by late round stoppage.  ~ Affectionately known as the Pastor of Pugilism, former boxer and wrestler Chuck Marbry is a regular contributor on KO Digest with his weekly boxing sermon "Orthodox Stance" faithfully appearing every Sunday on the KO Digest Facebook page.

Edwin "Ace" Ayala: Canelo Alvarez SD12 Floyd Mayweather -- I see this fight as a repeat of the first Mayweather vs Jose Luis Castillo fight in which Castillo gave "Money" all he could handle and then some. Canelo and Castillo have similar styles. The power advantage definitely goes to Alvarez. Though neither fighter has been on the canvas, Mayweather was badly hurt in the second round against Shane Mosley and almost went down. Alvarez has never been close to going down. Alvarez may have the edge in the strength of his chin as well. As far as hand speed and footwork are concerned there's no doubt as to Mayweather's superiority. Alvarez is not a plodding slugger as he showed in his win over Trout, he does have some boxing skills, but no where near those of his opponent. The defense of Alvarez is above that of most Mexican fighters but there is no comparison to the mastery of Mayweather, whose "shoulder roll" is almost as legendary as his defensive instincts.

"Ace" Ayala picks the Canelo upset
Here's the problem though: Alvarez at age 23 has been on the rise and active with 33 fights since '07, while Mayweather's age of 36 isn't helped with a total of 6 fights in the same span of time which has to show up at some point. That point shows in this fight, Mayweather's third foray into a higher weight class. He'll look good and fresh in the beginning but as the fight wears on "Money" will as well. Alvarez finds it hard to hit Mayweather flush at first but as he and his trainers realize that Mayweather's punches aren't hurting him, he'll be instructed by his corner to bang on anything that doesn't move. Inactivity coupled with age and Alvarez's relentless attack causes Mayweather to slow down just enough to have to trade with his foe and this will be his downfall. He'll go the distance but lose his "0" to Alvarez via closer than expected split decision.

Danny Garcia W12 Lucas Matthysse - When unbeaten Danny Garcia puts his WBA and WBC junior welterweight titles on the line against WBC interim champ Lucas Matthysse, it just may be the fight of the night. Let's take a look at Garcia first who's beaten such names as the great Erik Morales twice (W12 and KO4), ex-champs Amir Khan (KO4), Zab Judah (W12), Kendall Holt (W12), and Nate Campbell (W10) among other contenders. An exceptional list but no one close to the power Matthysse has put on display. Only four fighters have not been stopped by Matthysse and they were Zab Judah (L12), Devon Alexander (L10), Carlos Adan Jerez (W10), and Bernardino Gonzalez (WDQ3). Though his résumé doesn't read like a who's who in boxing, the list includes former world champions Lamont Peterson (KO3), Humberto Soto (KO5), Demarcus Corley (KO8), and Vivian Harris (KO4). Power edge goes to Matthysse. As far as the strength of their chins, this is a tough one to so I'll call it a draw. When it comes to boxing skills, Garcia has shown us that what he lacks in power, he more than makes up for in natural ability. Boxer is not a moniker which I would put under Matthysse's name, but by no means is he a free swinging slugger. Then again he hasn't had to show any skills considering his average of just over 3 rounds per fight. I give Garcia a bit of an edge in boxing skills. Defense is a tough to call but I'll do so by taking a look at their one common opponent Judah who lost to Garcia but beat Matthysse via highly controversial split decision. Judah landed at a 46% clip in the win against Matthysse and a 29% rate in the loss to Garcia. Now this doesn't necessarily mean Garcia has the better defense but is indicative of the problems a pure power puncher (Matthysse) has against a boxer/puncher (Garcia). When all is said and done, defense is a draw. The thing that sticks in my head are the two losses on Matthysse's record to Judah and Alexander who have similar styles to Garcia. I envision Matthysse having success early, maybe even dropping his opponent, but his power diminishing as the fight goes into the later rounds. That's when Garcia takes over by out punching not with power, but by volume on his way to a unanimous decision.

 ~ Senior staff writer Edwin Ayala, from Brockton MA., is the right hand man on KO Digest. Experienced as a ringside correspondent, Ayala's "Then & Now" column is but a very small part of his invaluable contribution to the KO Digest.

Mayweather will be 45-0 after beating Alvarez
Jeffrey "KO" Freeman: Floyd Mayweather Jr W12 Canelo Alvarez -- There's really no need to make this complicated. Floyd Mayweather is a better fighter than Canelo Alvarez in nearly every way imaginable. The controversial 152 lb catchweight guarantees that whatever advantages Alvarez might have in size and power are handicapped in favor of the best and most powerful negotiator in the sport. Mayweather's supreme talent, high quality of opposition, and invaluable experience on the big stage will carry him to yet another dominating win over a determined but overmatched opponent. Unless "Money May" gets old overnight on the greatest day of Canelo's young life, it's Mayweather by unanimous decision, 118-110.

Lucas Matthysse KO4 Danny Garcia - Much respect to Danny Garcia and what he's been able to accomplish since upsetting Amir Khan. It's been a great run and with his father Angel Garcia in his corner, good fun. It ends at the feet of Lucas "The Machine" Matthysse, a fighter on a quiet mission to prove that he's the next big thing from Argentina and the best junior welterweight fighter on the planet. Ultimately, Garcia is a slow starter who lacks the defensive boxing skills to do what Alexander and Judah did against the heavy handed Matthysse - avoid getting knocked out. In a one-sided fight made to look easy by the single minded attack of Matthysse, power again prevails in the year of the puncher.  

Jeffrey Freeman is the creator and Editor-in-Chief of KO Digest and a member of the RingTV "Ask the Experts" panel.