Floyd “Money” Mayweather, the crafty veteran and best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, gave his young opponent from Mexico, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, a lesson in the art of boxing Saturday night at the MGM Grand.
Mayweather, 36, wearing metallic blue gloves and blue and silver snakeskin trunks, got stronger and more accurate as the fight wore on, picking his 23-year-old opponent apart en route to winning a majority decision and the unified super welterweight titles before a sold-out, raucous crowd loaded with celebrities. The loss was the first of Alvarez’s career, dropping it to 42-1-1, with 30 KOs.
Judge CJ Ross, who scored the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight for Bradley, scored it 114-114. The other judges scored it 117-111 and 116-112 for Mayweather.
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 of Alvarez’s punches. By the seventh round, it was apparent that Alvarez was getting frustrated by his inability to get to Mayweather.
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”.
By the 10th round Alvarez appeared worn out from chasing Mayweather around the ring, fighting with his mouth open, a sign of fatigue.
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.
Both Mayweather and Richard Schaefer have said that the fighter, given PPV sales of 3 million or more, could walk away with $100 million, though that is unlikely. Mayweather, as good a self-promoter as he is a boxer, also has revenue coming in from sales from his TMT (The Money Team) brand. The stands around the MGM Grand selling his apparel have had long lines of people looking to buy throughout the week.
Alvarez, 23, is guaranteed $5 million but is expected to get additional money from Mexican television contracts, which could push his earnings past the $12 million mark. The Mexican with the distinctive shock of red hair weighed in Friday at 152 pounds, which is the catchweight for the super welterweight title fight, normally contested at a limit of 154 pounds.
The catchweight caused hard feelings between the fighters in the days leading up to the fight, especially Alvarez, who admitted earlier this week that Mayweather’s camp forced him to drop two pounds to get the fight made. Alvarez said Mayweather’s team made it sound like it was Alvarez’s idea.
When the fighters had their stare-down moment after the weigh-in (Mayweather came in at 150.5 pounds), Alvarez refused to hold one of the belts with Mayweather, saying, “I’m not going to do what he tells me to do.”
As of a few hours before the bout, Mayweather was at about -260, which is about a 5-2 favorite.