When Canelo Alvarez faced Floyd Mayweather in September 2013, he was just 22 years old.
The RING Magazine middleweight champion proved his best days were still ahead of him. Mayweather dominated the fight, but thanks to the head-scratching 114-114 scorecard of C.J. Ross, he won only a majority decision over the rising Mexican star. The fight was contested at 152 pounds to appease Mayweather.
Canelo was 42-0-1 with 30 knockouts when they met. But until then, just one win came against an elite-level fighter. Canelo’s 12-round win over Austin Trout five months earlier still rates as one of his best, but that was a close fight.
As part of a conference call to hype up his upcoming fight against Rocky Fielding, Sporting News asked Canelo about a rematch with Mayweather.
“I can’t go down further than 160 pounds,” Canelo said. “If that fight were to take place, it would have to be at 160 pounds.”
When contacted by Sporting News, Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe simply responded via text: “LOL Floyd is retired!”
“It’s a ridiculous notion,” Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez said via e-mail. “Floyd is retired, and we respect that. He’s old now, has no business in the ring with Canelo.”
So very clearly we know this rematch will never happen. But let’s look at the fight from a mythical matchup perspective.
Since losing to Mayweather, Canelo has gone 8-0-1. He beat Erislandy Lara in a fight many thought he would lose. He increased his star power in a PPV win over Miguel Cotto. Most recently, he beat Gennady Golovkin in September after earning a controversial draw the previous year. Whatever your thoughts about who won, Canelo went toe-to-toe with boxing’s bogeyman, and there was little to separate the two. In the second fight, Canelo walked down Golovkin to everyone’s surprise.
When Canelo and Mayweather fought in 2013, most places had Mayweather around -300 and Canelo around +250. Sporting News spoke to boxing oddsmaking expert Joey Odessa about what the odds would be for a fight at 160 pounds for a bout sometime in 2019.
“If these two were to meet in the ring again at any weight in 2019, you can expect a record-breaking handle on the fight,” Odessa told Sporting News. “The odds on the fight would be significantly different this time around as Alvarez has become a much more experienced and complete fighter almost five years later."
He added: "If the two fought a year or two after their first meeting, Floyd would still be every bit of a 3-to-1 favorite, and I'm sure they would still have wagered on Canelo. Now not so much. If Mayweather and Alvarez end up fighting in 2019, oddsmakers should anticipate players heavily wagering Canelo, making Canelo the clear favorite. Add in the fight could be at 160 pounds we could easily be looking at Canelo opening up better than a 60-to-40 favorite (-150) and climbing as high as a -200 (2-to-1) favorite when the fight starts.”
Nobody expects Mayweather to climb out of an on-again, off-again retirement for a 160-pound fight against Canelo. Mayweather turns 42 in February and is being offered lucrative fights that are far lower risk. He’s a perfectly round 50-0. He could fight Khabib Nurmagomedov in another circus-level boxing vs. MMA fight.
But how would a fight between Mayweather and Canelo look, were it to happen at 160 pounds sometime in 2019?
“I’m a more complete fighter now,” Alvarez said. “It’ll be much more competitive. I have more experience. I have improved a lot, so it would be different. It was experience who defeated me that night, and that’s why it was a boring fight as well, because he didn’t really do much to me, either. So it was experience. And I have more experience now, and I’m a much more mature fighter. I’m better than the fighter who fought that night.”
Canelo is right — he is a much more complete fighter. The version of Canelo that fought Mayweather would likely have been soundly defeated by Golovkin around that time. Now, he’s in his physical prime at 28 years of age.
Mayweather has fought just once since beating Andre Berto in his farewell fight in 2015 — and that was against Conor McGregor in a ridiculous bout that sold the second most pay-per-views all-time. It’s impossible to use that fight as a measuring stick for where Mayweather’s skills were as a 40-year-old fighter at the time. He carried the MMA star for the first handful of rounds, giving the false sense of competitiveness before making McGregor look silly en route to a 10th-round TKO.
Miguel Cotto is the heaviest opponent Mayweather has ever faced, when the Puerto Rican star weighed 154 pounds for their May 2012 bout. Cotto had moments in that fight where he was able to physically impose himself on Mayweather — and Cotto is a guy who won his first title at 140 pounds.
If Mayweather and Canelo were to meet at 160 pounds, the young Mexican superstar would have a sizable advantage. Canelo is an excellent boxer with lightning quick speed and would be the quicker fighter were the two to fight at this stage.
Though Canelo will never get an opportunity to avenge his only defeat, he doesn’t have to. There’s enough business against true 160 pounders that he’ll be able to cement his legacy without invoking Floyd’s name.
Clearing out the middleweight division as it currently stands could help put him amongst the best Mexican fighters of all-time. There’s still a lot of gas in that tank.