Mayweather blows hype and Álvarez out of his way in Las Vegas
American improves his record to 45-0 with points win over Mexican
Mexico’s Saúl Álvarez takes a punch from Floyd Mayweather Jr of the US during their WBC/WBA title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Photograph: Steve Marcus/Reuters
It was billed as one of the biggest fights in boxing history, with the promoters promising to break pay-per-view and revenue records. It was touted as perhaps the best chance to blemish Floyd Mayweather Jr’s unrivaled sprint through the sport.
But from the time Mayweather threw a punch against Saúl Álvarez on Saturday night in Las Vegas, it was clear that the competition would not match the hype.
Mayweather danced, dodged and repeatedly snapped Álvarez’s head and spirit to its breaking point, as he easily improved his record to 45-0 with a majority decision victory. By the time the sweat was wiped from Álvarez’s reddened face, the only question that remained was whether there was truly anyone in the sport who could give Mayweather a challenge worthy of the hoopla.
Although Álvarez, who lost for the first time in 44 professional fights, was the bigger fighter, he withered under the bright lights and was backpedaling for much of the fight. He began stalking forward only after the result was no longer in doubt. But even then, he was greeted by flashes of Mayweather’s electric blue gloves at every turn.
The only surprise was that one of the judges, CJ Ross, scored the bout even at 114-114. Mayweather won easily on the other two cards.
Even before throwing a single punch on Saturday night, Mayweather already had flexed his dominance as the sport’s premier attraction and hype man. Together with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, Mayweather and his team turned this bout into one of the biggest boxing events in recent memory – so much so that it seemed hard to imagine that the public ever yearned for a Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao superfight.
This fight sold out within 24 hours, with the cheapest tickets selling for €260. As of Saturday night, the asking price for the most expensive tickets was more than €10,000. On Friday, the MGM Grand Garden Arena was packed for the weigh-in as the fighters made long, elaborate walks to the scale with music bumping, akin to their fight night ring walks. (Álvarez weighed in at the 152-pound limit, while Mayweather was at 150½.)
Many boxing observers said the event was shaping up to be even bigger than the Mayweather-De La Hoya match-up. Álvarez, 23, is not nearly as accomplished as De La Hoya was when he fought Mayweather, but he presented an intriguing match-up for the potential he possesses.
Although Mayweather has made arrogance an art form, even he has agreed that the fight offered some mystery.
“He’s a good, strong, solid boxer, and I mean it’s a very intriguing match-up,” he said before the fight.
Álvarez’s youth and power stoked the hope among his supporters that he could catch the 36-year-old Mayweather with a heavy punch and tarnish his unblemished record. He has the good looks and charisma to make him a marketable figure, especially among the fans in his home country, Mexico, similar to his mentor and promoter, De La Hoya. He also brought into the fight an unbeaten record, with 42 victories and one draw.