The end of 2013 is supposed to be the cherry atop an already great year for boxing. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, the sport’s two biggest and most recognizable stars, are both slated to participate in a pair of highly-anticipated matches in September and November, respectively. Because the latter is essentially fighting for the right to keep fighting and the former is taking on his first truly legitimate foe in a long time, these fights have noticeably more buzz surrounding them than past ones did.
While most of the attention regarding the aforementioned bouts has centered around what they mean for Mayweather and Pacquiao, it’s worth noting, their opponents actually have far more to gain over the next few months than they do.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, one of boxing’s most notable rising stars and the man who will take on Mayweather next month, is a single, career-defining victory away from being the sport’s top pound-for-pounder. If he loses – no big deal. He’s 23, and he has plenty of time to work his way back up the mountain. If he wins, though, then he took down Goliath.
Similarly, Brandon Rios, the man who Pacquiao is slated to square off against in November, is coming off a loss. And while it was only a decision loss to a guy he previously knocked out, odds makers have installed him as an underdog. Everyone seems to think that his elementary, move-forward-at-all-times style will allow Pacquiao to easily out-point him. They might be right, but what if they aren’t? What better way is there to erase the memory of an irritating decision victory than with a knockout over a legend in the sport?
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Over the next few months, attention will continue to be given to the guys it always seems to be given to. But that doesn’t mean the men they’re fighting are just filler. If Mayweather and Pacquiao don’t bring their A-games, this time next year, we very easily may be talking about Alvarez and Rios much in the same way we currently talk about the guys they’re about to fight.