If boxing history was written by Hollywood writers, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao would have fought two times by now. That way, heading into Dec. 2013, instead of seeing the latter fighting a guy coming off a loss and the former taking on a young star who has yet to be tested, we’d be getting the final chapter of an epic trilogy.
Alas, boxing history is not written by Hollywood writers. It’s written by greedy promoters, stupid advisors and egotistical fighters.
Because of that, the best we can hope for now is that Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, who is all of 23 years old and has 1.5 big wins under his belt, steps up. Not steps up in the sense that he puts on a good show in defeat – steps up in the way that Pacquiao was expected to a few years ago when he was still in his prime.
Once upon a time, Pacquiao was viewed as the guy who would change the ‘0’ on Mayweather’s record into ‘1’. Sure, maybe not by the odds makers who consistently had Mayweather as a favorite in that super fight – but by the fans. Now, with the Filipino star coming off two straight losses and heading into a potentially career-ending bout against Brandon Rios, that dream fight is a distant memory.
The onus is now on Alvarez to step into Pacquiao’s shoes – to play the spoiler to Mayweather’s greatness. Will he be able to do it? He seems to think so. He relishes the challenge.
"I'm a strong-minded fighter," Alvarez told Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports. "I'm not going to fight the fight he wants me to do. I will fight the fight I need to fight to win."
Easier said than done. This isn’t Austin Trout he’s talking about. Many a fighters have pledged to make Mayweather fight their way, on their terms. Nobody has really done it, though. Guys have stolen rounds, sure, but never entire fights. And as we saw against Robert Guerrero, with Floyd Sr. in his corner, Mayweather is unflappable mentally. Whereas he got suckered into exchanges with Miguel Cotto, he stayed true to his plan in that last bout. That’s all Floyd Sr. right there.
At the end of the day, can Alvarez be the anti-Mayweather that boxing desperately needs him to be? It’s impossible to say for certain. We’ll all find out together this September.