By Robert Morales
When a fighter loses his cool in the ring, it rarely works out well for him. Remember Victor Ortiz and what he did when he became frustrated against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in their fight in September 2011? He couldn't land a clean punch, so he shot his head into Mayweather's face like a battering ram and, well, you know the rest.
Others, like "Sugar" Shane Mosley, started well against Mayweather and then appeared to get lulled to sleep by Mayweather's defensive wizardry.
It's probably going to take a fighter with a calm demeanor, one who doesn't easily get flustered, to beat Mayweather. Golden Boy Promotions executives Richard Schaefer and Eric Gomez believe their guy, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, has that.
Neither is actually predicting an Alvarez victory Saturday when he takes on Mayweather in a junior middleweight title fight at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime pay-per-view). But they do believe he has what it takes to pull off the upset.
"This is a different animal," said Gomez, the Golden Boy matchmaker. "This is a kid who has been on the big stage. There's no bigger stage than this, but he's been part of big events and he's not fazed by it. He's got a single-track mind and his goal is winning."
Gomez reminded a reporter than when discussions began for Alvarez's fight last April against Austin Trout, he was against Alvarez fighting the slick left-hander.
Alvarez convinced Gomez he would beat Trout, even told him how he would do it, then went out and did it.
"He made me a believer," Gomez said. "He explains things that I didn't take into account and he went out and proved it. He won. And he's doing the same thing for this fight, bringing things up that maybe you and I don't see.
"He is so calm and so confident. He's got this quiet confidence about him and he's very smart. Very, very mature for his age."
Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy, said that Alvarez's victories over Trout in front of 40,000 at the Alamodome in San Antonio and Mosley in May 2012 at MGM Grand have provided Alvarez, 23, with more reassurance than he already possessed.
"I don't think Floyd Mayweather ever fought in front of 40,000," Schaefer said. "That experience at the Alamodome, for this young man, these experiences all gave him a lot of confidence. How you beat Mayweather is that calm demeanor. If you get frustrated, that's what Mayweather wants. He (Alvarez) needs to be calm, cool, collected inside the ring and out of the ring. That's the key right there.
"He's one determined man. It doesn't matter if a freight train comes straight at him, he will find a way to avoid it and turn it into a positive. I have not met any fighter with that mental strength."
Furthermore, Schaefer could not have been more impressed with the way Alvarez handled the news Tuesday that his ultimate boss - Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya - checked himself back into a rehabilitation clinic for substance abuse. That meant De La Hoya will not be on hand Saturday.
"After the news broke of Oscar having substance abuse issues again and having to go to the rehab clinic on the Monday of fight week, what impressed me was his calmness and how he turned that into a positive as well," Schaefer said. "Now he wants to turn that into a victory for Mexico, as well as for Oscar."
Schaefer is not saying he expects Alvarez to win, only that he is capable of winning.
"There is always a changing of the guard," Schaefer said. "Are we going to see it Saturday night? I don't know."
Talk About Confidence
During a tour stop in Los Angeles, Alvarez said a couple of things that reflected the faith he has in himself.
"He's a very good fighter, he's got a good jab and a good right hand," Alvarez said of Mayweather. "But if you really look at it, that's the only thing he has, that's the only thing he throws. And I'm going to formulate my game plan around that and we'll be able to go forward."
Alvarez also came with a cool answer when asked who has more to lose in this one.
"I don't know who has more to lose, but I can assure you one thing, I'm not going to lose," he said.
Team Golovkin Chimes In
Abel Sanchez isn't so sure that Alvarez's personality - calm though it may be - is going to help him all that much against Mayweather.
"First of all, 'Canelo' has never fought anyone with the patience and the skills of Mayweather," said Sanchez, who trains middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in Big Bear, Calif; Alvarez and Golovkin have sparred several times, so Sanchez knows Alvarez well. "He might have been able to do it with Trout, but Mayweather does little subtle things that keep you on our toes and tire you out and keep you thinking at all times.
"Against a lesser opponent, you are absolutely right. Against Mayweather, he is going to have to work all three minutes because Mayweather is going to make him work. He figures you out the first three or four rounds."
Like Mayweather did against Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero, a fight won handily by Mayweather in May at MGM Grand.
"Once he figured out how to hit (Robert Guerrero) with the right hand, he hit him with the right hand all night long," Sanchez correctly noted. "He (Alvarez) does have size and he does have youth. But if he doesn't use it and make the old man respect him, it's going to be a long night. He's going to have to disrupt Mayweather in the ring, do something to get him out of his game plan."
As for Golovkin, he doled out a brief response regarding this fight at a Los Angeles news conference last week announcing his title defense against Curtis Stevens on Nov. 2 at Madison Square Garden (on HBO).
"I think 'Canelo' has a chance," Golovkin said. "The first couple of rounds, he has a chance."
All the hoopla surrounding the 152-pound catch-weight for Alvarez-Mayweather is interesting because Alvarez himself did not make a big deal out of it during a conference call last week.
"No, not at all; it's not going to bother me at all," he said of having to get down to 152, two pounds less than usual. "I feel good. I feel very, very good. I've been able to make the weight in the past without a problem. In fact, in my most recent fights I've been under on the day of the weigh-in. ... I feel very, very good right now, and, in fact, I think it's going to help me. I'm going to be a lot faster."
Just how big will Alvarez be on fight-night?
Alvarez has been known to gain a good 20 pounds after a weigh-in. He was asked in Los Angeles how much he expects to weigh on Saturday.
"I really don't know, but I'm going to go up as many pounds as necessary, where I feel good and I feel strong - and fast," Alvarez said.
Gomez sad about buddy De La Hoya
The aforementioned Gomez not only works for De La Hoya, he also grew up with De La Hoya in East Los Angeles, so the two are really close. We spoke with Gomez on Tuesday night, hours after De La Hoya released his statement about his second trip to a rehabilitation clinic in two years.
“It's a little hard, it's a little tough," Gomez said via telephone from Las Vegas. "It was something that was very important that, you know, there's nobody that would want to be here more than him. And for him to do this, at this time, it was serious. And all we can do is support him and love him and give him all our support.
Sanchez remembers how it started with Golovkin
It's been about four years since Golovkin came into the life of Sanchez. Sanchez recalls his thoughts when they first met, and what he immediately did in order to get Golovkin to understand where he needed to improve to become the feared fighter he has become.
"Once I started catching him with the mitts and once he started realizing what his qualities were, the most important part was for me to design a style that was going to be conducive to the United States, to the American public," Sanchez said. "The European style, even though they win, we don't like to see that here in the United States.
"HBO doesn't like to see (Guillermo) Rigondeaux, or (Erislandy) Lara or some of those guys, unfortunately. They're great fighters, great technicians, but the public just doesn't want to see that."
Sanchez had an idea about how he could get Golovkin to better understand where he was coming from. He played a tape for Golovkin of the fight between Julio Cesar Chavez and Edwin Rosario won by Chavez by 11th-round TKO in November 1987 at the Las Vegas Hilton.
"I showed him a video of Edwin Rosario and Julio Cesar Chavez to see and I said, 'This is who you're going to be in three years if you give me three years without any questions,' " Sanchez said. "And to his credit, he has never questioned anything. That's how it all started."
Golovkin, 31, is 27-0 with 24 knockouts. He has the highest knockout ratio of any active champion.
"Timing, technique and God gave him the most heavy hands," Sanchez said, explaining Golovkin's thunderous power.
Robert Morales covers boxing for the Los Angeles Daily News and BoxingScene.com.
Tags: Floyd Mayweather Jr. , Saul Alvarez , Oscar De La Hoya , Gennady Golovkin , Mayweather-Canelo , Mayweather vs Canelo