By Cliff Rold
Both big winners on Saturday entered with belts around their waist. They left etching new places for their names in history.
With the lineage of the crowns at 140 and 154 lbs. up for grabs, Danny Garcia and Floyd Mayweather made clear who the champions of their respective classes are. Are they now headed towards each other?
Let’s go the report cards.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Mayweather A-; Alvarez B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Mayweather B+; Alvarez A/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Mayweather A; Alvarez B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Mayweather A; Alvarez A/Post: A; B
Pre-Fight: Speed – Garcia B+; Matthysse B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Garcia B+; Matthysse A/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Garcia B; Matthysse B/Post: B+; C+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Garcia A; Matthysse B+/Post: Same
Beginning with the chief support bout for the mega-money main event, Danny Garcia silenced critics and doubters in a huge way. Lucas Matthysse had built a reputation as the most fearsome force at Jr. Welterweight. His debated decision losses to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander engendered him to fight fans. His walk through of Lamont Peterson earlier this year had many ready to crown him king.
Danny Garcia was having none of that.
In a performance that spoke to the same mental toughness and technical discipline that got Garcia past Amir Khan, he took the best Matthysse had to offer. Then he went to work. It was a hotly contested bout from start to finish but over the second half it was Garcia who pulled away. He closed the right eye of Matthysse, scored an awkward knockdown, and had his hand raised.
There is little doubt: Danny Garcia is the king at 140. His reign has history’s champion is likely to be short. A move to Welterweight beckons.
Will it be to face Mayweather? The chances are good. Speculation persists that Khan may get a crack first, but Mayweather has plans beyond just next May if that turns out to be the case. In the meantime, Garcia against the winner of Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana is a fight that could keep the appetite whetted, couldn’t it?
For Matthysse it’s back to the drawing board but he’s hardly done. A rematch with Garcia down the road could be sellable and he would still likely be a favorite over anyone at 140. Titles could still be in the Argentine’s future. A national grudge match with Maidana someday could also still be big for Matthysse.
And what of Mayweather? Will it really be Khan? Garcia? The now lineal king at 154 has options and the world is truly his oyster. After tying Manny Pacquiao as only the second man to win lineal crowns in four weight divisions, wouldn’t it be better to see Mayweather go for five?
Sergio Martinez may or may not be obligated to HBO for the foreseeable future. Attempts to clarify that situation didn’t bear fruit but we know this much: Martinez has always claimed able to make a catchweight for a Mayweather showdown. He looked vulnerable against the tough but ordinary Martin Murray his last out. He’s recovering from another injury induced long layoff.
Mayweather is a man looking for challenges and fights that could sell. Challenging for the true Middleweight championship would do both. Martinez, as one half of a hugely profitable showdown with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., has shown he brings value as a B-side.
Look, being honest, there could be business obstacle before a fight could even be pondered. But that, more than other fight, is the one worth pondering for Mayweather. In its absence, fights like Garcia would be great.
Mayweather-Martinez, the reigning lineal Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight champion versus the reigning Middleweight champion...that’s just better.
And Mayweather couldn’t have been much better this past weekend. He put on a clinic against Alvarez, punctuated by a moment in the eleventh when he made Alvarez hit the ropes and then stepped aside to look outside the ring and wonder what it was Alvarez was swinging at.
Mayweather wasn’t just defensive either. His offense was potent. The jab was superb and the right hand and uppercut flummoxed a younger man who, coming off the Austin Trout win, was as ready as he was ever going to be. It was a gem right up there with his wins over Ricky Hatton and Juan Manuel Marquez, if still a hair off his enduring masterpiece against Diego Corrales.
As to Alvarez, he remains a big star and just fell short against a master. He’s still live with anyone else at 154 and could mix soon at 160 as well. It just wasn’t his night.
For 15 years of world title fights, it hasn’t been anyone’s night against Floyd Mayweather.
Report Card Picks 2013: 36-21
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]