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Mayweather-Canelo - CompuBox Detailed Analysis

By CompuBox

For the first time since 2007, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is fighting for a second time in a single calendar year. Back then, Mayweather established his pay-per-view star by fighting reigning PPV king Oscar de la Hoya in May, then burnished it by stopping the previously unbeaten Ricky Hatton seven months later.

Since then, the "Money Mayweather" character has made him a mega-millionaire and Manny Pacquiao's back-to-back losses enabled him to become the first man to regain the pound-for-pound throne after having lost it. His critics point to his cherry-picking of opponents in recent years -- too green, too slow, too old, too small -- but the man who will stand opposite Mayweather on Saturday is none of these things. At 23, Saul Alvarez is 13 years younger. With 44 official fights on his record, Alvarez is hardly a greenhorn in boxing and as the owner of two belts at 154, he certainly has the size. One of the major questions surrounding Alvarez, however, is whether his considerable assets are enough to offset Mayweather's Einstein-like boxing IQ and advantages in hand and foot speed.  Money's a 12-5 favorite (as of 9/3/13).

Is Saul Alvarez "the one" to finally take away Mayweather's prized zero in the loss column? Will he earn his 45th victory while denying Mayweather his 45th win? Or will Alvarez become just another line on Mayweather's Hall of Fame resume? Only time -- and the ring -- will tell.

Statistical factors, as compiled by CompuBox, that determine the outcome include:

A Tale of Two Weight Classes: In this era of day-before weigh-ins, fighters may share a weight class for a few moments but by the time they enter the ring the gap in weight could be massive. This may well be the case Saturday night because in his last 11 fights, Alvarez has been re-weighed seven times and every time "Canelo" gained more than 10 pounds.  That, plus the contracted catch-weight for Money vs. Canelo is 152 lbs.

Alvarez vs. Trout -- 153 1/2 weigh in, 172 fight night -- 18 1/2 pounds gained (4 1/4 lbs more than previous high)
Alvarez vs. Lopez -- 154 weigh in, 164 fight night -- 10 pounds gained
Alvarez vs. Mosley -- 154 weigh in, 167 fight night -- 13 pounds gained
Alvarez vs. Gomez -- 153 3/4 weigh in, 168 fight night -- 14 1/4 pounds gained
Alvarez vs. Hatton -- 151 3/4 weigh in, 165 fight night -- 13 1/4 pounds gained
Alvarez vs. Baldomir -- 150 1/2 weigh in, 163 fight night -- 12 1/2 pounds gained
Alvarez vs. Jose Miguel Cotto -- 150 weigh in, 160 fight night -- 10 pounds gained

This means that in his last seven weigh-ins, Alvarez gained an average of 13.1 pounds between the weigh-in and fight night, which means that Alvarez may likely scale in the high-160s when he takes his first steps toward Mayweather.

Mayweather, on the other hand, has submitted to a fight-night weigh-in only once in his last seven fights. Before he faced Victor Ortiz in September 2011, Mayweather re-hydrated from 146 1/2 to 150 -- a mere three-and-a-half pound gain. This may be a reflection of Mayweather's exquisite conditioning as well as his wisdom of fighting near his natural weight. It may result in Mayweather owning an even more pronounced speed advantage but it could also place "Money" at a massive -- or perhaps decisive -- physical disadvantage.

Minute-by-Minute Momentum: One of the major criticisms of Alvarez following the Trout victory was his propensity to fight in peaks and valleys. The peaks were wondrous (the highlight being a seventh round knockdown) but there were also long stretches of relative inactivity.

To examine this charge, CompuBox delved deeper into the numbers than customary by noting not only the volume in given rounds but also the minute-by-minute activity within the rounds.

First, the round-by-round data: Alvarez began the fight by going 3 of 22 -- his lowest output of the bout -- and mired himself in the 30s in per-round output in every round until the seventh, the knockdown round, when he unleashed 49. He then dipped to 28 in the eighth and threw 42 and 32 before reaching his peak of 54 in round 11. Under normal circumstances, a belief that the fight was close entering the final round would push a fighter to go all out in the 12th, but because of the WBC's "open scoring" system, Alvarez, secure he was going to win a decision, throttled down to 29 punches in the 12th to Trout's fight-high 77.

The verdict defied conventional wisdom, for while Alvarez won a fairly decisive decision (115-112, 116-111 and a ridiculous 118-109), Alvarez actually trailed on the CompuBox stats as he was out-landed 154-124 overall and 59-28 in jabs but prevailed 96-95 in power connects. However, the knockdown in round seven combined with his decisive lead in power connect percentage (43%-27%) enabled Alvarez to overcome a massive deficit in activity (35.9 per round to Trout's 64.1).

The minute-by-minute data confirmed Alvarez's slow-starting tendencies. In rounds one, three and eight, Alvarez failed to land a single punch in the first 60 seconds and in all, only 22.6% of his total connects in the fight occurred during the first minute. Meanwhile, Alvarez achieved 34.7% of his total connects in the second minute and 42.7% of them in the final minute. This trend extended to his power numbers, for Alvarez scored 24% of his connects in the first minute, 33.3% of them in the second minute and 42.7% of them in the final minute.

In stopping Josesito Lopez seven months earlier, however, Alvarez's minute-by-minute numbers were much more balanced. There he achieved 31.4% of his total connects in the first minute, 32.9% in minute two and 35.7% in minute three. As for his power connects, Alvarez amassed 27.9% in minute one, 37.5% in minute two and 34.6% in minute three.

When one throws in the minute-by-minute numbers achieved in the Shane Mosley fight (17.8%, 44.8% and 37.4% in total connects; 14.7%, 46% and 39.3% in power connects), the three-fight averages reveal that 21.9% of Alvarez's total connects were achieved in the first minute while 78.1% of them were posted in the final two minutes -- confirming Alvarez's tendency to ease into rounds and mete out the real damage later on.   In fact, in his last seven fights, Alvarez averaged just 49 punches thrown- that's 9 less than the jr. middleweight avg.  He landed 20 per round,  two more than the 154-lb avg.  In his last 10 fights (at 146-lbs or higher), Money landed 17 of 41 punches per round.  That's a edge of just eight more punches thrown per round for Canelo, who figures to have trouble cutting off the ring vs. Floyd.  True, Canelo matched Floyd in total punches landed per round and landed five more power shots per round.  However, Canelo did so against much softer opposition.  

"The Mayweather Effect": Like Bernard Hopkins, Mayweather's biggest weapon may be his ability to hypnotize opponents into inactivity. Consider the massive drop-offs in activity and accuracy Mayweather's foes experienced:

Robert Guerrero vs. Berto, Aydin and Katsidis: 72 punches per round, 36.3% overall accuracy, 46.1% power precision.

Robert Guerrero vs. Mayweather: 48.4 punches per round, 19.4% overall accuracy, 27.9% power precision -- a 32.8% reduction in activity, a 16.9 percentage-point plunge in overall accuracy and a 29.2 percentage-point drop in power shot effectiveness. When translated to comparative percentages, Guerrero was 46.6% less effective overall and 39.5% less effective on his power shots.

Robert Guerrero vs. Berto, Aydin and Katsidis: 72 punches per round, 36.3% overall accuracy, 46.1% power precision.

Robert Guerrero vs. Mayweather: 48.4 punches per round, 19.4% overall accuracy, 27.9% power precision -- a 32.8% reduction in activity, a 16.9 percentage-point plunge in overall accuracy and a 29.2 percentage-point drop in power shot effectiveness. When translated to comparative percentages, Guerrero was 46.6% less effective overall and 39.5% less effective on his power shots.

Miguel Cotto vs. Foreman, Mayorga and Margarito II: 45.9 punches per round, 38.7% overall accuracy, 44.7% power precision.

Miguel Cotto vs. Mayweather: 42.2 punches per round, 20.8% overall accuracy, 22.8% power precision -- a 9.1% reduction in activity, a 17.9 percentage-point decline in overall connect percentage and a 26.8 percentage point drop in power connects. The comparative percentage drops were 46.3% overall and 49% power.

Victor Ortiz vs. Berto, Peterson and Harris: 49.8 punches per round, 32.5% overall accuracy, 40.3% power precision.

Victor Ortiz vs. Mayweather: 37 punches per round, 17.6% overall accuracy, 22.2% power precision -- a 25.8% reduction in per-round volume and drops of 14.9 percentage points overall and 18.1 percentage points in power accuracy. The comparative percentage drops were 45.9% overall and 45% power.

When your boxing acumen can force opponents to experience an offensive drop-off of nearly 50%, you are -- barring a one-punch thunderbolt out of the blue -- going to win every fight. And so far Mayweather has.

CompuBox Plus/Minus-*:  Money leads all current championship caliber fighters with a plus/minus of +24.  In his last 10 fights, Floyd landed 41% of his total punches- opponents landed 17%.  Second on the list, Canelo.  In his last 7 fights, Alvarez landed
42% of his total punches, while opponents landed 24%--making Canelo a +18.  Canelo landed 64% of his power punches vs. the overmatched and undersized Jose Lopez to bolster that 42% overall connect pct.  

Prediction: It can be said Mayweather is taking a risk by fighting Alvarez. But in a way he's taking a calculated risk, for if he waited until the end of his potentially six-fight deal with Showtime, Mayweather would have been a 38-year-old fighting a 25-year-old Alvarez in his physical prime. So by fighting him now, Mayweather maximizes his chances of victory.

And win he will. The great ones muster up their greatest efforts when the stakes are at their highest. Alvarez's expected weight gain could be be an albatross instead of an advantage, for Mayweather proved in his last fight against Guerrero that his legs remain springy and thus are able to box rings around slower opponents.

If Alvarez chooses to stand at range and engage in a thinking man's match, the fight is all but over, for Mayweather will out-smart everyone. Instead, he should adopt the fight plan Jose Luis Castillo used in his first fight with Mayweather -- the only bout in 36 CompuBox-tracked fights in which Mayweather was out-landed: Pressure, pressure and more pressure. Unlike Guerrero, Alvarez has the brute strength to pin Mayweather on the ropes. The definitive question is whether Alvarez can generate the consistent volume necessary to carry out that plan from first bell to last. The guess here is no. While Alvarez may well be the best combination puncher in boxing, he hasn't proven himself capable of sustaining it, and that will be his downfall.

In a competitive and sometimes captivating fight, Mayweather will figure Alvarez out by the middle rounds and sail to a unanimous decision victory.

*-plus/minus determined by subtracting opponents total punch connect pct. from featured fighters total punch connect pct., which includes jab connect pct. and power punch connect pct.

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