The drawing power of wanting to see Floyd Mayweather Jr. beaten accounts for an unspecified but heavy amount of his pay-per-view buys.
Proof came in September 2013, when the fan favorite of boxing’s populous Latino audience, Mexico’s then-unbeaten Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, was matched against Mayweather in a fight that established a record $150 million in pay-per-view sales.
Mayweather’s professional performance over the young, out-schooled Alvarez ranks as the unbeaten fighter’s third greatest fight.
Alvarez elevated his record to 42-0-1 with 30 knockouts and boosted his importance by drawing more than 40,000 fans to the Alamodome in San Antonio in April 2013 against a fellow light-middleweight world champion Austin Trout.
Trout was coming off an impressive victory over Miguel Cotto, and Alvarez was seeking to show he could handle a tactical, defensive-minded fighter. He did, knocking Trout down en route to a unanimous-decision victory.
While training in Big Bear, Alvarez was so confident, he said of Mayweather, “I’ve figured him out. I can’t wait to get up in the ring.”
Alvarez promoter and Mayweather rival Oscar De La Hoya spent several days traveling with Alvarez on a national media tour, advising Alvarez how to correct the flaws De La Hoya said he believed cost him in a 2007 split-decision loss to Mayweather.
“He knows what he has to do," De La Hoya said. "The thing he does better than me is he relaxes in the ring. It comes natural to him to relax up in there and that's a big thing. People are banking on Canelo to get tired because of his last performances. They think he's a flat-footed fighter, nothing more than a charging bull. They'll see the opposite."
Alvarez said he believed by training in Big Bear his conditioning would allow him to swarm Mayweather and land heavy punches on the elusive fighter.
“Even though I might be young, I'm ready," Alvarez said. "That's why I asked for the fight."
The masses ate it up.
Canelo could possibly accomplish what so many other great Mexican fighters had failed to do.
Mayweather’s list of beaten foes with Mexican bloodlines was a national insult: retiring Genaro Hernandez on his stool, beating Jose Luis Castillo twice, five knockdowns of Diego Corrales … with Carlos Hernandez, Juan Manuel Marquez and De La Hoya to boot.
Mayweather inflamed the massive fan base by wearing a sombrero and the colors of Mexico’s flag into the ring against De La Hoya.
Yet, while a passionate segment hoped for an upset, there was something telling in how quickly Mayweather jumped at the chance to fight Alvarez – the bout coming just more than four months after he dominated Robert Guerrero by unanimous decision.
In preparation for the bout, Mayweather admitted he’s such a control freak he has borderline obsessive-compulsive disorder.
“Building my career took time," he said. "I made the right moves. I didn't rush. Once the right fight presented itself, we took advantage of it. That's what it's about. It's about communication, having the right people in the right place at the right time. Everything in life is about timing.”
Alvarez would be the latest example.
Despite the talk, Canelo was too slow to deal with Mayweather.
Times sports columnist Bill Dwyre wrote, “Floyd Mayweather Jr. put on another boxing clinic here Saturday night. The student was a young Mexican redhead named Saul Alvarez. Or Canelo, which means cinnamon. Mayweather’s sweet science has never been sweeter.”
While judge C.J. Ross scored the bout even on her way out of the sport, everyone else had it as a Mayweather landslide.
In front of a largely pro-Alvarez crowd, Mayweather’s speed ruled the early portion of the fight. He shrugged off a low blow by belting Alvarez twice in the fourth.
Dwyre wrote, “By the seventh, Mayweather was in complete control. He was on Floyd cruise, darting in at will, connecting on four or five jabs at a time. At one point, he had Alvarez in the corner for 30 seconds and just slapped away, mostly at will.”
Mayweather whipped Alvarez in the face with a jab in the 11th and clearly outclassed the youngster, dancing away from the frustrated fighter in the final seconds, again disappointing a good portion of the 2.2 million pay-per-view purchasers.
“Very elusive, intelligent, I honestly couldn’t find him,” Alvarez said afterward. “I’m only 23, I’ll be back.”