Can Alvarez take the money?

12 September 2013 - 03:25 By David Isaacson

Saul Alvarez might as well throw in the towel now, take a ringside seat and watch Floyd Mayweather shadow-box all by himself this weekend.

It'll make no difference whether the ginger Mexican is inside or outside the ring on Sunday morning (SA time), according to most of the boxing pundits to whom I have spoken.

Mayweather, undefeated in 44 fights, is widely regarded as invincible - irrespective of his opponent.

Hercules might have been able to tame Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the gates of the underworld, but if he had taken on Mayweather for an unlucky 13th task, his legendary bubble would have popped.

The future king David, given a choice of battling Goliath or Mayweather, would surely choose the Philistine every time (I mean the ancient guy, as opposed to the woman-abusing ex-con who crassly changed his ring name to Money).

Boxing fans love unbeatable fighters; those super-humans who do the impossible.

The sport is littered with them.

Think of Mike Tyson (until he ran into Buster Douglas), Marvin Hagler (until that controversial split-decision loss against Sugar Ray Leonard), Sonny Liston and George Foreman (until they faced Muhammad Ali), and Jack Dempsey (until he met Gene Tunney).

As massively talented as Mayweather is - and I must admit here that I have been guilty of underestimating him on occasion - I do not rate him as the greatest fighter of my time, let alone all time.

In my mind - or is it my dreams? - Mayweather gets torn apart by Roberto Duran at lightweight, and picked apart by Tommy Hearns at welterweight. And I doubt he would have tap-danced over Leonard either.

Oscar de la Hoya, who was never in the class of Leonard, Hearns and Duran, was already past his best when he lost by split decision to Mayweather. Some felt he should have won, I thought it was a draw - the point is, it was close.

And Mayweather, like De la Hoya, did conveniently steer clear of junior-welterweight king Kostya Tszyu, a savage puncher in his heyday.

Perhaps it's because I like to find fault with Mayweather that I give Alvarez a chance - as long as he uses the right strategy, which, according to the old cliché, will be to fight fire with fire.

In other words, you don't try to counter-punch Tyson, you bully him.

Likewise, you counter a counter-puncher: that's what Marco Antonio Barrera did when he faced Naseem Hamed, as did Leonard against Wilfred Benitez.

Alvarez, nicknamed Canelo, which is Spanish for cinnamon, is capable of executing the proper game plan and is tough enough to soak up the mistakes he is sure to make.

But my biggest case for a Mayweather loss is his age.

At 36, Mayweather's clock is running out.

He is heavily dependent on his amazing reaction speed for his success, and the moment he slows down - even marginally - he will rudely discover the meaning of mortality.

Alvarez at 23 is younger, stronger and probably hungrier to put the possible into impossible.

And if Alvarez - with 42 victories and a draw - does pull it off, he will likely become the newest member of boxing's invincibles.