Can he succeed where so many other superb boxers have failed? Can he not only be the first fighter to defeat Mayweather, but also the first of Mexican descent? Mayweather’s Mexican foes include such notables as Jose Luis Castillo, Juan Manuel Marquez, Jesus Chavez, Genaro Hernandez and Oscar De La Hoya.
De La Hoya thinks so. De La Hoya lost a split 12-round decision to Mayweather in a record-setting pay-per-view event in 2007. One judge scored it as a victory for De La Hoya. That is as close as anyone has come to dethroning Mayweather in the last decade.
"For one thing, youth is on his side," De La Hoya said of the 23-year-old Canelo, who hails from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. "But the real advantage will be the intelligence. People will also be surprised with his speed."
Canelo, a redhead with matinee idol looks, is the No. 1 boxing attraction in Mexico. He is on the cusp of joining the same club as Mexican boxing legends like Carlos Zarate, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales. A victory over Mayweather would cement his legacy as one of the all-time greats in Mexican boxing history.
Canelo said he started watching Mayweather in his fights with Jose Luis Castillo and Diego Corrales in 2001 and 2002. He really took notice when Mayweather fought De La Hoya in 2007.
Who was he rooting for in that match?
"Oscar, of course,’’ he said with a laugh.
Canelo now has De La Hoya as his mentor. He said he will lean on De La Hoya to get information on what makes Mayweather uncomfortable in the ring. De La Hoya, who had a good strategy against Mayweather, said he will keep repeating three letters to Canelo - J-A-B. It was something De La Hoya couldn’t do consistently because he had a torn left rotator cuff in their fight in 2007.
Canelo won’t be coming in with any such aliments, and if he follows De La Hoya’s advice, he could turn the tables on Mayweather. Plus, Canelo doesn’t believe that he’s too inexperienced for Mayweather at this time.
"I’m very young, but I’m experienced as well," said Canelo, who has fought in 43 fights (42-0-1 with 30 KO’s). "I’ve been learning the last couple of years. The position that I’m in right now, Mayweather was once in [when Mayweather was learning and growing as a fighter]."
Mayweather has conquered every boxer of Mexican heritage that has been put in front of him. Jesus Chavez, who was 29 at the time that Mayweather upended him for the WBC junior lightweight title, and Castillo, who was 28 when Mayweather twice defeated him for the WBC lightweight title.
Mayweather also defeated Genaro Hernandez for the WBC junior lightweight title; Hernandez retired from boxing after the loss. Mayweather fought Juan Manuel Marquez and dominated him en route to a 12-round decision. He also edged De La Hoya for the WBC 154-pound title, while breaking the pay-per-view record in the history of the sport.
But none of Mayweather’s earlier opponents had the youth, punching power and granite chin that Canelo possesses. Plus, Canelo is naturally bigger than Mayweather and could enter the ring with a 20-pound weight advantage.
Mayweather, who typically campaigns at 147 pounds, chose the bigger Canelo and will fight him at a catch weight of 152 pounds for the second fight in his new contract with SHOWTIME Networks, Inc., and its parent company, CBS Corporation. It certainly makes for an intriguing match, and anything but a gimme for "Money."
Canelo said he has visualized how he will fight Mayweather, but he knows that whatever his plan is, it must have flexibility.
"Floyd is a different kind of fighter and this is a different kind of fight," Canelo said. "For every fight there’s a game plan. But that game plan can go out the window in the first round. So you have to have a Plan B and a Plan C. And that is what we’ll work on."
The conventional wisdom is that Canelo is too inexperienced to defeat the ring-savvy Mayweather, but Canelo points out that he has been fighting professionally since he was 15 years old and most of those 43 fights on his resume (42-0-1, 30 KO’s) were not against low caliber fighters. He has triumphed impressively against former undisputed welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir, future Hall of Famer Shane Mosley, Matthew Hatton, Kermit Cintron and former WBA junior middleweight champion Austin Trout.
Canelo put on a dazzling boxing display against Trout, who was coming off a shocking upset over Miguel Cotto. It was the type of victory that made Mayweather take notice. It also stamped Canelo as more than ready to seriously challenge Mayweather.
"I’m fighting the best. This is my chance to beat the best,’’ Canelo said. "It’s a chance to go down in history as the first guy to beat Floyd Mayweather."
"THE ONE: MAYWEATHER VS. CANELO," a 12-round fight for Canelo’s WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine Super Welterweight World Championships and Mayweather’s WBA Super Welterweight Super World Championship taking place Saturday, Sept. 14 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, is promoted by Mayweather Promotions, Golden Boy Promotions and Canelo Promotions and sponsored by Corona, O’Reilly Auto Parts, AT&T, Valvoline, Mexico Tourism, Fred Loya Insurance and Nature Nutrition. In the 12-round co-featured attraction, WBC, WBA Super and Ring Magazine Super Lightweight World Champion Danny Garcia and thunderous puncher WBC Interim Super Lightweight World Champion Lucas Matthysse square off in a fight presented in association with Swift Promotions and Arano Box Promotions. Also, Ishe Smith vs. Carlos Molina square off in a 12-round battle for Smith’s IBF Junior Middleweight World Title which is promoted in association with Warriors Boxing. The opening bout on SHOWTIME PPV features a 10-round welterweight showdown between Pablo Cesar Cano and Ashley Theophane. The mega-event will be produced and distributed live by SHOWTIME PPV® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT. The event can be heard in Spanish using secondary audio programming (SAP).
Less than 24 hours after going on sale on June 25, the event was sold out, but six MGM Resorts properties will host live closed circuit telecasts of "THE ONE." Properties showcasing the event include ARIA, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Monte Carlo and New York-New York. General admission tickets for the closed circuit telecasts are priced at $100, not including handling fees, and are available for purchase at each individual property’s box office outlets and also are available for purchase by phone with a major credit card at 866-799-7711. Closed circuit ticket sales are limited to eight (8) per person. Tickets also are available through Ticketmaster by calling (800) 745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com. "THE ONE" will also be broadcast on nearly 550 select movie theaters across the country. Tickets are available at participating theater box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com.