Few events bring out the elegance and glamour of old school Las Vegas like a highly anticipated prize fight in boxing.
Add two of the sport’s biggest draws and arguably the greatest fighter of all time in Floyd Mayweather Jr. (45-0, 26 KO’s), and the MGM Grand had the perfect storm for one of the grandest evening’s since they opened their doors.
I have had the privilege of being present for many of the so called mega-fights hosted by the boxing capital of the world Las Vegas, and rest assured, this past Saturday night’s main event between “Money” Mayweather and “Canelo” Alvarez (42-1, 30 KO’s) ranks right up there with Holyfield vs. Tyson and Mayweather vs. De La Hoya just to name a few, when it comes to atmosphere.
In fact, the entire week leading up to “The One” was absolutely electric and come fight night the A-list celebrities and athletes, invited VIP guests, whales, and of course the casual fan, came out in droves to be a part of it all.
We knew going in the MGM Grand Garden Arena had been completely sold out in record time, and casino hosts all around Las Vegas and properties around the globe were trying frantically to get their hands on some tickets to accommodate their clients.
Many reported even their most prestigious guests were willing to pay for seats, knowing comp tickets were saved for only the biggest of players who already had a history for putting in long hours at very high average hands when they hit the table games.
I can promise you from being around the Las Vegas Strip throughout last week that the table limits provided the perfect example of the type of weekend we could expect…come Monday morning, I don’t believe anyone was disappointed with the result.
Except maybe those fight fans and bettors who backed the underdog, and of course Team Alvarez.
When all the dust had settled, though judge CJ Roth had scored the fight a draw, it was obvious everyone else in attendance had little doubt as to who won. It was simply another masterful performance by the No. 1 pound for pound boxer on the planet, Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr., who added win number 45 to his unblemished record after proving once again an extraordinary fighter will almost always beat even the most determined opponent when outclassed.
And as impressed as I was by the way “Canelo” handled the biggest of stages at only 23 years of age, when all was said and done, it was clear once more that even at 36, few opponents even possess the skills to threaten Mayweather’s reign as king of boxing, let alone dethrone him.
Only a few months had passed since Mayweather had made a former multiple world champion in Robert Guerrero, who had lost only once prior, look completely out of his league by pitching a shutout. Then Saturday, against an opponent being hailed as the greatest threat to Mayweather yet, and supported by the betting line which reflected the closest odds in over 6 years (vs De La Hoya), the world’s No. 1 showcased his dominance.
Mayweather left no doubt he is in an entirely different class when it comes to his craft. He has repeated many times over the years that the sport of boxing is all about “hit and not get hit.” Floyd is both the top rated boxer in connect percentage and defense in the CompuBox rankings.
His technical advantages are leaps and bounds beyond anything we’ve seen in the sport at least in my generation, and to still be able to totally outbox opponents who are younger, stronger, and maybe even quicker, is a testament to as Floyd would say “hard work and dedication.”
Finally, though “Canelo” appeared to never be in danger of being stopped throughout the course of the 12 round bout, he was never able to land any significant punch or hit Mayweather flush, something he had done so easily in previous fights.
Alvarez was an opponent who most in the sport would refer to as “elite.” It just goes to show the elusiveness, defense, and ring IQ opponents will be forced to deal with when facing Mayweather. Add to that an offense that wastes no punches, is deadly accurate, and systematically breaks you down, and rest assured the Mayweather puzzle is extremely difficult to figure out.
Looking at possible future opponents, none come to mind immediately that make me think I won’t be betting on Mayweather every time I’m at a sports book leading up to the fight, like I had done for months leading up to “The One.”
The co-main event produced plenty of fireworks as again Philly’s own Danny Garcia (27-0, 16 KO’s) surprised both fans and bettors alike with his unanimous decision victory against Lucas Matthysse (34-3-0-1, 32 KO’s).
What’s most shocking besides being the first opponent to actually drop the always durable Argentinian, is that Garcia was able to take his biggest punches and almost walk right through them.
It was no secret Matthyesse was expected to be the bigger puncher in the ring on Saturday, his 32 wins via KO/TKO support that, but Garcia was able to negate that power just like he said he would, by being the better boxer and even possessing the sturdier chin.
We had already witnessed Garcia cash bet tickets as an underdog before, but this time around he seemed even more disrespected since he entered the ring with the WBC, WBA (Super), and Ring Magazine Light Welterweight straps.
And like he had done in the past, the world’s best 140 lb. fighter embraced the role of underdog and proved once more that he’s not just all heart. His impressive and extensive amateur career prepared him will to box his way out of harms way when necessary, and he appears to be improving with every fight.
At just 25, the sky’s the limit for this young man and I am very confident he’s on his way up to 147 lbs. sooner rather than later, and may just get his shot at undoubtedly the biggest payday of his career, against “The Money Team.”
Wouldn’t that be something for this kid from Philly.
Vegas-Runner, a pro sports bettor in Las Vegas, has been featured on CNBC/ESPN. Follow him on Twitter @vegasrunner, at Pregame.com and on AM 1100 ESPN (also FM 98.9) on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. when he co-hosts First Preview. Contact Vegas Runner at [email protected].