Okay. This is going to be a long one, so if you prefer to just skip to the bottom and read my scores, feel free. But if you really want to test your analytical skills, and become a better watcher of fights, then read through, and let me know what you think.
I just finished rewatching Mayweather vs. Alvarez, and I came up with a shocking conclusion. You ready?
CJ Ross' draw score is absolutely justifiable.
The blowback from Ross' shocking score was impressive, even forcing the much-maligned judge to take a leave of absence after the fight. But I aim to prove to you that her score was far from ridiculous.
If you want to rewatch with me, please feel free. Here is the link to the video that I watched (quality's not great, but what can you do?). Go round by round with me when you have the time, and here's the imporant bit: watch the fight with the sound off. The Showtime commentary is pretty horrendous at times when bias is concerned, and without their voices you'll have a much easier time of focusing on the actual fight.
The first thing that strikes me is Floyd's obvious respect for Canelo's boxing. He immediately looks completely unwilling to stand right in front of Canelo, constantly adjusting to keep the Mexican boxer from lining him up. I would happily score this round a draw, but considering that the judges don't have the same luxury, I'll give it to Mayweather. Neither guy landed anything solid, with Canelo establishing early that he's not just going to just eat jabs all day by countering with double jabs and jabs to the body after every one of Floyd's attempts.
Again, it's way too close to be of much significance, but based on a few more connected jabs and one glancing counter right, I'll give this one to Floyd.
This one is just as close as the first, but with increased activity. Canelo once again looks to counter Floyd's jabs with a double jab of his own, but can't seem to find Floyd's chin. He does manage to touch Mayweather on the shoulder and chin, however. Floyd lands a slick right hand, but it's definitely a scoring punch. And while Alvarez doesn't land much upstairs, he does find targets for some solid body punches. A reaching left hook from Alvarez is more or less equaled out by a pair of smothered punches from Mayweather.
We're so used to seeing Floyd shoulder roll right hands that we tend to forget that he can still be struck while doing so. This is the first of many times that we will see Canelo land his right hand to the body as Floyd turns away, catching the older fighter behind the left elbow.
(Interim note: How uncomfortable must all of these rich casino-goers in the front rows be sitting next to Li'l Wayne's shirtless ass?)
The first minute of the round is characterized by multiple clinches, in which Canelo tries to counter Floyd's jab with his own left, and Floyd steps in under his arm, nearly lifting the bigger man off his feet a couple times. Both men are pot-shotting and trying to counter, but haven't found their respective ranges yet.
The first decent shot of the round is a rising hook from Alvarez that catches Floyd partially on the glove. Nice combination to set it up, though. Alvarez reacts to sudden changes very well. Floyd answers half a minute later with a glancing but impressive looking right hand, the first meaningful combination he's thrown so far. Canelo counters a nose-tickling jab with a hard one of his own moments later, and Floyd realizes that perhaps this isn't the kind of fight in which to show off his back-against-the-ropes inside fighting skills, circling away immediately.
Canelo finishes the round with a scary uppercut to counter a swinging overhand right from Floyd. Close call, though I don't think it landed. Another very close round. At this point I'm starting to see that Floyd will win rounds like these by looking more impressive without actually performing better than his opponent. Alvarez chooses to block Floyd's early combination, while Floyd tends move around in defense. Neither a missed punch nor a blocked punch should be scored, but a missed punch looks worse than a blocked one, even if the opponent doesn't capitalize on the whiff.
I also think that Canelo's posture hurts him here. Even though he's got solid defense and a good chin, punches that do land tend to make his head wobble around, while Floyd's straight back and tucked chin make Alvarez' harder punches look relatively soft. Still, one good punch isn't enough to win against Canelo's more effective pressure and cleaner shots.
Cinnamon begins this round with a nice jab to the body and a series of left hooks. These are "soft" punches--thrown for speed rather than power, but they land. Floyd fails to shoulder roll a right hand to the body from Alvarez, but counters nonetheless with his own right. Neither shot is very clean. Floyd lands his first truly effective punch of the fight with a hard right hand after a stiff jab to the body. Another jab after that, and then a clinch in which Floyd catches a glove to the pills. Closer inspection reveals that this was a response to Floyd cranking on Canelo's neck by twisting his head by the chin during the clinch.
Floyd goes to touch gloves (something Luis Monda recently pointed out he only does in closely contested fights), but Canelo isn't interested. Really nice pair of body shots by Canelo after a few probing jabs from Mayweather, and then a thudding right hook to the body from Money. A good right hand to counter Floyd's jab, and then a solid left hook to the gut to follow up. Good jabs, and another right hand from Alvarez, though it might have slid off Floyd's shoulder. A left hook from Mayweather draws the excitement of the commentators, but Canelo blocked it with his elbow.
Floyd finishes the round with a good jab, a quick right hand, and a sneaky left hook, but his moment is spoiled a little by another hard jab from Canelo. Once again, Floyd landed the showier punches at the beginning and end of the round, but the bulk of the round was decided by Canelo's ramrod jab and body punches, as well as the first decent shots to the head of Mayweather.
Floyd looks to have found the timing for Canelo's jab, and he throws a nice right hand from the hip that catches the younger fighter lunging in. A couple jabs and some nice body punches from Alvarez. Floyd lands another right as Alvarez jabs, this one a chopping blow over the top. Long left hook and a glancing right hook to the ribs from Alvarez. Floyd is much busier and more accurate with his jab this time around, having already stuck Canelo with a few solid left hands. Short left hook from Mayweather.
A slapping left hook from Canelo catches Floyd off balance. That's a very sneaky punch from him--looks like a jab until it lands on the side of your head. I wish he'd throw it palm down though, and get a little damage out of it. Floyd lands a right hand and Canelo once again almost succeeds in countering him with the right uppercut. It sounds like it lands, but it's hard to see--the replay reveals that at best it was a glancing blow. Canelo slaps floud with another left hook, but Floyd shoulder rolls the follow-up right hand beautifully and throws a counter right, which barely grazes Canelo's head. A bit later Floyd connects with a slapping left hook of his own, and then another glancing right hand. Canelo lands a hard uppercut to his ribs before they clinch up. Floyd comes back with a couple of punches to Canelo's belt line on either side, but eats a jab in the process.
Very close, but I'll give this one to Floyd. He was a bit busier, and started to land some nice counters. Alvarez' jab looking very sharp, though.
Alvarez immediately follows his corner's instructions to get busy, cornering Floyd and throwing a quick combination, ending with a left hook that is partially blocked. He continues to pressure, deftly avoiding Floyd's jab. He lands a nice left hook mid-exchange. Once again he lands that long left hook, which Floyd is having difficulty avoiding--he keeps expecting a jab. Floyd throws a right hand that gets blocked, then blocks one right uppercut and avoids another. The two exchange partially blocked right hands, and another combination from Canelo ends in a pair of hard left hooks, one to the body and the second to the head. Right to the body and a short left hook from Floyd as Canelo pivots out.
Canelo shoulder bumps Floyd under the chin, and the impression I get from Floyd's body language as the ref warns his opponent is that he's enjoying this. He truly respects Alvarez' grit, and he tries once again to touch gloves with the young man, who points at Floyd a couple times seeming to say that Floyd is initiating the gamesmanship, not he. A few more jabs, and Canelo lands a nice right hand over the top. Floyd lands some quick punches without much behind them, and Alvarez throws a much harder combination in response, landing a hard right hand to Floyd's body as he tries to shoulder roll. Floyd finds a series of good right hands punctuated by another uppercut from Canelo and a combination that allows Floyd to show off his defensive finesse.
Despite the last thirty seconds, I think that Alvarez once again landed the better punches. Completely opposite to my initial impressions, he is actually finding far more success with his jab than Mayweather, landing lefts aplenty to Money's chest, shoulder, chin, and stomach.
(Interim note: Check out Mayweather's body language after the shoulder shot in the replay. He's like, "Alright, alright..." The fans might have thought that Alvarez looked frustrated, but for Money May this is clearly a case of "game recognize game."
Floyd looks to take over in this round. He lands a good 1-2 coming forward, and then pressures, using lots of feints, to get Canelo into the corner. He once again seems to be getting the timing of Alvarez' jab, and he lands one of his own followed by a right hand over the top while deftly avoiding Canelo's left hand. He starts bounding jabs off of Canelo's guard and sticking him in the belly, using his eyes to misdirect his opponent. Mayweather's distance control looks really slick in this round as he slides away from Canelo's combinations and counters with his jab. He's also starting to read those right hands, not exposing his left side to Canelo's body shots, but catching the glove on his elbow.
Floyd walks Canelo down again, avoiding most of his punches and blocking others. He touches Canelo with his jab and lands a sweeping right around his guard, then another series of jabs followed by a nice looking right uppercut (Canelo's posture betraying him again). For the next thirty seconds he alternates jabbing Alvarez' guard and the pit of his stomach, throwing another pair of right hands that are blocked, followed by yet another sweeping right hand that lands clean. Finally Alvarez fights his way out of the corner, but that sequence looked really bad for him. Unless he lands something noteworthy this will be Floyd's round.
He doesn't. Clearest round of the fight so far.
Alvarez opens the round with a combination, landing a body shot but failing to connect with anything else clean. Another nice looking combination a bit later, but again only the right to the body lands, his powerful left hook catching Floyd's glove. Floyd seems to pick up the pace a bit, and tries to counter Canelo's jab with the check hook he used to knock out Hatton, but it's blocked. Canelo tries another combination against the ropes, but no cigar on this one.
Floyd throws two flashy looking 1-2s, but only the jabs are landing, and Alvarez lands a thunderous left hook to Floyd's gut as he tries to pivot out with a left hook of his own. Good combination by Alvarez against the ropes. His left hook catches Floyd as he slips the jab, and then he uses a stiff arm to set up a right overhand. It's very difficult to catch Floyd with a right hand, and this one glances off as he leans back, but it's the cleanest one of the fight so far. Another pair of left hooks gets blocked as Floyd gets off the ropes. Now Alvarez puts Floyd back on the ropes, but he can't land anything clean (except perhaps those rights to the body--it's hard to tell from this angle). Floyd sticks him with a short counter right as he resets to try again.
Now Floyd is touching Canelo with the jab as he walks forward. He gets cornered again, but a three punch combination lands for him and makes Alvarez look bad. Good left hook after a feinted right hand after that. Another right hand to the ribs from Canelo, and another nice 1-2 from Floyd to finish up the round.
Tough round to score, but Floyd landed the cleaner shots to the head, while Canelo's best punches were to the body.
Note: I could see this round going to Canelo, which already validates CJ Ross' apparently abhorrent draw scorecard. Keep that in mind when lambasting her in the future.
Alvarez goes back to his jab, but Mayweather blocks three in quick succession.
(Note: At this point the commentary team's scores come up. They all have Floyd ahead, two with scores of 79-73, and Paulie Malignaggi with 78-74. Currently I have Floyd down 76-77)
Canelo tries for some hard right hooks. He seems to want to walk Floyd into his right hand with that long hook, but Floyd's shoulder roll flummoxes him, and his right merely slaps the outside of Floyd's shoulder. Floyd blocks some more punches. Both guys trade jabs to the head and body. Not much landing. Nice right uppercut from Mayweather and a left hook that's blocked. Canelo with a short right over the top as they separate from a clinch. More punches from Canelo to the head and body, and Floyd seems to know what's coming now. He's blocking everything.
One right hand to the body gets partially through Mayweather's defense, and he counters with a right hand that whiffs. A few jabs and Mayweather tries another right hand that gets blocked. Very quick right hand from Mayweather that looks like it catches Alvarez on the chin. I think he rolls his head with the punch, but that kind of makes it look even harder. Canelo looks a little sluggish now, but he lands a pair of glancing right hands. Mayweather dodges a left hook and then counters a jab with a quick right hand. He casually lands some jabs through the guard of Alvarez. Hard right hand to the body from Floyd and then a jab. Another one, right into the pit of Canelo's stomach, and the Mexican fighter can't seem to get past Floyd's lead shoulder anymore.
Floyd finishes up the round by dodging another Alvarez combination, and taunting his opponent with his hands on his knees.
Alvarez tries the long hook and right hand again, but Mayweather avoids both shots, bouncing off the ropes to circle back to the center of the ring. He tries for a jab and Alvarez counters with a pair of hard jabs, one to the head and one to the body, and then a right to the body that Floyd blocks. Canelo tries the lead right and Floyd shoulder rolls it, countering with his own right. It doesn't land well, but it looks good for him. The two exchange a few times, with nothing really getting through for either fighter. Canelo throws a big combination of power punches, but only a jab and an awkward right get through.
Floyd back on the offensive, and he lands another right hand. Floyd has Canelo against the ropes and he tries to pot shot him to pieces again, but he can't replicate the success he had in round 7. Canelo's blocking everything except a few jabs to the chest. The lack of initiative looks bad for him, though. Here we go: Canelo puts Floyd against the ropes (just as Malignaggi is saying how he doesn't know how to trap him) and lands a good right hand, then a series of punches to the body and another right to the head, but none of these land very cleanly. Floyd with some light jabs and the two stare one another down after the bell.
This one goes to Floyd, but it's unbelievably close. I desperately want to call it a draw. Floyd had Canelo on the ropes for longer and landed a bit more, but Canelo landed the much harder shots in his moments of control.
The first blow is a vicious right hook to the kidney by Alvarez, which gets him a warning from the ref. Alvarez with a swinging right hand, trying to catch Floyd pivoting, but it's no good. Another right hand to the body from Canelo after a few flickering jabs. That's consistently been his best punch, and it seems like a good one to use against a guy like May, who turns his body away when he defends. Combinations from Alvarez, but Floyd's defense looks very tight, and he steals the initiative right back with a clean 1-2 combination. Canelo might be a little frustrated now, as he shoves Mayweather away when the ref breaks their clinch.
A few jabs, a couple of glancing left hooks, and then another quick lead right that lands clean from Mayweather. Three left hooks in succession from Floyd, the last of which lands clean. Canelo responds with a nice left hook to the liver against the ropes, and a few more hard punches, but Floyd's catching everything else on his arms.
Canelo actually landed the better punches, but not nearly enough of them. Floyd accumulated more points with his jab, and managed to make Alvarez look a little silly by avoiding almost all of his punches, including a right hand that rattled the ropes prompting Floyd to mock his opponent. Canelo's inexperience started to show in this round, as he began hunting for the knockout blow but without the jabs and feints he was showing earlier in the fight.
The ref asks the fighters to touch glove as the final round begins, and Floyd's touch is a grandiose gesture, half bravado and half legitimate respect. Canelo's own touch is a curt tap. This small exchange is a microcosm of the fight so far.
The first blows are once again from Alvarez, as he lands a jab and a right uppercut to the body, followed by a rabbit punch to Floyd's ear when Floyd holds him. He uses his shoulder to shove Mayweather back as the ref breaks them up. Now Floyd is dancing around with his hands lowered, catching Canelo's punches on his arms. Floyd connects with the second of two left hooks as he steps around to Alvarez' right.
Now Mayweather clinches and Canelo punishes him with some nice bodyshots and a hard right hook upstairs. Floyd tries to smother Canelo's power. Bayless tells them to break and then changes his mind. They continue to work, Canelo trying for a right uppercut and missing, Floyd trying to counter with a hook and missing as well. Floyd starts dancing around and Canelo is practically jogging after him, desperate to finish strong. He backs up into the center ring, expressing his frustration with Mayweather's tactics, and Money obliges him by coming forward.
Good left hook to the body by Canelo followed by a right and another left up top that Floyd blocks. Floyd tries to shoulder roll a lead right from Canelo but gets caught and misses with his counter. The two exchange counters, but neither of them lands. Another body jab that forces Floyd to step in and Canelo cracks him behind the ear with a chopping right. 1-2 by Canelo, and the right hand isn't clean but it touches Floyd on the temple. Floyd's counter misses again.
And the final bell.
Final Score: 115-113 Floyd Mayweather, 7 rounds to 5
Conclusion: There is a big difference between watching a fight as a fan and watching as a judge. Though many of us like to keep a running tally of the score as we watch live, we also tend to get caught up in the flash and flair of the fight. Next time a score seems controversial to you, I urge you to rewatch the fight as soon as possible with the sound off, merely looking at which fighter caused more damage to the other round by round. That should be the prime criterion in mind when judging prizefighting.
What did I learn from this fight? I learned that Canelo Alvarez is a hell of a fighter, with a damn near unbreakable will. Though I was impressed by his dogged determination in the immediate aftermath of the fight, I am even more impressed now that I realize how truly close this fight was. This 23 year-old has nothing to be ashamed of: he showed a great jab, solid pressuring skills, and ferocious body punching. In time, he will be as great as Mayweather, if not better. This just wasn't quite his time to take this fight.
I also learned that Floyd is better than any other boxer in the game at looking like he's winning, even when he's not. His in-ring antics, his unique style of defense, and his counters, which often look much more impressive than they really are, make him a difficult fighter to score. When Mayweather is in a close fight, which this was, his style allows him to land on the right side of that margin of error.
I didn't mention it consistently, in part to avoid making this extensive breakdown even longer than it already is, and in part because not much damage was being caused, but Floyd was very busy with his jab throughout the entire fight. As Canelo walked him down, Floyd would constantly stick him with his left hand. And even though the majority of these punches were either quite soft or completely blocked/avoided, his activity allowed him to carry the fight in the judges' (and the fans') eyes even as he spent much of the fight moving backward. As such, Floyd was able to make Canelo's good moments look less-than-good, and his own moments of success seemed to stand out. Simply watch the intervals between rounds and see for yourself--all but one or two replays are of Floyd's punches, not Canelo's.
Watch this one again, and see if you find it to be closer than when you watched it live. You might find that "The One" was everything we were promised after all.