By Tim Dahlberg ,AP
LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather turned one of the richest fights ever into just another $41.5 million payday on Saturday by dominating Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez from the opening bell to enhance his reputation as the best boxer in the world.
Fighting off his shortest layoff in years, Mayweather was sharp, efficient and sometimes brutal in dismantling an unbeaten fighter who was bigger and was supposed to punch harder. He frustrated the Mexican early, pounded him with big right hands in the middle rounds, and made him look just like he said he would — like any other opponent.
Mayweather was favored 117-111 and 116-112 on two ringside scorecards while a third surprisingly had the fight 114-114. The Associated Press scored it 119-109 for Mayweather.
“I just listened to my corner, listened to my dad,” Mayweather said. “My dad had a brilliant game plan, and I went out there and got the job done.”
Mayweather remained unbeaten in 45 fights and added another piece of the junior middleweight title to his collection in a fight that was fought at a catchweight 68.9-kilogram (152-pound) limit. Alvarez weighed in at that weight, but was an unofficial 74.8 kilograms (165 pounds) when he got into the ring while Mayweather was an even 68 (150).
Mayweather’s speed was the difference all night as he was able to land straight rights and left jabs, then get out of the way before Alvarez was able to respond. But while Mayweather used great defense, he wasn’t afraid to attack often and at different angles, finding Alvarez with punches he couldn’t anticipate.
“He’s very talented, very elusive,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez was supposed to be Mayweather’s greatest challenge and he did his best to force the action. Like others, though, he spent much of his night punching at an opponent who had already moved away from him.
“I didn’t know how to get him, it’s extremely simple,” Alvarez said. “He’s a great fighter, very intelligent. The frustration was getting in there, but he’s a great fighter. We tried to catch him.”
The sellout crowd at the MGM Grand tried its best to urge Alvarez on, but the cheers of “Canelo! Canelo!” were faint by the late rounds.
Alvarez kept trying to force the fight, but every time he went after Mayweather he paid for it with a counter right or a combination to the head. By the fourth round he was beginning to get frustrated, landing a low blow that angered Mayweather, who was further angered when Alvarez refused to touch gloves with him to resume the fight.
The fight was one of the richest ever — if not the richest ever — with a live gate of US$20 million and at least another US$100 million from pay-per-view. Tickets were so hot that celebrities were actually offering to buy them and some tickets were being offered online for as much as US$29,000.
Mayweather was the big beneficiary of that, making a guaranteed US$41.5 million to US$5 million for Alvarez. Add in his purse from his win over Robert Guererro in May and Mayweather made US$73 million in two fights.
The fight was on free TV in Mexico, and some estimates were that 70 million people would watch.