Over 17 years, Floyd Mayweather has fought 44 times as a professional. Each time, he has left the ring victorious. Recently, experts and opponents alike have felt they've found the blueprint to defeat Mayweather. Canelo Alvarez will attempt to do so Saturday night, but here's what Mayweather can do to stop him:
"His style today is a very fan-friendly style. ... It's a beautiful thing for boxing."
-- Oscar De La Hoya in a May 2012 interview after Mayweather defeated Miguel Cotto
According to ESPN Stats & Information video tracking and CompuBox punch tracking, 87 percent of Mayweather's offense in his two most recent fights (12-round decision wins over Robert Guerrero and Miguel Cotto) has come on punches to the head. While facing Guerrero, he averaged 36 head punches per round, and against Cotto, he averaged 48 per round. Mayweather mixes up his head punches, using the jab 51 percent of the time and a power punch 49 percent of the time while aiming for the head. Mayweather can win if he is able to land a significant percentage of his head punches and disrupt the game plan of Alvarez, forcing him to protect and defend more than mount consistent offense.
"I think I'm just a very, very sharp fighter. I stay mentally sharp. ... At this level, you've got to get 10 steps ahead of your opponent."
-- Floyd Mayweather in Aug. 29 conference call
Mayweather likes to control the pace of fights, making his opponent fight on his terms. Using the jab is one of his weapons that allow him to do that successfully. CompuBox data shows that in his last 10 fights Mayweather has landed 33 percent of his jabs. In his previous two fights, Mayweather averaged 25 jabs per round versus Guerrero and 19 per round versus Cotto. Mayweather's jab sets up his power punches, for which he is very economical. According to CompuBox, his 23 power punches thrown per round is the sixth fewest among qualified fighters. Mayweather can win if he is able to use his jab to set up his power punches. Mayweather's 41 percent total connect rate is second only to Alvarez among qualified fighters, which brings up Mayweather's …
"Floyd will make Alvarez miss, and any boxer will tell you that there's nothing that tires you out more than hitting fresh air continually."
-- Ricky Hatton in a Sept. 6 interview with BBC Sport
Alvarez cannot defeat Mayweather if he cannot land his punches, and perhaps Mayweather's greatest asset is his ability to avoid being hit. According to CompuBox, Mayweather's opponents have a 21 percent power punch contact rate, which is the lowest among qualified fighters, and a 17 percent connect rate on all punches, which is the second lowest among qualified fighters. Mayweather's plus-24 plus/minus -- Mayweather lands 41 percent of his punches; his opponents land 17 percent -- is the highest among qualified fighters. CompuBox data show that in his most recent fight Mayweather was able to limit Guerrero to landing 19 percent of his punches, a significant drop from the 35 percent Guerrero landed in his prior fight. Cotto went from landing 43 percent of his punches against Antonio Margarito to landing 21 percent against Mayweather. According to CompuBox, in his previous 10 fights, Mayweather has limited his opponents to landing an average of just eight total punches per round, less than half the junior middleweight average. Mayweather can win if that trend continues and he is able to reduce the punching accuracy of Alvarez from the 42 percent he has landed during his seven most recent fights.
-- Statistical data provided by CompuBox