Five keys for Canelo Alvarez
Plotting a path to victory for Canelo Alvarez against Shane Mosley
As sports science and medicine reach new heights, it's not uncommon to see athletes excel well beyond their best years, sometimes facing opponents young enough to be their children. That would seem to be exactly the case for Saturday's Canelo Alvarez-Shane Mosley junior middleweight title bout in Las Vegas -- except that the age disparity between the 21-year-old Alvarez (39-0-1, 29 KOs) and the 40-year-old Shane Mosley (46-7-1, 39 KOs) isn't nearly so dramatic when you consider that Canelo turned pro at age 15 and he already has 40 fights.
But quantity and quality, whether they be measured in years or experience, are separate issues. Alvarez has faced several solid contenders with winning records in the past few years, but Mosley's competition -- most of which he has dominated over the course of his career -- comprises a veritable laundry list of great fighters of his era. The former three-division champion remains the only man to have notched two defeats against Oscar De La Hoya, one of a crowd of former and future champions Mosley has beaten.
With Canelo's 154-pound belt and quite possibly Mosley's future in the sport at risk, here are five keys to victory for Alvarez on Saturday:
The OH factor
|Canelo throws a punch that looks like a straight right hand, but its angle and the inclination of the body toward the left side suggest the usual motion of an overhand right, a classic counterpunch that takes speed and precision to be effective. It's usually the first punch thrown by Alvarez in his combinations, and it's often quite damaging. If that punch regularly finds its way to Mosley's head, Canelo can be counted on for a dominant performance.|
|It's a long word, and Alvarez's onslaughts should be just as drawn out. He's known for being cautious and pacing himself quite well, but when he sees an opening or feels Mosley is hurt or cornered, he should let the dogs out and unleash a steady stream of two-fisted punishment to keep Mosley at bay and land some damage. Just scoring often won't do. Canelo needs to overwhelm Mosley for the better part of each round in order to cement a victory.|
The 'ol 4-5 is the new 1-2
|Canelo is a great combination puncher, but his speed is his weakest point and he falls into lapses, throwing single jabs and lead-off right hands just to stay busy. Bad idea against Mosley, who will read this tactic easily and then come back with a more serious and busier combination of his own. Canelo needs to make the four- or five-punch combo his new minimum in order to keep Mosley on the defensive and give judges the impression of a sustained assault.|
Bring on the D
|Disaster warning here: Canelo's defense is horrendous. His strike-first approach works against most fighters today, but if he wants to put together a complete boxing package, he'll occasionally need to get his defensive act together. A potentially critical issue in the fight, it could lead to his defeat. Canelo must approach defense with the idea of ducking and slipping -- not just blocking punches (his natural instinct) -- to outduel a resourceful fighter like Mosley.|
Eye of the tiger
|To the naked eye, it might seem that Canelo lacks the killer instinct to go for the knockout when he has an opponent hurt, but his patience shows maturity. He should be cautious. And he needs to keep up the good work when it comes to pacing his attack, assessing damage and making adjustments, then capping his efforts with a KO combination. His pause-and-step-back moments in the middle of an onslaught are smart moves that he shouldn't abandon to please critics -- especially against a smart fighter like Mosley, who can never be considered out until he is down and out.|
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.
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