With the all-time pay-per-view record firmly within reach, this Saturday night’s Showtime fight card should be one for the ages. Headlined by the epic showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez, it should be a phenomenal night of boxing.
Here’s my take on all four of the fights shown on the PPV card in the order in which they’ll be shown.
Pablo Cesar Cano (26-3-1, 19 KOs) vs. Ashley Theophane (33-5-1, 9 KOs)
This fight is a lot like going to the best steakhouse in town, but when the appetizer comes out it looks and tastes like a Tibetan Mastiff’s bowel movement. You don’t want to get too irate because you know the shrimp cocktail and medium-well filet are still to come, so you regretfully take a few nibbles while salivating for what lies ahead.
Indeed, this 10-round non-title welterweight scrap is the least appealing fight on the televised portion of the Showtime PPV card. This one seems destined to go the distance, as evidenced by the fact that Theophane has never been stopped in any of his five losses, and Cano has only been stopped once among his three losses.
Theophane actually gave Danny Garcia some trouble back in 2010, losing a split decision. Since then, however, he’s fought nothing but subpar competition, while Cano has been fighting guys like Paul Malignaggi, Erik Morales and Shane Mosley.
Although Cano lost all three of the aforementioned fights, he accounted for himself pretty well against Mosley and Malignaggi. He’s also just 23-years-old, making him 10 years younger than Theophane. I’ll take the younger guy who seems to be getting better over the older guy who seems to be regressing based on the string of bum opponents he’s chosen to face in the past few years.
Official prediction: Cano by decision
Betting value: Over 8.5 Rounds -300. Yeah, I usually hate laying this much juice too, but Theophane has no power and an iron chin so this should go the full 10 rounds.
Carlos Molina (21-5-2, 6 KOs) vs. Ishe Smith (25-5, 11 KOs)
If Cano-Theophane represents the surprisingly awful appetizer at a five-star restaurant, this bout is the cocktail that just isn’t quite stiff enough for your liking. A 12-rounder for Smith’s IBF light middleweight title, this fight also seems likely to go to the scorecards.
Both guys have solid boxing skills but neither possesses much in the way of power. While the fight won’t entertain casual boxing fans, the fact that it’s for a title makes it at least slightly more intriguing. Smith earned his title by beating the lowly Cornelius Bundrage, who is more of a gatekeeper-level fighter than a title-wearing champion. But hey, a title is a title, so good for Smith.
Molina is a very polished fighter who just lacks power. He has solid footwork, punches to the body well, throws combinations and has a pretty sturdy chin. He’s a judges’ wet dream and a Toughman Competition fan’s nightmare. I like Molina to win a clear, unanimous decision in a boring tactical fight.
Official prediction: Molina by decision
Betting value: Molina -220 and Over 10.5 Rounds -300. Again, a ton of vigorish, but these are both extremely solid plays.
Lucas Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs) vs. Danny Garcia (26-0, 16 KOs)
Ah, finally on to the good stuff. This 12-rounder for the WBA and WBC light welterweight titles should be everything it’s expected to be and then some. Matthysse is a cold-blooded killer who destroys everything in his path. Garcia has power of his own, plus a few intangibles like heart, a great chin and Philly swag. A broad range of outcomes is conceivable in this matchup as either guy could win by stoppage or decision.
Since a Garcia stoppage win is probably the least likely outcome given Matthysse’s sturdy beard, I like Matthysse to win since his chances of scoring a knockout are higher. And as I mentioned earlier, Garcia barely beat Ashley Theophane by split decision in 2010 and also barely beat the lowly-regarded Kendall Holt by split decision in 2011. In my opinion Garcia is a much better fighter now than he was then, so I’m trying not to look into those performances too much, but you can’t ignore them. Garcia seemed to turn the corner around the time he beat Amir Khan, so perhaps a sneaky value play on Garcia is the way to go?
Official prediction: Matthysse by stoppage
Betting value: Garcia +210. Here’s a classic example of making a play based on value rather than what you think is going to happen. Although I think Matthysse will win, Garcia is the play since he’s a live dog and better than 2 to 1 at many books.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs) vs. Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. (44-0, 26 KOs)
Decent little main event I guess. Billed as “The One,” this 12-round fight is for the WBA and WBC light middleweight titles despite being at a 152-pound catch-weight. There’s no need for much back story with these two well-known pugilists, so I’ll cut right to the chase.
Canelo is a young, hungry lion and every bit a live dog in my eyes. However, Mayweather is a master of always dictating the terms of everything. He hasn’t fought outside of Las Vegas since 2005 (2005!). That’s like the Miami Heat telling David Stern, “You know what, from now on we’re going to play all our games at home, OK?”
Mayweather also pulled the old, “Oh, you’re naturally a little bit bigger than me? Let’s make you come down 2 more pounds to a catch-weight so you might be slightly weight drained and dehydrated” move. Some may think such a tactic is shady, but it really just shows the brilliance of Mayweather in and out of the ring. If you want to make millions fighting him, you have to make sacrifices and let him dictate all the terms.
Combine Floyd’s skill and smart match-making along with his home turf advantage, and I have to pick Mayweather by decision this Saturday. I certainly give Canelo a puncher’s chance though, and if he can channel his inner Chris Weidman, he may just shock the world and catch the legend with something huge. A value bet on Canelo to win by stoppage may not be as ridiculous as it seems.
Official prediction: Mayweather by decision
Betting value: Alvarez by KO/TKO/DQ +500. It may sound far-fetched, but there’s a tiny bit of value here.
Join us right here at Rumors and Rants on Saturday night for our live blog coverage of the entire televised portion of the Showtime PPV card. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @konundrum8