‘Money’ Mayweather, at the time the unified super-welterweight world champion widely recognised as the world’s top pound-for-pound boxer, was arguably at the peak of his powers.
Often referred to as the master technician in boxing history, the American had left a trail of destruction in his wake including famous wins over former champions Arturo Gatti, Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya.
And so as Canelo Alvarez landed in Las Vegas for the clash of the ages at the MGM Grand, he was well aware of what lay in store for him on the night.
It was, in many ways, a fight which Alvarez had no right to win. But he still gave it a good go, even if the result didn’t exactly go his way.
According to data provided by CompuBox, Mayweather landed 46% of his total punches, as opposed to Canelo, who landed just 22% after averaging 42% in his previous seven fights.
To put it simply, it was a boxing masterclass with the kind of attacking output many doubted Mayweather had left in his arsenal.
He danced around Alvarez, effortlessly moving in and out of range to close the distance. He made the most of his technical ability and fight IQ to keep Alvarez at bay, deftly evading a combination from the Mexican despite being backed up against the ropes in the eighth round.
But Alvarez refused to get downbeat about the manner of that defeat as he blamed Mayweather for refusing to engage with him.
“I didn’t take it as a loss,” is the way Alvarez remembered it during an interview with actor Eugenio Derbez.
“I took it as an apprenticeship. I still didn’t have the experience to fight in those scenarios and it was a really boring fight.”
Thankfully for Canelo, it gave him that extra motivation to take his career to the next level. Fast forward several years later, the Mexican stands as one of boxing’s all-time greats because rather than sitting there and feeling sorry for himself, he decided to do something about it.
“But the next day I said to myself that this is not going to take anything away from my goal of being the best,” he added.
“In boxing, I’m the second Mexican in history who managed to become the best pound for pound [fighter in the world].”
And while it’s something that will stay with him for the rest of his life, Alvarez is still grateful for that experience as it helped turn him into the fighter he is today.
“I know what happened, I’m going to be with my trainer all my life, because I know,” Canelo said in a recent interview with Mike Tyson.
“When I fought with Floyd, I was 23. I always think I need to fight first with Cotto, Lara and all of those guys and then Floyd.
“But that’s what it is. I needed more experience, more mature. I don’t take that fight like a loss, I learned from that fight.”