By Eric Raskin
Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto are from roughly the same pugilistic generation. They’re both in their 30s, separated by a single Olympic class. But their undercard is built around cross-generational matchups, pitting rising twentysomething talents against veterans nearing middle age. It’s Generation X vs. Generation Y, and here’s the A-to-Z of each bout:
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (39-0-1, 27 KOs) vs. Shane Mosley (46-7-1, 39 KOs)
12 Rounds, Junior Middleweights
Three-division former champ Mosley will waltz into the International Boxing Hall of Fame five years after he retires, and there are some who believe Alvarez has the ability to ensure that date comes five years after this Saturday night. Does Sugar Shane have anything left at age 40? He’s coming off a shutout loss to Manny Pacquiao, an ugly draw against Sergio Mora, and a one-sided defeat to Mayweather. On paper, it looks like Mosley is nearing the end. Then again, his defeats did come against the two best fighters in the world, and most observers felt Mosley deserved to win the Mora fight.
The 21-year-old Alvarez is no Pacquiao or Mayweather — at least not yet — but he’s earning more and more respect from the boxing community with each fight as his ability and accomplishment gradually catch up with his enormous popularity. He’s coming off of TKO wins over the veteran trio of Ryan Rhodes, Alfonso Gomez, and Kermit Cintron, and one compelling plotline here is whether he can run that streak to four straight knockouts against a legend in Mosley who has never been stopped in 54 pro fights.
Alvarez is the clear betting favorite, and he has most of the physical advantages. But it should be noted that hand speed has never been Canelo’s forte, whereas the prime version of Sugar Shane was one of the fastest fighters around. Even at 40, can Mosley’s punches get there first?
Jessie Vargas (18-0, 9 KOs) vs. Steve Forbes (35-10, 11 KOs)
10 Rounds, Welterweights
Vargas was given a prime slot on the last Mayweather undercard and neither excelled nor repelled. In an entertaining bout that could have gone either way, Vargas captured a split decision over Josesito Lopez to remain unbeaten. This Saturday, the 22-year-old Vargas will look to win more definitively over former world titleholder Forbes, a 35-year-old craftsman who is notoriously difficult to look good against.
Forbes, best known for a run to the finals on the second season of ‘The Contender,’ is filling in on short notice for fellow ‘Contender’ alum Alfonso Gomez. He’ll need to turn back the clock at least a few years to have a shot against Vargas. But Forbes always gives an honest effort, and the challenge for Vargas is not just to keep the zero on the end of his record, but to give his hometown Las Vegas fans something to cheer about along the way.
DeAndre Latimore (23-3, 17 KOs) vs. Carlos Quintana (28-3, 22 KOs)
10 Rounds, Junior Middleweights
As the first man to defeat both Paul Williams and Joel Julio, Quintana is no stranger to spoiling the ascent of a young fighter. Latimore isn’t quite the mega-prospect that both Williams and Julio were at the time of their unfortunate run-ins with “El Indio,” but he is in his physical prime at 26 and has shown flashes of world-class talent. The 35-year-old Quintana is a perfect barometer of whether Latimore can reach that next level—while still having enough left in the tank himself that an impressive win over Latimore can potentially earn him another major opportunity.
This battle of southpaws looks like the most even matchup on the undercard. Quintana should have the edge in skill, Latimore the edge in power. Quintana has a bit more elite-level experience. Latimore has the advantages of youth.
Like Alvarez and Vargas, he’s hoping youth can prevail on May 5.