By Jake Donovan
Floyd Mayweather and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez kicked off their press tour to hype up their September 14 showdown in Las Vegas. New York City’s Times Square played host to the first stop of the 11-city, nine-day tour to promote the biggest possible fight that can realistically be made today.
Mayweather has long served as among the very best in the sport, but the height of his popularity has coincided with his involvement in heavily Mexican-themed fights. The unbeaten pound-for-pound king has played Cinco de Mayo weekend four times and now serves as the star attraction for his third fight on Mexico Independence Day weekend.
More often than not, Mayweather (44-0, 26 “by way of…”) has embraced the villain role on such occasions. As much is expected when he steps into the ring with Alvarez (42-0-1, 30KO), who has rapidly become the face of boxing in Mexico.
“Canelo fans, you have stood behind him. He’s a true champion, he’s a young champion. He’s earned the right to stand here today with me. He’s a fighter I can’t overlook,” Mayweather admits of his upcoming challenge, the second bout of his lucrative six-fight pact with Showtime. “He’s a young, strong challenger. I’m a young, strong champion.”
Mayweather’s interpretation of youth is clearly different from others considering the 12-year gap in age between the two. But with that gap doesn’t necessarily come an advantage in youth.
“The difference here is experience,” Mayweather insists. “I’ve been here before and know what it takes to win.”
The Grand Rapids (Mich.)-born, Vegas based star has shown every time out his flair for having what it takes to win. The most recent display came this past May against Robert Guerrero, delivering yet another dominant performance at the MGM Grand, where this bout will take place as has Mayweather’s previous seven dating back to his points win over Oscar de la Hoya.
The aforementioned event destroyed pay-per-view records with a staggering 2.4 million units sold, to where fights no longer had to be classified as “non-heavyweight events.” Every Mayweather event since then has carried such clout, cracking the one-million buy barrier at least four times since then.
Given his standing as the highest paid athlete in the world and Alvarez’ immense popularity in Mexico (and quickly rising on this side of the border), the expectation is for September 14 to produce mind-boggling financial results. It’s also expected for Alvarez to serve as the crowd favorite.
What’s nowhere nearly as guaranteed is the outcome. The odds favor Mayweather, but many tab Alvarez as having the best chance of any fighter from 154 and below to bump off the long-reigning pound-for-pound entrant.
It’s talk that Mayweather has heard before, with a minor difference being the amount of respect he has for his next challenger.
“Mexico has produced some legendary champions. I take my hat off to the country of Mexico. I respect the country of Mexico,” Mayweather said, respecting the support shown for his opponent and occasional jeers thrown his way during Monday’s press conference. “One thing about the sport of boxing - my fans can’t fight for me, and his fans can’t fight for him.
“The Earth is my turf. You can put me in any ring and I will always come out victorious.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox