By Rick Reeno
Richard Schaefer, the CEO for Golden Boy Promotions, had a tough task in finalizing a junior middleweight fight between WBC champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (39-0-1, 29KOs) and former three division beltholder "Sugar" Shane Mosley (46-7-1, 39KOs).
Reaching a financial agreement was not the most difficult aspect of the negotiations. Schaefer had to work very hard to get both fighters to agree, especially Alvarez, to appear in a co-feature position on the Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto pay-per-view on May 5th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
In two of his last three fights, Mosley headlined successful pay-per-views against Manny Pacquiao and Mayweather - the two biggest names in the sport. In his last five ring appearances; Alvarez was the headline star and drew thousands of fans to each outing - including successful main events at Staples Center and the Honda Center. Arguably, Alvarez could have sold just as many tickets on Cinco De Mayo as the either of the main event stars.
"I have to tell you that financially it wasn't that difficult. What is was, it was more of a skillful thing to get the fighters to agree, particularly Canelo, to be the co-main event or however you want to call it. That was really, I think, the most difficult aspect of getting the fight done," Schaefer told BoxingScene.com.
"For Canelo to agree to fight on this card, although he is only 21-years young, it shows how mature he is and how his thinking is - because he realizes that it is the Super Bowl of boxing. He realizes that it's the second or third time that he's fighting on a Mayweather card and eventually the fight between him and Mayweather is going to happen, so it’s going to be an interesting comparison. He totally gets it and we're happy for the fight fans."
There is no denying that Schaefer could have easily separated Canelo-Mosley on its own - with HBO and Televisa being more than willing to pick up the fight. Mayweather-Cotto would have been a big sell on pay-per-view – with or without Alvarez-Mosley, but the event promoters refused to take the backdoor approach of loading up the undercard with fights comprised of recognized boxers facing off against unknown and overmatched opponents.
"I think you really have two pay-per-views wrapped in one. The fact is, Mayweather and Cotto is as big as a fight can be. It is clearly the most dangerous fight that Mayweather has had for a long time. It is clearly, I would say, the most dangerous since the De La Hoya fight. Cotto is coming off one of the biggest wins of his career, a demolition of Antonio Margarito. This is a fight that quite frankly you wouldn't need any undercard because people want to see it [and instead] you could just put a couple of tuneups [on the undercard] and you're done....like most other promoters probably would," Schaefer said.
"When Floyd Mayweather fights, we have seen in the last few years that it truly is our sport's Super Bowl, and Mayweather takes great pride in giving the fight fans their monies worth. The card he is putting together here is the biggest card that I can remember. Canelo and Mosley is a main event in itself. It can sell out the Staples Center or the MGM Grand or any venue in Texas. We could have put it in Aztec Stadium [in Mexico]."
When Alvarez-Mosley was announced on Friday night, not everybody was pleased and there was some criticism. In his last three fights - against Mayweather, Pacquiao and Sergio Mora - the action was less than spectacular. Schaefer doesn't make excuses to overlook Mosley's recent performances, but he does expect Mosley to enter this fight with a different state of mind. He expects a veteran fighter to enter the ring with a sense of urgency, because a loss to Alvarez would likely spell the end of Mosley's career.
There is an interesting fact in this match. Mosley has been undefeated at 154-pounds since 2004. His last defeat at 154 was to Winky Wright. In fact, Wright is the only boxer to defeat Mosley at 154.
"If you look at Mosley, he might have disappointed with his last couple of opponents, there is no question and there is nothing to sugarcoat that. But having said that, Shane Mosley knows that it’s do or die for him. I think Shane Mosley will be more ready than ever. And what I mean by that is the mental aspect going into a fight is extremely important to Shane and I think it always has been. When you look at Shane's biggest wins, they were all against Hispanics...Latino fighters...Mexican fighters mainly," Schaefer said.
"He's going to go into this fight with a lot of confidence because he grew up in those gyms in Southern California fighting Mexicans and that's just his style and the style that he's best suited to. He’s not a guy who likes to chase people around the ring. He likes people who attack. That's his style and that's when he looks the best. When you combine that with the fact that he knows its high noon for him, with the fact that it’s a style that’s tailor made for him - the confidence is going to be there and the urgency is going to be there."
"I think when you take confidence, urgency, and the legendary status of Shane, and I've said this same thing to Canelo - anybody who would underestimate Shane Mosley would be making a big mistake."
At the end of the day - Schaefer's company, and Mayweather Promotions, are combining their efforts to make Mayweather-Cotto the biggest pay-per-view in several years. He considers the completion of Alvarez-Mosley as a big step in achieving that goal.
"This is clearly the biggest pay-per-view in many, many years. When I gave the information to [MGM/Mirage President] Richard Sturm at the MGM, he couldn’t believe it. I think I had to repeat it three times until he understood that there is actually going to be Floyd Mayweather, the biggest star in the sport and pound-for-pound king with crossover appeal - and then Miguel Cotto, who is coming off his big victory of Antonio Margarito – and then Canelo Alvarez [who] is Mexico's number one and biggest star - and then you're going to have Shane Mosley, one of the true legends and [has] tremendous name recognition among fights fans and non-fight fans - and you're going to actually have all four of those guys on the same card. Actually when you think about it, it's quite mind boggling that we were able to pull that off."