On Saturday night, the US state of Nevada is likely to host one of the best boxing spectacles in recent times as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez becomes the 45th man to do battle with the widely considered pound-for-pound king of boxing—Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jnr.
Love him or hate him, Mayweather is boxing’s definition of box office. Undefeated in his previous 44 bouts, his 2007 fight against one of North and Latin America’s favourite sons, Oscar de la Hoya, still reigns as the highest grossing fight ever, at $2.4m.
According to BoxingScene.com, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer suggests, based on early estimates, Saturday’s bout will set a new record.
“I am very, very confident to say that this is the highest grossing boxing event of all-time – there is no question about it. The 2.5 [million buy], I’m not prepared to say that [it will be broken]. The gross is bigger than [De La Hoya-Mayweather]. I’m pretty confident that it will be over 2 million [buys], very confident. It will break the highest gross.”
Since that split-decision victory, Mayweather has gone on to clean up the welterweight and light-middleweight division, claiming hugely convincing victories over Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto in the process.
Manny Pacquaio’s name is a notable exclusion to the list but since the Filippino’s bargaining power was largely diminished following two successive defeats (which included a devastating knock-out against Marquez), a “super-fight” between the two adversaries is unlikely.
Currently, Mayweather is comfortably top of the boxing tree and given his promotional success (he promotes his own fights) he can comfortably call the shots.
The brash American recently signed a record-breaking 30 month fight deal with Showtime, guaranteeing six more fights before he hangs up his gloves for good aged 38 (his second retirement). Even before this deal was announcement, Forbes ranked Mayweather as the world’s highest paid athlete in 2011/12 following two fights inside 12 months, against Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto, resulting in a $85m purse for the Nevadan.
His first fight of the new Showtime deal was in May against Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero. So convincingly was Mayweather’s win, that many of fans threatened to avoid his following fights until he fought a real opponent.
In picking Canelo, there murmurs that an upset could be on the cards as the red-headed Mexican is the best out there. Far younger and probably stronger, Canelo still possesses the invaluable and underrated experience of being undefeated in 44 fights.
Furthermore, this is Mayweather’s fastest fight-turnaround time in 10 years. Add in the a recurrence of an old hand injury in the Guerrero bout and Canelo could make Mayweather feel every one of this 36 years come Saturday evening at the MGM Grand—whatever the final outcome.
However, speaking to All Access, the pound-for-pound king said:
“Boxing is an art. I don’t have to be the strongest, I don’t have to be the fastest, I don’t have to have the best footwork, but I’ve got the best mind. I know how to win.”
The bout will take place at a catch-weight of 152 pounds—with Mayweather’s camp quick to stipulate it was Canelo’s team who asked for the catch-weight.
Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather’s manager, labelled Canelo’s management team “inept” stating that they have disadvantaged their own fighter by insisting on a catch-weight. This was refuted though by Canelo himself:
“They wanted me to go to 147, I said that was physically impossible. Then they wanted 150 and then 151. I wanted to make the fight, so I agreed to 152. Then they forced me to be quiet about it.” (said Canelo according to ESPN)
Whilst Mayweather has questioned Canelo’s credentials, “How many world champions has he beaten?”, Canelo’s team ended All Access with a declaration:
“They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Not this time. What happens in Vegas is going to be heard all over the world.”
(Ring walk is expected to commence at 9pm ET)