By Ivan G. Goldman
Bombshell of a tweet from Floyd Mayweather Wednesday night: “I chose my opponent for September 14th and it’s Canelo Alvarez. I’m giving the fans what they want. It will be at the MGM Grand.”
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer confirmed the news later to the media. The two fighters will compete at a catch weight of 152.
This incredibly intriguing contest will undeniably be one of the biggest boxing events of the last several years. You can expect major media from around the globe to be captivated. Talk shows, magazine covers, you name it. Anyone who knows this sport understands how huge it is, certainly the richest prizefight in history.
Either Mayweather polishes his Hall of Fame credentials with another significant victory or the red-haired boy wonder from Mexico shoots into the stratosphere — no longer just a star, but a worldwide sensation. Baby-faced Canelo will turn 23 just two months before the bout.
“It’s the one fight that everybody wants to see,” said Schaefer, “and it’s the one that we’ve been working on very, very hard, so it’s done. The fight is done.”
After years of dancing around a possible match against Manny Pacquiao, who was punched out of the picture last year by Juan Manuel Marquez, Mayweather, at age 36, is taking a fight that’s more perilous, at least as things now stand. How dangerous Pacquiao might have been to him two or three years ago is something we’ll never know. But last December Marquez, looking stronger and quicker at age 39 than he did a dozen years ago, stretched the Filipino Congressman out like a throw rug in the same Grand Garden Arena of the MGM that will be the site of Mayweather-Alvarez.
Pacquiao gets the consolation prize of Brandon Rios in Macau, China on November 23. But Rios, like Pacquiao, lost his last time out. Alvarez and Mayweather have no losses period — a combined record of 86-0 (56 KOs). Interestingly, Canelo, at age 22, has more knockouts (30) than Floyd. Floyd, who fights sparingly and for giant dollars, has only two more fights under his belt (44).
Mayweather and his advisors know this sport as well as anyone out there, and when they accept an opponent, clearly they believe they can come home with the bacon. If Floyd really means to fight several more times before hanging up his gloves, he probably figures it’s better to fight Canelo now than later, after the hard-hitting youngster has gained more experience and Floyd has lost a millisecond of reaction time. In his last fight, against Robert Guerrero on May 4, Mayweather looked about as sharp as he’s ever been.
As for Alvarez, he’s the poster child for risk-taking hungry fighters, looking better every time out. Only last month he bested clever, previously undefeated Austin Trout, who may or may not have been the WBA light middleweight champion, depending on which day you asked the WBA about it. Sometimes it says Mayweather owns that title. Canelo owns the WBC belt outright, and clearly both belts will be on the line in September.
Apparently Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions, which had planned a card headed by Tim Bradley-Marquez on September 14, knows when it’s licked and will move its event to October 12. That surrender, should it occur, will no doubt have Arum gnashing his teeth and Schaefer and Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya skipping around a Maypole. Plus, Showtime, which will operate the Floyd-Canelo pay-per-view, sticks it to HBO once again.
Historically, Mayweather-Alvarez could be likened to the first Roberto Duran-Sugar Ray Leonard contest in June 1980, when a beloved Panamanian slugger took on an African-American superstar in one of the biggest welterweight bouts of the post-World War II era. Unfortunately for the fighters, pay-per-view technology wouldn’t become big for another ten years or so, so their purses were less than astronomical. Mayweather was guaranteed $32 million against Guerrero. He stands to make quite a bit more against Canelo.
Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag is due out in June. It can be pre-purchased here.