The Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez Magical Mystery Tour came to a close yesterday at the steps of the Los Angeles’ Staples Center in front of 10,000 fight fans. The promotional efforts of Golden Boy, who managed to put together boxing’s new biggest fight in a very short period of time, paid off big time, as sweet science enthusiasts flocked en masse to each of the press tour’s stops in ten different cities.
With the exception of a couple of mishaps—the Phoenix event was cancelled due to safety concerns related to wildfires raging in the zone, and Floyd and Saul missed each other in San Antonio due to a delayed flight—the hype machine revved on unimpeded, generating quotes by the mouthful and plenty of photo opportunities for media members and audiences alike. All the right, and expected, things were said and done: sexy ring girls framed the fighters’ stare-downs, promoters talked up wonders about the matchup, and the fans voiced their support for their favoured contestant at a fevered pitch.
The two stars whose names appeared on the billboards adorning every event on the press tour offered mostly rehashed quips of things they’ve been saying since the fight was first signed. Mayweather stayed faithful to his mantra that many have tried and many have failed, and that Canelo is just one more of these challengers:
“They say ‘Mayweather, you know you facing Canelo’ and I say yeah, but can you tell just ten world champions that he’s beat? Just ten, that’s all I ask. Then I say you know what, I’ve been sitting on the top of the throne for 17 years. Every time they get a guy, they build him up and you know what I do? Smack them down.”
He also had some choice words for former rival and Golden Boy founder and spokesman Oscar De La Hoya:
“It’s so crazy that Canelo is such a big star but he’s never been on pay per view unless he was on my undercard. But he’s such a big star. He’s such a big star, Oscar. You might as well call me the Golden Boy ‘cause I done beat everybody in your whole crew!”
The Mexican refused to yield on this point, but acknowledged Floyd represents by far the biggest challenge he has faced yet:
“I know him very well, we have studied him. His defense is very hard to penetrate, but we are going to come out with the right game plan. I’m a distinct fighter. I’m very different than anyone he has ever faced and I feel I’m going to be victorious.”
At the end of the day, however, perhaps the most revealing and important comments came courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who yesterday spoke at length with the media not only about Mayweather vs. Canelo, but also about his plans for the undercard, from which he mentioned we should expect great things. When pressed on whether this meant the much awaited Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse confrontation would take place at the MGM Grand on September 14 as a side-dish to the main event he refused to respond, but declarations by Showtime Sports’ vice-president Stephen Espinoza made at the same venue further fueled speculation that that is exactly what Schaefer is trying to pull off.
The reason Schaefer refused to offer any hints as to what he’s cooking up for the undercard of Mayweather vs. Canelo, as explained by the man himself, is that Top Rank is always on the lookout to “spoil” the plans of Golden Boy. Going further down this road, Schaefer also destroyed any notion that a truce can be reached in the Cold War between his company and Bob Arum’s Top Rank. When asked what it would take for the two companies to bridge the gap and come together to put some fights, Schaefer flatly stated that he’s “done” trying to make that happen. He said he has made efforts in the past to make business with Top Rank and was turned down every time. Thus, like a bachelor who refuses to have his dignity trampled on by the same cold-hearted temptress again, Schaefer’s mind is made, and will therefore stay away from any further attempts at courting Top Rank.
With the Showtime/CBS dynamic duo putting their weight—and their money—behind Floyd Mayweather Jr., we’re sure the media blitz will continue all the way to September 14, but for now the fighters have done their part and can now focus on preparing for the battle to come. Still, the circus has rolled into North America in a far more remarkable way than anything seen in recent years. Over 30,000 fans attended the Mexico City event, in as awesome a display of Canelomania as has yet been seen; all the tickets available for the fight—ranging in price from $350 to $2,000 before fees and taxes—have been sold; closed circuit seats are selling like pancakes in Vegas even at $100 a pop; and hotel and flight bookings are filling up fast.
Whether the spectacle offered by the bout itself justifies the pre-fight frenzy remains to be seen, but for now there’s little doubt the world of boxing is enjoying the most intense media campaign ever mounted in the modern history of the sport. –Rafael García