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Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez bout gets boxing off canvas

The quality and edginess of the Sept. 14 fight in Las Vegas should fire up the fan base in a sport that is in the doldrums.

May 31, 2013|Bill Dwyre
  • Floyd Mayweather Jr. reacts after defeating Robert Guerrero by unanimous decision in a WBC welterweight title fight.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. reacts after defeating Robert Guerrero by unanimous… (Isaac Brekken / Associated…)

Come to find out, boxing is about to get back to boxing.

Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr., will fight Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in Las Vegas on Sept. 14. This time, pre-fight talk may actually include some substance. Every fight is always "going to be great." This one might be.

The tone will be set when Mayweather and his father, Floyd Sr., start spouting and pouting. This is a train-wreck family.

No need to nudge the public to get excited. Emotions will not have to be encouraged. Five minutes after Golden Boy Promotions announced Wednesday night that the fight had been made, countless fans had their side picked. In a poll, seven librarians in Greenland said they didn't care. Everywhere else, hands went up for one corner or the other.

The cliche works best here. For boxing, this fight is a perfect storm.

Start with the ethnic rooting interest.

Mayweather is African American; Alvarez is Mexican. In boxing, those are fighting words. That alone might propel this fight past the all-time record of pay-per-view buys, the 2.525 million sold when Mayweather beat Oscar De La Hoya six years ago.

Then throw in the obvious contrasts.

Mayweather always talks trash. He probably threatens the shower curtain. Alvarez still struggles to speak English, so if he talks trash, much of the audience doesn't know it. Mayweather has a big smile and a menacing scowl. Alvarez has red hair and freckles.

Their fight history, contrasting styles and statistical comparisons add greatly to this.

Mayweather is unbeaten and reminds you of that only when he talks. His 44-0 includes 26 knockouts. Alvarez is unbeaten and his 42-0-1 includes 30 knockouts. Mayweather is 36, Alvarez 22. They will fight at a catchweight of 152 pounds. Mayweather is most comfortable at 147, Alvarez at 154.

Mayweather is never out of shape, even between fights, and his weight seldom surpasses 160. Alvarez, the bigger man, may balloon to as much as 170 for fight night, the day after the weigh-in.

Mayweather is a defensive genius. He's like trying to hit a lightning bug — when it's lit. Alvarez is a bulldozer, always moving forward. Whatever he connects with usually crumbles. To date, nobody has made Mayweather crumble.

Finally, there is the biggest driver of interest in this fight. Hate.

Many fans will want Mayweather to lose. Some will be kneeling in church with hands together in prayer, lighting candles and asking a higher power for a broken jaw and a 10-count.

Mayweather's ranting and chest-thumping are legendary. Also off-putting. Some is ego-driven, some born of a wonderfully instinctive understanding of what sells a fight. He is not the highest-paid athlete in the world without reason.

He markets obnoxious behavior like Campbell's markets soup. It is his brand. Sadly, he also has practiced what he spews. He spent time in jail last summer after roughing up his former girlfriend, the mother of his children.

Alvarez is one of eight children — his six brothers once fought on the same boxing card. He acquired his nickname because his manager and advisor, knowing he was taunted as a child for his red hair and freckles, wanted a friendlier, softer image. So Alvarez became Canelo, or cinnamon.

Golden Boy's chief executive, Richard Schaefer, closed the deal around 8 p.m. Wednesday, clearing the final hurdle with an agreement on a fight weight.

"Canelo was here, in L.A., in our office," Schaefer said. "I knew it was close, so I flew him in. I was talking on the phone to Al Haymon [Mayweather's advisor] and he was talking to Floyd, who was driving.

"When I told Canelo we had the deal, he had goose bumps on his arms. He gave me a hug."

A big part of boxing went down for a long count when Manny Pacquiao took the shot from Juan Manuel Marquez last December and needed smelling salts. Now, we seem to be destined to watch Pacquiao fight in China, where his promoter, Bob Arum, is seeking to mine new boxing gold.

"Our focus is on boxing in the U.S., the greatest country in the world," said Schaefer, smacking down Arum.

Well before Pacquiao went down — after also losing a bizarre judges' decision last year to Tim Bradley — the sport was wallowing in muck, even more than usual.

There were drug suspensions for the likes of Andre Berto, Lamont Peterson and Julio Chavez Jr. The heavyweight division, a.k.a. the Klitschko brothers, fights almost exclusively in Europe. Perhaps the most-skilled fighter in the world, Andre Ward, is primarily seen in a tuxedo at ringside, microphone in hand. Sergio Martinez goes home to fight, fills a soccer stadium in Argentina and then nearly loses. Shane Mosley makes a comeback and we kneel in prayer.

Schaefer, De La Hoya and Golden Boy have clearly pitched a save for their sport with this one.

So let the anger, hate, ethnic taunts, overblown egos, foolish braggadocio and unfiltered hype begin.

Boxing's back.

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