THE RING’s No. 1-rated pound-for-pound boxer, Floyd Mayweather Jr., broke the news himself on his Twitter account on Wednesday night, naming RING junior middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez — a man who is 12 years younger than he is — as his opponent for Sept. 14 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Showtime Pay Per View.
“I chose my opponent for September 14th and it’s Canelo Alvarez,” Mayweather Tweeted. “I’m giving the fans what they want. It will be at the MGM Grand.”
“We worked on it day and night. On Monday, when everybody was doing their barbecues for Memorial Day, I was working on that fight all day long,” said Schaefer.
“This was a fight which was important to Canelo, and it was important to Floyd, and we found a way to get it done. Everybody doubted that we could get it done.”
Having turned 36 in February, and ending a nearly one-year ring absence with a one-sided unanimous decision over Robert Guerrero for the RING’s 147-pound championship on May 4, Mayweather (44-0, 26 knockouts) could be facing his most dangerous opponent in Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs), a 22-year-old Mexican star whose unanimous decision victory over previously unbeaten Austin Trout in April marked the biggest win of his career.
“People didn’t think that Floyd was going to fight somebody as good, and as young and as strong as Canelo, and people doubted that Canelo wanted to take him on,” said Schaefer.
“But against all odds, we got it done, and we knew that it was the fight that everybody wanted. Floyd always wants to fight the best, and Canelo, when it comes to 154 (pounds), is the best.”
In Alvarez, who turns 23 in July, Mayweather is fighting a young rival who is supremely confident.
“I wanted that fight with Trout very badly, and I won that fight. Now I’m in the same situation that I was with Trout. So now I think that the most important thing for me in this fight is going to be the preparation. I’m going to work very hard like never before so that I can win this fight, and I’m going to be victorious. I’m going to win this fight. I’m going to be victorious after preparing myself very well,” Alvarez said during an interview with RingTV.com.
“This is the fight that I was looking for, and it’s the fight that I wanted…I consider myself a fast fighter, and I consider myself to be an intelligent fighter. I’m very similar to Floyd, and you know that he’s fast and he’s intelligent. But the difference is that I’m bigger and I’m stronger, and I’m going to construct a game plan with my team so that I can be able to beat him…Now I know that there are going to be doubters, but I feel that I’m going to come up with the right game plan and that I will be able to beat him.”
Prior to facing Guerrero, Mayweather fought for only the second time as a junior middleweight, scoring a unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto last May that earned him the WBA’s “super” belt.
Although Mayweather is facing Alvarez at a catchweight of 152 pounds, he is, nevertheless, rising to challenge a junior middleweight for the third time in his career, and he is doing so at his most advanced age.
None of that matters to Mayweather, said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions.
“Boxing is the risk-taking business, depending upon who is taking the risks. Floyd Mayweather is a winner, and Floyd’s made it clear that this is who he wanted to fight. Floyd is not deterred by the critics at all. Floyd’s been proving people wrong all of his career. That’s become the norm. He’s the best athlete in all of sports, and he’s been the most dominant athlete in all of sports. He cares about himself, his family and his fans. Come the night of Sept. 14, this will be another notch on his belt,” said Ellerbe.
“Floyd said that after he took care of business with Guerrero, that he would be coming back on Sept. 14. Floyd is the top dog in the sport, and he’s been the top dog for Day One. This guy has to come out and show why he thinks that he’s the best. It’ll be a tremendous fight. Obviously, this is the biggest fight in all of boxing, and it’s going to be a tremendous promotion between two great fighters. The fans are in for a great fight. I think this the biggest fight that could possibly be made for the sport and the entertainment and business worlds will stop and watch these two guys go at it. It’s a tremendous fight for the fans. The fight speaks for itself.”
The first time Mayweather competed in the 154-pound division was against Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya, whom he dethroned for the WBC’s junior middleweight belt in May of 2007.
De La Hoya told RingTV.com during a January interview that a match up between Mayweather and Alvarez could surpass the record numbers drawn by his split-decision loss to Mayweather, which holds the all-time pay-per-view record with more than 2.5 million buys.
“I have no doubt. This is as big as it gets. When we did De La Hoya against Mayweather, it did $2.5 million homes. So this one here has Floyd Mayweather, who is much bigger now than when he fought Oscar,” said Schaefer.
“And you have Canelo, who is attracted 40,000 people to San Antonio [to face Trout,] so this is truly the biggest fight. This is the one. This is the fight which will break all records.”
Against Alvarez, Mayweather will be fighting twice within the same year for the first time since 2007, when he defeated both De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, the latter, by 10th-round stoppage in December of that year for the first loss of Hatton’s career.
Mayweather ended a 21-month ring absence when he unanimously decisioned Juan Manuel Marquez in September of 2009.
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]