By David Robinett
Photo: Esther Lim/SHOWTIME
The scheduled 11-city, two-country press tour to promote the September 14, 2013, mega-fight between Floyd “Money” Mayweather, (44-0, 26 KOs), and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, (42-0-1, 30 KOs), concluded Tuesday night at Nokia Plaza at L.A. LIVE in downtown Los Angeles in front of a mostly pro-Canelo crowd of several thousand enthusiastic fans. However, if Tuesday’s press conference was a sign of things to come, the young upstart from Mexico is going to have his work cut out for him, as Mayweather scored a TKO in the battle of the podium, brushing aside his undefeated challenger while landing some stinging verbal jabs on Canelo’s mentor and promotional backer Oscar de la Hoya.
The press conference started harmlessly enough, with Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer and Showtime Sports Executive Vice President & General Manager Stephen Espinoza offering the usual platitudes about the importance of this fight and expectations of new pay-per-view records. Schaefer spared no hyperbole about his young star, referring to Canelo as “the Mexican James Dean” and predicting a passing of the torch from the reigning pound-for-pound king Mayweather to the up-and-coming Alvarez.
However things really picked up when Oscar de la Hoya took the dais.
“After traveling eleven cities with Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and after traveling with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, the fighter, the champion, the hero, the people’s champion from Mexico, now I believe that this fight will be the best fight in the history of the sport,” said de la Hoya, with a promoter’s typical bravado. “I know for sure that Mayweather will bring his ‘A’ game. As always he will be in great shape. He will bring everything to the table. But I am convinced, convinced that Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez will win on September 14th.”
Up to this point, Mayweather seemed only mildly interested in the proceedings, focusing most of his attention on his young daughter who accompanied him on stage along with her two siblings and Mayweather’s mother. But it was Oscar’s next line that suddenly got the champion’s attention.
“Now, I’d like to introduce boxing’s biggest star, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez!”
Mayweather’s eyes widened and he nearly did a double-take at de la Hoya’s pronouncement. Mayweather then sat patiently as Canelo made some brief comments in Spanish that were translated for the crowd.
“In all the cities we’ve been to, the support has been incredible,” said Canelo to his throngs of supporters before him. “In boxing, everybody has their time, and this is my time. I’m going to train hard and win, and on September 14th, I’m not the only one that’s going to win, we’re all going to win together.”
Finally Mayweather took the dais, starting with his patented chant of “Hard Work! Dedication!” directed at his small group of supporters embedded in the pro-Canelo crowd. He then proceeded to deconstruct his former ring rival de la Hoya and future challenger Alvarez.
“I’m truly blessed to be where I’m at, I couldn’t do it without a tremendous team,” stated Mayweather, thanking various individuals before getting to Golden Boy Promotions. “I can’t really speak about Oscar, but Richard Schaefer is Golden Boy [Promotions].” The crowd audibly gasped in response, both at Mayweather’s audacity as well as de la Hoya’s visibly annoyed reaction, as Schaefer smiled sheepishly behind them.
Mayweather then turned his attention to Canelo.
“Canelo is a young, strong champion. Mayweather loves Mexico. I’m going to continue to work hard and dedicate myself to my craft,” said Mayweather, before shifting gears. “And I just sit back and think about it at night, you know, when I think about certain fighters, people say ‘Mayweather, you know you’re facing Canelo?’ And I say, ‘Yeah, but can you tell me just ten world champions he beat? Just ten?’ That’s all I ask.”
Mayweather continued, “You know what? I’ve been sitting on the top of the throne for 17 years. Everytime they get a guy, they build him up. And you know what I do?” Mayweather then held up one hand and smacked it with his other hand in response to his own question.
Mayweather wasn’t through yet. “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,” said Mayweather sardonically, before turning to de la Hoya and emphasizing, “He’s such a big star, Oscar.”
Mayweather concluded his remarks with one last dig at de la Hoya.
“And you know, as I sit back here and I think, you know Oscar…you know what, you might as well call me the Golden Boy because I beat everybody on your whole crew. I’m young, I’m fly, I’m flashy, I’m rich. Damn, life is good! See you September 14th.” And with those final remarks, Mayweather returned to his seat on stage leading to one last awkward moment where, in closing the proceedings, Schaefer emphasized that de la Hoya was the President of Golden Boy Promotions, which had the unintended effect of reinforcing Mayweather’s earlier comments.
By press conference standards, Tuesday’s event may not have been one for the history books, but Floyd Mayweather spiced things up a bit by going after both Canelo and Oscar de la Hoya. In doing so, Mayweather did boxing fans a favor and added even more intrigue to what already promises to be the most-anticipated North American fight in the past few years. “The One: Mayweather vs. Canelo” is scheduled to be a 12-round fight for the WBC and WBA welterweight titles on Saturday, September 14, 2013, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, produced and distributed by Showtime PPV.