If Friday's raucous weigh-in at the Las Vegas MGM Grand was any indication, Saturday's mega-fight between Floyd "Money" Mayweather and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez will be a wild and strange event.
That they both made the catch-weight of 152 pounds -- Alvarez on the button and Mayweather at 150 1/2 -- was almost secondary to the actions and reactions of about 12,000 in attendance at the brief, but dramatic, ceremony.
Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 knockouts), a 23-year-old hero in Mexico and beyond with Latin boxing fans, drew the loudest cheers when he entered and was introduced in Spanish by famed ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. Mayweather (44-0, 26 knockouts), the controversial 36-year-old five-time champion and acknowledged pound-for-pound king who lives and trains in Las Vegas, heard a distinct mixture of boos as he walked to the scales flashing a wide, toothy smile and chewing pink gum.
During the traditional, face-to-face stare-down following the weigh-in, Mayweather continued to chew his gum through an open-mouthed smile and was chatty while Alvarez stared back in silence with a straight face, although he seemed to stifle a grin.
When Mayweather attempted to get Alvarez to hold a title belt between them for a photo-op, Alvarez would have none of it and ignored his animated opponent in a manner that showed he seemed unaffected by the magnitude of the moment and, perhaps more significantly, Mayweather himself.
Then, during a post weigh-in interview with Showtime's Jim Grey that was broadcast in the arena, Alvarez displayed a little of his own showtime when, after answering previous questions through an interpreter, he listened to Grey's final query -- "Canelo, are you ready?" -- and for the first time the Mexican champion responded directly and in perfect English.
"I was born ready," he said, igniting a loud response from the crowd.
Mayweather, as loose in interviews as he is agile in the ring, avoided fueling any further controversy by politely and lightly dismissing the words and actions of Alvarez, although not without sending his own message.
"This is a big event, what can I say. ... The turnout was truly amazing, the biggest weigh-in in the history of the sport," Mayweather told Grey. "Me and my dad, we had a tremendous training camp. We are ready to fight. What else can I say?"
Grey, never known to be shy, took that as an opening and countered by asking Mayweather about Alvarez refusing to interact with him.
"You know how these young kids are," Mayweather said. "Tomorrow I go out there and entertain the kid."
Somewhat lost in the circus atmosphere was the importance of the weigh-in itself. Making 152 was no sweat for Mayweather, who is a natural 147-pounder who is a workout maniac even between fights and rarely gains much weight. Alvarez holds a couple of 154-pound championships -- which are on the line in this fight. And, as a growing young boxer, he appears destined to be moving up closer to a 168-pound boxing weight.
In some prefight drama this week, Alvarez claimed that Mayweather's camp originally demanded the fight be at an unreasonable 147 pounds and he needed to negotiate a compromise catch-weight to make it happen. Mayweather's manager, Leonard Ellerbe, not only denied that claim, but called Alvarez's managers "idiots."
"They're the ones who said they would fight at a lower weight," Ellerbe said. "We can't help it Alvarez has idiots for managers, but we're going to take every advantage they give us."
Former champion Sugar Shane Mosley is one of only two boxers who have faced both Mayweather (2010) and Alvarez (2012). Mosley lost to both by exactly the same margin as the victors took 11 rounds on two cards and 10 on the other in unanimous decisions. They both also faced Argentine Carlos Manuel Baldomir, with Alvarez scoring a sixth-round knockout in 2010; four years after Mayweather beat him in a unanimous, 12-round decision.
This is Mosley's take on the two fighters: "Mayweather will beat you with speed. He might cheap-shot you. He does all things necessary to win a fight. You can underestimate Canelo Alvarez because of his baby face, thinking this guy can't be on the same level, and he can fool you. He does have a lot of speed and the sort of power that Mayweather hasn't seen in a few years."
Vegas oddsmakers give Mayweather a 2 1/2-to-1 edge, the shortest odds for Mayweather in years.
The card will also feature a highly-anticipated 140-pound title unification fight between Philadelphia's Danny Garcia (26-0, 16 knockouts) and flashy Argentinean knockout artist Lucas Matthysse (34-2, 32 knockouts).
The show costs a hefty $74.95 on pay-for-view, which is expected to bring in between $150 million and $200 million. The live gate will be $20 million and tickets were so hot that celebrities who usually get a free pass were required to pay. Ringside seats with a face value of $2,000 are reportedly being offered by scalpers for close to $30,000.
All of this verifies why Mayweather's nickname is "Money," and he is cashing in with $41.5 million guaranteed, before pay-for-view is considered.