Canelo Alvarez still has much to prove in the ring, but there is little question that outside of it, the WBC super welterweight champion is one of the sport's biggest attractions. The 22-year-old Mexican ranks with Julio Cesar Chavez and Adrien Broner as the sport's top under-30 attractions.
Alvarez has dreamed for more than a year of a match with Floyd Mayweather Jr., and seemed a perfect fit as Mayweather's opponent for the pound-for-pound king's planned Sept. 14 fight. That is Mexican Independence Day weekend and promoters always try to place a Mexican star on a major card in Las Vegas to leverage the influx of Mexican tourists.
Alvarez, though, lost a standoff with Mayweather. He'd agreed to face WBA champion Austin Trout, and was willing to do it on May 4 as the chief undercard bout to Mayweather's welterweight title fight on Showtime pay-per-view at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with Robert Guerrero.
In return, Alvarez wanted a written guarantee that he'd get Mayweather on Sept. 14. When Mayweather refused to give that, Alvarez opted to headline his own date.
He'll face Trout in a battle of unbeaten champions in a WBA-WBC unification bout on April 20 in San Antonio on Showtime.
"Canelo said he wouldn't fight on the May 4 undercard unless he had a written contract to fight Floyd [in the fall], assuming he won and assuming Floyd beat Guerrero," Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said. "Floyd told us he didn't have a problem fighting Canelo, but he wasn't going to sign anything now. He said, 'All of my focus is on Guerrero,' and I'm not signing anything to fight anybody until after that fight is over.
"Canelo feels he's his own man and can carry his own event. He knows there are people who doubt him and, I agree with you, it's a risky fight for him. But this is what Canelo wants. He is his own boss and we do what the fighters want."
Alvarez unquestionably would have given a boost to the May 4 card. The fight card is on Cinco de Mayo and is another Las Vegas date that traditionally has a major Hispanic presence. Alvarez is so popular among Mexicans and Mexican-Americans that it is not out of the question that he could have added another 200,000 or 250,000 buys to Mayweather's pay-per-view totals.
At $65 per pop over an additional 200,000 buys, that would have been another $13 million in the kitty, which is nothing to sneeze at.
The decision to put Alvarez on a separate date carries risk for both Alvarez and Mayweather.
First, Alvarez is fighting a very difficult opponent in Trout and he is far from a guarantee to win. Normally, fighters like Alvarez who are on the brink of a mega-payday against someone like Mayweather don't want to risk it by taking a tough fight first.
In addition, Alvarez will lose some of the media exposure he would have gotten had had fought on Mayweather's card. The media turnout in San Antonio will be lucky to be a fifth of what it will be for Mayweather's show on May 4.
It carries risk for Mayweather, too, however. With Alvarez off the card, the interest from the Mexicans and Mexican-Americans will be slightly less. If the Mayewather-Guerrero fight did 1.25 million, say, which seems to be a fairly good guesstimate, and it would have done 1.5 million with Canelo-Trout headlining the undercard, that's a massive chunk of money that will be missing from Mayweather's pot.
But good for both of them. In the long run, Alvarez opted to take a difficult fight to prove he's worthy of a shot at the best. And Mayweather is doing what professionals do and focusing solely on the task at hand and not looking ahead to other opponents.
Because of the Alvarez-Trout show on April 20, though, Schaefer he'll move the featherweight title fight between Daniel Ponce de Leon and Abner Mares to sometime in May, possibly May 18.
Golden Boy will have two solid shows on Showtime in the two weeks preceding the Mayweather-Guerrero card in order to help promote it. In addition to Alvarez-Trout on April 20 (which will also include a Mayweather-based All-Access preview show), Golden Boy is promoting an April 27 card headlined by Danny Garcia and Zab Judah on Showtime.
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