An estimated 125,000 fans turned out in 10 cities over nine days to basically see two fighters engaged in a stare down. In Mexico City alone, 35,000 souls turned out. P.T. Barnum would be amazed. But what is up?
The Golden Boy Promotions tour for this Showtime Pay Per View event on Sept. 14th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, billed as “The One,” culminated in downtown Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE. The two-country excursion turned out to be a barnstorming phenomenon which validated the overwhelming interest in the upcoming bout between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
In case you don’t pay much attention to popular culture south of the border, Alvarez is most popular thing in Mexico since the “Macarena.”
This tour was supposed to be 11 cities over nine days, but the tragic death of 19 firefighters in Arizona appropriately cancelled the Phoenix stop.
Showtime’s Executive Vice President and General Manager for sports programming, Stephen Espinoza, noted “Richard tried to set a record, but we came up short.”
Espinoza was referring to Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who is a cyclone in the sport of boxing these days. It is a rare occasion he sleeps in his own bed.
How do I know this? His wife Lilia told me last month in Carson, Calif. And she should know. I asked her if the man is crazy or simply possessed.
“Richard loves this,” she said. “He lives for this.”
Schaefer looked a bit drained on the stage in L.A. but didn’t miss a carnival barker’s beat. Espinoza admitted this was a tough grind, to say the least. “We’re all a bit sick of one another right now,” said Espinoza with a laugh.
But they will be feeling just dandy by the time the fight rolls around. The venue sold out in less than 24 hours. The cheapest ticket was $350.00. The closed circuit telecast sales have set a record.
Now, there’s talk about reaching into the pay-per-view stratosphere. Can they approach the 2.5 million buys generated by the Oscar de la Hoya/Mayweather match up in 2007?
Hard to predict, but there was a media scrum around the event we have not seen since the Mike Tyson circus was rolling around the country. An hour before the L.A. event, the queue to pick up media credentials looked like the TSA lines at McCarran International Airport in Vegas on a Sunday.
To sum it all up, let us go to the foremost boxing publicist ever, and the closest entity to a living and breathing pugilistic encyclopedia, the legendary Bill Caplan. In reference to the media horde and the throngs of fans in downtown L.A., Caplan said, “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
That’s good enough for me. Now we shall see if “The One,” turns out to be “The Biggest One.”
Photo / Esther Lin-SHOWTIME
Alan Massengale is an Emmy award-winning sports caster, who has done hundreds broadcasts for boxing, his favorite sport. Follow him on Twitter @AlanMassengale1