RingTV.com contributor Mark E. Ortega attended both the Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Canelo Alvarez media days this week, compiling the following notes on their anticipated mega-fight, now just two weeks away. Alvarez opened his camp in Big Bear to the media on Tuesday while Mayweather’s gym in Las Vegas was open the next day. Here are some notes from those two days.
Mayweather thinks Marquez had bigger following than Canelo
Though he is only 23 years old, there isn’t a fighter in Mexico with a bigger following than Saul Alvarez. Floyd Mayweather is no stranger to fighting a Mexican fighter during Mexican Independence Day weekend, but the thought to this writer is no previous opponent had the support of the country the way Alvarez will on Sept. 14.
When asked about it, Mayweather wasn’t sure he agreed.
“I don’t know of the Hispanic or Latino fighters, who have the biggest following,” said Mayweather. “But if I had to say so, I would probably say [Juan Manuel] Marquez, because he has accomplished more.
“He’s done a lot for the sport of boxing. I don’t really know if Canelo has a bigger following.”
There’s no doubt Mayweathee is correct in saying Marquez had a much better résumé when the two met in 2009. Marquez was the third best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport behind Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao at the time.
Still, it wasn’t Marquez who Mexicans were tuning in to watch at a monstrous rate when he fought. When Canelo fights, roughly a third of the population tunes in. With all the hoopla in Las Vegas during Mexican Independence Day, people from the country show up in droves. Also, Marquez didn’t connect with the female population the way Canelo does.
The only fighter who had that crossover appeal was Oscar De La Hoya, who fought Mayweather in 2007 on Cinco De Mayo weekend and helped grow Mayweather’s following with that historic fight.
Roger Mayweather argued that De La Hoya was bigger than Canelo is now when he fought Floyd.
“De La Hoya is the biggest thing in Spanish boxing,” argued Roger.
“Oscar won everything. Not only he won everything, he won (an Olympic) gold medal. He’s the most popular guy as far as people saying, ‘Oh, I know Oscar De La Hoya,’ most people won’t say they know the other guy.”
It is this writer’s thought that Sept. 14 will be the most hostile environment Mayweather has seen since emerging as the heel prior to facing De La Hoya. Alvarez’s support in Mexico is greater than it was for De La Hoya at any point. Many Mexicans didn’t like De La Hoya for the way he celebrated beating their faded hero, Julio Cesar Chavez. Alvarez, on the other hand, has overwhelming support from his country.
Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Eric Gomez agreed that Alvarez is bigger in Mexico than De La Hoya.
“He’s all four Beatles rolled into one,” said Gomez. “When Oscar was in his heights he was really big but Oscar made his living, made his career here in the States. This kid’s fought out there in Mexico while coming up, so they’ve been able to connect a little more.”
Mayweather nothing but positive, respectful when asked about Arum
A few weeks ago, many boxing rivalries were all underneath one roof when the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame had their inaugural induction on Aug. 10.
Perhaps no rivalry was greater than that between Mayweather Jr. and his former promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank. At the event, Mayweather had positive things to say about Arum for the first time I can recall since the two split a decade ago.
When asked if that signified a thaw in their conflict, Mayweather indicated he’s past making negative comments about others in the sport.
“I don’t have anything negative to say about anyone,” said Mayweather.
“I’m in a great position, I shouldn’t speak bad about no fighter. If you’re at the pinnacle of the sport, you’re the face of the sport, why talk bad about any promoter, any fighter?
“In the past, sometimes you say certain things that you don’t really mean,” continued Mayweather. “You say things out of anger no different than if two people are arguing, they say things sometimes that they don’t really mean. I wish Bob Arum nothing but the best, I wish Don King nothing but the best.”
Mayweather a “fighter’s promoter”
One thing that has become clear to this writer after making many appearances at the Mayweather Boxing Club is that, as a promoter, he is different from all the others.
Being a fighter himself, Mayweather has endured struggles of his career being in the hands of someone else and has thrived since becoming his own boss. It’s no coincidence that Mayweather has landed the sport’s biggest pay days only since going on his own.
As a promoter, he’s made sure that this formula is replicated. His fighters constantly tell me that Mayweather takes care of them in ways they never were with other promoters. Not just professionally, but personally.
For instance, when J’Leon Love lost his brother tragically earlier in the year, Mayweather stepped in and helped with the cost of the funeral. Other fighters have told me he’s given them cash to help them when they’ve hit a rough patch. Other promoters give out money in these kinds of circumstances, but usually label it as an advance, meaning the money needs to be paid back.
In an American boxing scene that often underappreciates and under promotes African-American boxers, this writer asked Mayweather whether he feels he can fill that void given his crossover appeal with that demographic.
“It’s not a black thing or a white thing, it’s the right thing,” Mayweather said poetically.
“Under the Mayweather banner, I have fighters from all different nationalities. I’m doing a great thing for the sport and I truly believe in the fighter winning when it’s all said and done.”
Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe thinks Mayweather’s experiences as he climbed the ranks are a major reason he’s become a fighter’s promoter.
“Him being a fighter himself, it’s always going to have an impact because he understands both sides of things,” said Ellerbe.
Being the top draw in the sport has been nothing but beneficial to his stable of fighters. Showtime’s love affair with Mayweather since their deal came together has paid off major dividends in terms of getting his guys exposure and opportunities on the network.
It’s easy to argue that Ishe Smith probably wouldn’t have ever been featured on Showtime the past few years were it not for the connection to Mayweather. J’Leon Love is another fighter whose career was given a major boost when he was taken under Mayweather’s wing.
Would Ashley Theophane be fighting on the pay-per-view portion of the big show on Sept. 14 if it weren’t for him signing with Mayweather just a few weeks ago?
As a fan, you appreciate what Mayweather is doing as a promoter because they don’t coddle their fighters. As Ishe Smith once said, “Floyd leads us to the door but it’s up to us to bust it open.”
Theophane fights Pablo Cesar Cano in a fight that could go either way. Smith’s first defense is against the capable and underappreciated contender Carlos Molina. Love’s fight on May’s PPV undercard was against the rugged Gabriel Rosado. Mickey Bey’s first ShoBox headlining bout was against hard-punching John Molina (he lost). Young super middleweight Luis Arias hasn’t faced anyone with a losing record. Fellow super middleweight Badou Jack faces former title challenger Marco Antonio Periban two days before the big show on Fox Sports in a fight that isn’t the main event and easily could be. The list goes on.
Canelo says sparring partners couldn’t hang
One topic of heavy discussion the past week on social media was that Saul Alvarez had reportedly sent home a bunch of sparring partners because they were getting hurt.
Things heated up when Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe laughed at the idea and saw it as some sort of ploy.
Ellerbe’s tweet from a week ago:
@LEllerbe: This cat say he sent 8 guys home from his camp! Stop it @caneloOficial. You don’t have to lie to kick it! #theone
At the Canelo media day, I asked Alvarez about the sparring partner report and asked him to clarify what went on.
“They can’t hang, simple as that,” Alvarez said through Gomez.
“We’ve had some sparring that left,” Alvarez’s trainer Jose Reynoso said through Fightnews writer Miguel Maravilla.
“We’ve had about four that left. You bring in the caliber of fighters they are and put them against a bull like Canelo, the work is harder. For them, they couldn’t keep up with the work.”
Gomez confirmed it was true about sparring partners being sent home. When asked for names, Gomez laughed and said I was trying to get him in trouble.
When asked about it at Wednesday’s media day, Ellerbe brushed it off, saying we all know there’s no way he sent home that many sparring partners and it is what it is.
Photos / Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos / Golden Boy