By hook or crook, Floyd picks right fight


Here’s the thing: The reason doesn’t matter.

Not if the pay-per-view numbers for his fight against Robert Guerrero were really a reported 870,000 and change, the lowest since he dismantled Ricky Hatton in 2007.

Not if the Showtime executives who are now signing his massive checks are worried that just one fight into a six-bout, $200 million-plus deal, his entertainment value might be waning a bit.

Not if all the enablers and hangers-on staged an intervention at the mansion and convinced him this was the best course of action.

Not if he awoke one morning a Belieber in taking on a guy who could be 20 pounds heavier when the bell goes off.

Not if a security guard at his gated community pleaded with him while ducking.

Doesn’t matter if any or all is true.

I don’t care how Floyd Mayweather Jr. got to the point of agreeing to oppose Canelo Alvarez on Sept. 14 at the MGM Grand Garden.

It’s only important that he has.

It is the fight everyone wants to see after the fight everyone waited years to see never happened.

The allure of Mayweather against Manny Pacquiao might still be strong enough to entice the passionate boxing fan and his niche neighbor to plunk down an excessive pay-per-view charge, but that matchup long ago morphed into a believe-it-when-we-see-it.

We might have a better chance of seeing Floyd Mayweather Sr. against Freddie Roach.

What we definitely will witness in September is two undefeated fighters at a catch-weight of 152 pounds, one the sport’s pound-for-pound king at age 36 and the other one of its brightest young stars at 22.

Their combined record: 86-0-1.

We will see Mayweather in a bit of unfamiliar terrain, facing neither an old and diminished opponent or one coming up in weight as Guerrero did last month to lose badly on points.

Alvarez walks around at 175 and could rehydrate on fight night to more than 20 pounds heavier than Mayweather, who wouldn’t know a walk-around of 165 if it came on a gold-plated scale.

What Alvarez definitely lacks in stamina late in fights, he could make up for early in strength and power.

There is the type of danger here for Mayweather that he hasn’t known in some time, certainly not as he hand-picked his way through such fading resumes the last three years as Shane Mosley and Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto.

But whatever the cause — the pressure of such a lucrative Showtime contract to produce memorable fights, the desire to silence critics who have often bashed his choice of opponents — Mayweather decided to take the opposite of an easy road this time.

“I have been at this 17 years and feel I have earned my stripes,” he said a few days before winning a unanimous decision against Guerrero. “If I want to pick and choose (opponents) at this point in my career, that’s my prerogative. I can if I want. Obviously I’ve done some things right to stay at this level for so long. I’m just going to stay positive and keep working hard.”

He might have final say on who stands opposite him in the ring, but Showtime/CBS wouldn’t make such a historic financial commitment and not have a strong voice at the negotiating table. The unimpressive pay-per-view numbers for the Guerrero fight cost the network money — some reports suggest upward of $12 million — and not even a fighter with Mayweather’s drawing power and influence can totally control TV executives in such matters.

The good news for everyone is, Mayweather-Alvarez has a chance to exist in the same zip code as the all-time pay-per-view record of 2.5 million buys for when Mayweather fought Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. The fight is over Mexican Independence Day weekend; Alvarez is a Mexican superstar.

It could and should be everything the Guerrero fight wasn’t.

It makes sense that Mayweather would oppose Alvarez now, before the months and years continue to pass and Father Time imposes his cruel reality on one of the most brilliant fighters in history.

It happens to everyone, even the greatest in sport.

I believe Mayweather beats Alvarez in September; I’m not sure he does so two Septembers from now.

But no matter the reason for it being staged this year, no matter what pressures came from what sides to make it happen, it’s not important.

The fight everyone wants to see has been made.

Translation: It’s one of those rare great days for boxing.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.