Boxing draws comics, singers for busy Mexican Independence Day weekend


Wish you could be at the Mayweather/Alvarez fight instead of watching it on pay-per-view?

Let Carlos Mencia cheer you up.

What about Enrique Iglesias, who probably can find his way in if he drops hints such as this one he emailed to us: “A lot of people who know me well, know that I’m not a big fan of being in the spotlight, and on red carpets and such. Having said that, if I did go see a match, it would be incredible to be right up there in the 3rd or 4th row.”

Let Mencia talk him out of it.

The comedian has been to other big boxing events that have become the centerpiece of Mexican Independence Day celebrations on the Strip. He can fire off a few reasons why he could be among the sold-out crowd that paid a collective $19.1 million for tickets to Saturday’s sold-out bout between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez, but probably won’t be.

1. He’d miss his drunken buddies falling down stairs. Whenever Mencia plays Las Vegas, as he does Friday at Treasure Island, everyone he knows shows up. “The first year I started going regularly to Vegas, I realized, that’s just the way it is.”

But he would only get a pair of fight tickets, and “there will be 80 people who are offended.” Plus, “What I miss out on is bigger than (the fight). It’s all of us together. They have these stories of all this stuff that went down,” like said friend who stumbled down some steps. “We were all so drunk, we had no idea he was bleeding until we got to the room: ‘Oh my God, look at your head.’ ”

Luckily, the injuries did not cross that fine line between slapstick and tragedy. “No stitches required.”

2. This fight will rival the Academy Awards when it comes to celebrity placement for crowd shots, so where you sit is important.

“In our business, perception is reality. So I gotta worry about that. ‘What kind of tickets did you get? Are they close enough that it puts me in a good light?’ Or is it like, ‘Whoa! What happened to Carlos’ career?’ ”

3. Loyalties, and the delicate issue of whether a comedian born in Honduras can root for Mayweather, when Alvarez’s Mexican heritage balances his drawing power (more than 25,000 people have already ponied up to watch the bout on closed-circuit onsite at the MGM Grand).

“I’m gonna bet with my brain and not my heart,” Mencia says. “I’m not gonna play those games with myself. In my lifetime, (Mayweather) is the best fighter I’ve ever seen.” Therefore, “I’ve gotta worry when the black guy punches the Mexican guy, so that the people next to me who happen to be Mexican don’t punch me in the face for betraying my race.

“It’s too complicated!”

Iglesias apparently agrees. “Can I predict a tie?” the singer writes in his email, followed by a “LOL.”

“I know it would mean a lot to all the Mexicans if El Canelo won. However, Mayweather has been doing great lately, so it should be quite an interesting match.”

Less divisive is the 20-plus-year-old confluence of two events that could fill up the Strip independently. Mexican Independence Day (Monday) was taking root as a collective event on the Strip, gradually ramping up from crossover headliners such as Julio Iglesias and Vikki Carr, by the time a fighter named Julio Cesar Chavez came along.

In 1990, The Mirage put up a boxinglike outdoor structure and faux Mexican village to host singer Juan Gabriel, a sign of how defined the holiday weekend had become in just a few years. The next year found Mirage fans just as happy watching Chavez pummel Lonnie Smith for 12 rounds.

But the watershed came in 1992, with the Thomas &Mack Center selling out nearly 18,000 seats faster than any other bout in Las Vegas history for Chavez versus Hector Camacho. That weekend saw Mexican stars such as Vicente Fernandez performing alongside Las Vegas stars of the day, such as Tom Jones and Wayne Newton.

The tradition carried on through the years, with boxers who excited the Spanish-speaking world — from Oscar De La Hoya to Mayweather opponent Juan Manuel Marquez being the centerpiece of a party weekend.

“You can feel that environment,” Mencia says of being one such peripheral attraction. “It’s very blatant and in your face,” including chants from the audience that “only people in Mexico, not even from Mexico say.”

The Chavez-Camacho year of 1992 also brought Luis Miguel to Caesars Palace. Then just 22, the crooner is still keeping his Mexican Independence weekend tradition going by playing the Colosseum at Caesars Palace at age 43 Friday through Sunday, going mano a mano with the fight Saturday.

If Julio Iglesias was early to the Las Vegas party by playing the original Caesars showroom in 1988, his son Enrique is the star of a poolside show at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Sunday. And Alejandro Fernandez, son of Vicente, keeps the family tradition going Sunda at the MGM Grand Garden.

Other weekend highlights (see the Neon listings for complete time and ticket information):

■ Comedian Gabriel Iglesias — the one not confused with Enrique, because he answers to “Fluffy” for his fans, is back for stand-up at The Mirage for three nights Friday through Sunday.

■ Ladies won’t have to worry about competing with J-Lo when ex-spouse Marc Anthony salsas through The Pearl at the Palms on Friday.

■ Marco Antonio Solis played the Las Vegas Hilton in 2007, but soon moved up to the level of an arena draw, making Mandalay Bay Events Center his holiday home most years since 2009. He sings there again on Friday, co-billed with Lupita D’Alessio.

■ Outside on the beach stage at Mandalay Bay, Los Horoscopos de Durango get the party shakin’ with Vicky and Marisol Terrazas on Saturday.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

 

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