MAYWEATHER VS. ALVAREZ: Dream fight nears reality

There are probably 1,000 differences between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. But the biggest difference might be this: Alvarez believes he can beat Mayweather, and Mayweather knows he will beat Alvarez tonight at the MGM Grand Garden.

“He’s not beating me,” Mayweather said of their 152-pound title fight, which has produced record numbers before the first bell sounds. “Canelo’s got 42 fights (actually 43), and I got 44 fights. But I got a lot more experience.”

Mayweather (44-0, 26 knockouts) has been relaxed throughout the promotion. At times, he’ll launch a discussion over which fast-food hamburger is better. Or he’ll talk about his fleet of cars.

But he never lacks confidence. And he fully intends to build on the momentum of his convincing May 4 beat-down of Robert Guerrero and add to his Hall of Fame legacy.

“I worked my ass off to get here,” Mayweather said. “I’m dedicated to my craft. I’m the last of my breed. I earned it from the beginning.

“Sometimes they say, ‘Floyd Mayweather’s opponents were handpicked.’ If they say these guys were handpicked, they were handpicked to make $40 and $50 and $60 million. Then you know what? Keep handpicking them. If they’re going to keep paying, keep handpicking them.”

Tonight’s 12-round fight, which is for Alvarez’s WBC junior middleweight belt and Mayweather’s WBA 154-pound title, will be contested at 152 pounds. Alvarez said it was the only way he could get the fight, so he accepted Mayweather’s terms.

“It’s what’s called having a competitive advantage,” said Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather’s co-manager and CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “Anytime you can get an edge, you take it.”

Both fighters made weight Friday at the Grand Garden, which attracted a crowd of 12,200, some of whom had camped out overnight to get in, only to be shooed away by MGM security. Fans were in line as early as 7 a.m. once they were allowed to line up. Mayweather weighed 150½ and Alvarez 152.

Mayweather bristled at the notion that Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs) is boxing’s next big thing.

“Canelo, he’s not the future,” he said. “He’s still going to be a star. He’s still going to sell pay per views. But in a fight like this, I’m not losing.”

Boxing doesn’t figure to lose tonight, either. The numbers surrounding the fight are staggering.

It starts with Mayweather, who is guaranteed a minimum of $41.5 million and could make almost double that depending on the Showtime Pay Per View buys. Alvarez’s purse is $5 million, but it is believed he will make closer to $12 million.

The live gate already has reached a record $20,003,151. The previous record in Nevada was $18,419,200 when Mayweather fought Oscar De La Hoya in 2007 at the Grand Garden. That fight also generated a record $136 million in gross revenues.

“I can say with confidence this will be the highest-grossing boxing event of all time. We will break the record of $136 million from when Floyd fought Oscar,” Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer said. Golden Boy promotes Alvarez and has worked with Mayweather on his past seven fights.

Schaefer has spent more than $60 million on the promotion, and it appears he will recoup his investment and then some.

“As an old banker, I don’t want to count the money until it’s in the bank,” he said. “But the way things are tracking, we’re looking at record numbers across the board.”

And it’s mainly because of Mayweather, who at age 36 remains a somewhat polarizing figure. Yes, he has his fans, and, yes, he has crossover appeal beyond boxing. But he is reviled by many, and a lot of those people will tune in on Showtime hoping to see him get beat.

In addition, Alvarez enjoys rock star status in his native Mexico and has built a huge and loyal fan base at age 23.

Mayweather wasn’t sure that the moment might be too big for his opponent.

“We don’t really know; we’ll have to see how the fight plays out,” Mayweather said. “But I truly believe there’s a lot of pressure on Canelo.”

Mayweather chuckled at Alvarez’s comment that he has his game plan in place and is ready for anything.

“There’s 1,000 ways I can beat a guy,” Mayweather said. “If he’s got a game plan for all that, more power to him.”

As for his own game plan, Mayweather said it will be business as usual.

“You can’t fight every fight the same,” he said. “Every fight is different. We’ll see what Canelo brings early in the fight, and we’ll take it from there.

“I can’t predict the future. I’m not Dionne Warwick. All I can predict is on Sept. 14, I’m going to beat Canelo.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter @stevecarprj.

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