MEXICO CITY -- It has been 21 years since the epic battle between Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. and Hector Camacho, but if memory serves, it's the only thing here that can compare to the current phenomenon of Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez. Just as it was for J.C.-Macho more than two decades ago, Floyd-Canelo is virtually the only thing being talked about in Mexico today.
Some of this can be attributed to the country's national soccer team, the biggest attraction in Mexican sports, which hasn't produced the expected results in the Confederations Cup or Gold Cup and is struggling to clinch a place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
"Maybe it's not the best fight in history," said Jose Sulaiman, the WBC president whose organization will award the Mayweather-Alvarez winner its junior middleweight belt. "But it is the fight of the year and one of the major bouts, along with the fights between Chavez-Camacho and [Juan Manuel] Marquez-Manny Pacquiao.
"Pound for pound, Mayweather is the best in the world. He's one of the 10 best boxers in history and the best American boxer in the last 10 years. And beating him would be the most significant achievement in recent years and one of Mexican boxing's greatest achievements."
According to research by the Mexico Tourism Board, the Sept. 14 fight broadcast will reach 1.5 billion people around the world and more than 80 million in Mexico alone.
"This is the sporting event of the year in Mexico," said Gerardo Llanes, MTB's marketing director. "The significance of this fight is huge."
Since the fight was announced, both Alvarez's fans and those who doubt him haven't been able to stop talking about the duel. His followers swear that Canelo will finish off Mayweather; the naysayers believe "Money" will dismantle the myth in the making.
"It's a historic fight: It will be seen in homes, at restaurants," said Llanes, who noted that the MTPC has made a significant investment in the match -- and is confident that it will be worth every penny. "It will be a very important hit; 80 million Mexicans will be watching the fight."
Jesus Mena, a former Olympic medalist and director of the National Commission of Physical Culture and Sports, said that nothing could be more important in Mexican sports than a Canelo victory over Mayweather.
"In our country, boxing meets the highest standards we have," Mena said. "Entire books have been written about boxers' exploits, raising Mexico's name high.
"We hope that Canelo will be the winner in a fight that has evoked great interest. This belt is engraved with Mexico's name, and that is a good omen."