Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Mayweather-Canelo taking Vegas by storm
By Carlos Nava
Fight fans are descending on Las Vegas this week to witness one of boxing's biggest cards in years.
LAS VEGAS -- If the rain that fell here on Monday is a foreshadowing of what's to come in Las Vegas this weekend, then boxing fans can expect a storm inside and outside the ring.
Sin City received fans arriving for Saturday's Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez junior middleweight unification bout with a thunderclap -- one that may not match the growing rumbling for what figures to be boxing's biggest fight of the year.
As usual for this kind of date, the city expects a lot of fans, many of them crossing the Mexican border to bear witness to their country's biggest current sporting attraction in Alvarez. The difference is that they already are arriving in droves for the fight card -- a day before even the fighters' grand arrivals at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino on Tuesday.
"We already started receiving fans here at the hotel, and it's just Monday," said Susy Gomez, a hotel clerk at fight headquarters. "There is a lot of movement early, and we were warned that in a couple of days it will be madness."
From McCarran Airport to "The Strip," the boxing breeze is building into a gale sweeping through Vegas well before Saturday's downpour.
The spectacular posters featuring "The One" -- a card also including the co-featured bout between junior welterweight titlist Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse -- reach their peak levels of glamour along the main stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard.
The fight card, predictably, is a hot topic among both tourists and locals in the immediate environment of the MGM Grand. A source at fight promoter Golden Boy confirmed with ESPNDeportes.com that of the total gate for the card -- which sold out as soon as tickets hit the market -- about 65 percent went to the Mexican public.
"Do you think Canelo will have any chance?" asked an arriving guest of her companion in Spanish. "I think Mayweather will win."
"I don't know -- Canelo is doing well," another guest interjected. "He has improved a lot, and you saw what happened with [Juan Manuel] Marquez and [Manny] Pacquiao. A punch can change everything."
Marquez knocked out Pacquiao in the final seconds of their showdown last December, in the same ring where Mayweather and Alvarez will clash at the MGM Garden Arena.
The check-in line at the MGM was full on Monday, promising an arriving guest a wait of nearly half an hour, despite the best efforts of about 20 receptionists to empty the long line, which included some preliminary boxers for Saturday's card.
Also checking in were guests who had no idea what all the fuss was about, uninitiated visitors sprinkled amid the fans and media members who will be covering the event from Tuesday's official start of fight week through the final bell of Saturday's main event.
The hotel souvenir shop welcomed a constant influx of customers, many of whom were willing to pay at least $40 for a commemorative fight T-shirt or, for the same price, a ball cap featuring the logo of "Money" Mayweather.
On Sept. 15 of last year, two Las Vegas venues were filled on the same day for separate, simultaneous boxing cards staged just a few blocks away from each other. Similarly, those events -- Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s unsuccessful middleweight title defense against Sergio Martinez, and Alvarez's destruction of Josesito Lopez -- were witnessed by a considerable majority of Mexicans who had crossed the border to be in attendance.
And now many of those same Mexican nationals are expected to fill Las Vegas' nightclubs, bars and restaurants (many of them offering closed-circuit events) and, it's undoubtedly hoped, will attend weekend performances by two of Mexico's most beloved artists, Luis Miguel and Alejandro Fernandez.
The party officially begins on Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET, when fighter arrivals kick off and Mayweather and Alvarez (along with Garcia, Matthysse and the top undercard fighters) take their turns being presented in the ceremonial boxing ring that has been erected in the main lobby of the MGM.