The news that middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez would defend against welterweight contender Amir Khan, who will move up in weight, on May 7 was an out-of-the-blue shocker when it was announced on Tuesday.
In the age of the Internet, social media and a 24-hour news cycle, it is virtually impossible to keep anything, much less a big fight, a secret. But that is what Golden Boy Promotions, the fighters and their teams did. The fact that word did not leak out surprised Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya, who will promote the fight.
"In all the years I've been in boxing I have never been able to keep a secret like this one," De La Hoya told ESPN.com on Tuesday afternoon. "We've been working on it for a couple of weeks. It was difficult to but not impossible to keep it quiet."
On Tuesday, nobody had to stay quiet any longer. De La Hoya said deal memos were signed and the fight, which will be at a contract weight of 155 pounds, was announced.
Although the date is set and the fight will headline an HBO PPV card, De La Hoya said the site is not finalized, although the plan is to have it at the new 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena, which opens in April and is just off the Las Vegas Strip.
The arena is owned by the MGM Grand, and De La Hoya said that is where they want to hold the fight.
"We're looking for this event to be a mega event in the new arena," he said. "I've been in contact with [MGM Grand executive] Richard Sturm and we have to work out some details but we hope to have it at the new arena."
After Alvarez outpointed Miguel Cotto to win the middleweight world title on Nov. 21 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, De La Hoya announced at the postfight news conference that Alvarez would return on May 7 and that they would soon begin working on the opponent.
The fight is supposedly an interim bout before a fall fight against unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin, who will take his own interim bout on April 23. He plans to face mandatory challenger Dominic Wade at the Forum in Inglewood, California, although that fight has not been formally announced yet.
As for Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs), names such as Gabriel Rosado and Willie Monroe Jr. were mentioned as possible opponents. They are good fighters but not fighters who would move the pay-per-view needle one iota. De La Hoya knew they needed a bigger name.
He said the names mentioned were "all speculation. People were just throwing names out there. So the way it came about was we said to ourselves, what fighter can create a mega event with Canelo? What fighter have we worked with in the past? What fighter has no promoter? I instantly thought about Amir Khan.
"He's an exciting fighter. He's never in a boring fight and he deserves a big fight. Floyd Mayweather didn't want to fight him. Passed him over. Manny Pacquiao didn't want to fight him. Passed him over. I thought, 'Let's put him up against Canelo Alvarez.'"
De La Hoya said he is the one who thought of Khan for Alvarez about two weeks after the Cotto fight.
"I gave [Golden Boy vice president] Eric [Gomez] a call and told him we have to seriously think about Cinco de Mayo weekend for Canelo and I came up with the idea," he said.
Coming up with the idea is one thing. Executing it is an entirely different matter, especially when Khan's adviser is Al Haymon, whom Golden Boy had an acrimonious split with a couple of years ago and against whom Golden Boy has a $300 million federal anti-trust lawsuit pending. They do not work together and do not like each other.
Whatever Haymon might have talked about with Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) regarding the fight during negotiations did not involve De La Hoya. De La Hoya said he did the deal with Shah Khan, Amir's father, and Robert Davis, Khan's attorney.
"I did not talk to or deal with [Haymon] for one second," De La Hoya said. "But I am willing to work with any promoter, including Al Haymon."
That comment was a pure dig at Haymon. Part of Golden Boy's lawsuit against Haymon is the accusation that he acts as both a manager and promoter, which is against federal law.
Regardless of the issues between Golden Boy and Haymon, Alvarez-Khan is made. De La Hoya said one of the last hurdles was the weight. Alvarez has been fighting regularly at 155 pounds. Khan has been fighting as a 147-pound welterweight since 2013.
"That was the most difficult part of the negotiations," De La Hoya said. "Amir wanted 154. Canelo wanted 155 to defend the middleweight title. We felt one pound would not make or break the fight. It's 155. It took a couple of days."
He also said there would be rigorous drug testing.
"We plan on using VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) for all of Canelo's fights moving forward," he said.
Also, De La Hoya said there would be no rehydration clause after the weigh-in and that, in fact, Khan is actually a bit taller than Alvarez even though he has fought in a smaller weight division.
"When I thought about Amir Khan versus Canelo I instantly thought about Manny Pacquiao-Oscar De La Hoya or Floyd against Canelo or Sugar Ray Leonard-Marvelous Marvin Hagler," De La Hoya said, naming famous fights in which smaller fighters moved up in weight and defeated their typically heavier opponent. "Amir Khan is taller than Canelo. He's faster than Canelo. It can get complicated in there for Canelo. Canelo has to put constant pressure on Khan. And when has Amir Khan been in a boring fight? If there's one guy who deserve s a big fight it's Amir Khan."
De La Hoya said Alvarez has a rematch clause in the event he loses, but other than that Golden Boy has nothing going forward with Khan, whom they promoted from 2010 to 2014. But are they talking about a longer-term deal?
"I am looking forward to working with Amir again," is all De La Hoya would say.
The undercard has not yet been set, but De La Hoya promised it would be worthwhile.
"We're going to load it up like there's no tomorrow. People are gonna love it," he said. "Canelo Alvarez is taking over Cinco de Mayo and we will make sure all the fans will enjoy this tremendous card from top to bottom."
And if Alvarez wins, will he go through with the Golovkin fight?
"The Golovkin fight is going to happen, believe me," De La Hoya said. "We are looking forward to it."