Floyd Mayweather (left) faces off with Canelo Alvarez during the weigh-in Friday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for their super welterweight world championship fight.
(Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports)
By Bob Velin
USA TODAY Sports
LAS VEGAS - As sporting events go, especially "niche" sporting events, it doesn't get much bigger than "The One," the showdown of undefeated super welterweight fighters Floyd "Money" Mayweather and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez on Saturday night at the MGM Grand.
The largest hotel-casino in Las Vegas has been buzzing with activity all week, and it's been building by the day. Showtime's pay-per-view coverage began at 9 p.m. ET.
On Friday, more than 12,000 packed into the Grand Garden Arena to watch the weigh-in, unofficially the biggest crowd for a weigh-in boxing has seen. Many were turned away.
Even at 1 a.m. Saturday, the hotel lobby was packed with people hoping for a glimpse of a fighter or a celebrity. The shop selling fight apparel and souvenirs was packed, with long lines of fans waiting to enter. The casino was packed, and the MGM Sportsbook had long lines of people hoping to get their bets in.
The list of celebrities confirmed for the fight is proof that the interest is as high as for any boxing event in recent memory.
Among celebs expected to be ringside, from a list obtained by USA TODAY Sports: Actors Denzel Washington, Jack Nicholson, Jon Voight and Don Cheadle; entertainers George Lopez, Heidi Klum, and Justin Bieber; hip-hop stars Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Sean "Diddy" Combs, LL Cool J, and Busta Rhymes; athletes Michael Phelps, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Cain Velasquez and Gina Carano.
There were plenty of regular people excited to have tickets to the big event, too.
Ken and Chrissie Triptow, from Chicago, had never been to a prizefight before, but decided they couldn't miss "The One." So they bought two $2,000 tickets, left the kids with family and headed to Vegas. Their idea of their first "little getaway" since having kids. They have two boys, ages 2½ and 10 months.
They felt lucky to get those two-grand seats, because Ken said the tickets were gone just a few minutes later.
"It's an exciting event, a pretty big show so far," Ken said. "We always wanted to go to a big fight. Figured there weren't too many big fighters left. We're hoping it all lives up to it once it starts."
Floyd Mayweather Sr. was wandering through the hallway outside the arena hours before the fight, looking at ease and ready to be in his son's corner.
Asked if he's ever seen anything like this in boxing, Mayweather Sr. smiled and said, "No, never, not even in the days of Muhammad Ali."
Mayweather, who trains his son, said Floyd Jr. was relaxed and ready.
"Floyd is always relaxed," Mayweather Sr. said. "He never gets nervous or uptight."
Here's what you need to know about tonight's card, which could be the most lucrative in boxing history:
On TV: Showtime pay-per-view is providing the telecast, beginning at 9 p.m. ET, with four fights on the televised portion of the card. The cost is $64.95 and $74.95 for high definition. Countdown Live, a pre-fight preview show, will begin at 8 p.m. ET on Showtime.
Main event: Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs) vs. Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs) in a battle of undefeated fighters for the WBC, WBA Super and Ring magazine super welterweight championship. Mayweather is guaranteed a record $41.5 million and Alvarez $5 million
Other televised title fights: Danny Garcia (26-0, 16 KOs) vs. Lucas Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs) WBC, WBA Super and Ring magazine super lightweight world championship. Garcia will be paid $1.5 million, and Matthysse $800,000. Ishe Smith (25-5, 11 KOs) vs. Carlos Molina (21-5-2, 6 KOs) for the junior middleweight championship and a non-title fight between Pablo Cesar Cano (26-3-1, 20 KOs) vs. Ashley Theophane (33-5-1, 10 KOs).
Showtime broadcast team: Mauro Ranallo will call the action, with Hall of Famer Al Bernstein and Paulie Malignaggi doing the ringside analysis. Brian Kenny will host the Showtime broadcast.