LAS VEGAS -- The idea has begun to take hold that Saturday's Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez clash at the MGM Grand Garden Arena could be boxing's best in years. The expectations for the bout confirm it: Records already have been broken for live-gate revenue and closed-circuit sales, and it's hoped that the pay-per-view bount for the card will exceed, or at least approach, the total that Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya set six years ago in their blockbuster, also staged at the MGM Grand.
And if you think about it, the Mayweather-Alvarez main event would seem to check every box that we would want in a prizegfight: a confrontation between skilled, popular and undefeated representatives of the sport, fighters who together span cultures and generations.
Mayweather and Alvarez are the yin and yang of boxing. The former has speed, exceptional defensive gifts and ring intelligence that has gone unmatched in the past quarter century, and he has been the standard bearer for American boxers for at least a decade. The latter is young, strong and precocious, having demonstrated his popularity in drawing almost 40 thousand people to San Antonio's Alamodome and specifically connecting with his Mexican countrymen.
And the matching of these fighters, although compelling, is actually trumped by the stakes: Either Mayweather or Canelo is going to lose his unbeaten status on Saturday night. Pondering how that will happen is an interesting enough thought, but take it a step further and imagine how this will affect not only the future of both fighters, but also of boxing itself.
Floyd has the chance to reach the magical mark of 50-0, which would not only surpass the touchstone career record of the legendary Rocco Francis Marchegiano (better known as Rocky Marciano), but would also funnel more millions into his considerable bank account.
Is "Money" going for broke in this fight? If he recognizes any risk in Alvarez, it's also true that he knows -- and, more importantly, knew when it came time to decide on an opponent -- he is the favorite, regardless of any age or weight disadvantages. But the fact remains: The public sees a risk, and in that sense, Mayweather is giving fight fans what they want.
Canelo, for his part, has a chance to begin a new era. His popularity has grown by leaps and bounds in the shortest of spans, and he is convinced that he has what it takes to become the new face of boxing -- a title that he would instantly take on if he were able to upset the reigning P4P and PPV champ.
Speaking of, Canelo is headlining his first PPV event, one that will reach nearly two million homes -- an extraordinary figure that he stands to gain greatly from, even in a loss. In that sense, this fight is enormous -- and, yes, perhaps the biggest in a decade. The exploits of Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez last year were nothing to scoff at, but considering what hinges on this fight -- one star adding another win to his record and the other adding a "1" to the other side of the ledger -- the hype of "The One" figures to hold up over time.