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Saul Alvarez to fight Alfonso Gomez

LAS VEGAS -- Junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, Mexico's most popular fighter, got a nice 21st birthday present this week: The confirmation that he will make his second defense against former "Contender" star Alfonso Gomez at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 17 -- the weekend of Mexican Independence Day.

While Alvarez-Gomez will headline a card at the Staples Center, the fight will be televised as part of a split-site pay-per-view show on which Floyd Mayweather's return from a 16-month layoff to challenge welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz will headline a card -- and the HBO PPV telecast -- at the MGM Grand.

"It's going to be an historic pay-per-view. It will be an amazing experience because the fans at Staples Center will be able to see the live feed from Las Vegas and also see Canelo Alvarez fight live that night, and the people in Las Vegas can see the live feed from the Canelo fight in the Staples Center," Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com.

"You're going to have two HBO crews and they'll give it back and forth between L.A. and Las Vegas. It's going to be great," said Schaefer, who is in Las Vegas promoting Saturday's Amir Khan-Zab Judah junior welterweight title unification fight.

Schaefer said the telecast will open in Las Vegas, where 22-year-old junior welterweight prospect Jessie Vargas, a Mayweather protege from Las Vegas, will fight an opponent to be announced in a 10-rounder. Vargas (16-0, 9 KOs) opened eyes when he scored a sensational second-round knockout against veteran Walter Estrada on July 8.

The show will stay in Las Vegas for the next fight, the previously announced junior welterweight bout between Mexican star and former three-division champion Erik Morales (51-7, 35 KOs), who will face England's Anthony Crolla (21-2, 9 KOs).

After Morales-Crolla, the action will shift to Los Angeles for the Alvarez-Gomez fight before returning to Las Vegas, where Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) will make his first title defense against Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs).

"To be able to see Mayweather-Ortiz and then add to that Erik Morales and Canelo Alvarez against Alfonso Gomez, and a young and emerging fighter who is tremendously talented in Jessie Vargas, it's sort of like a little bit of everything on this pay-per-view," Schaefer said.

"You can go to the fight at the Staples Center for as little as 50 bucks, which is the price of a closed circuit ticket (to see the pay-per-view view in Las Vegas). So you could see the pay-per-view on the big screen at Staples plus see Canelo Alvarez. That's a pretty good deal, isn't it?"

The 2010 ESPN.com prospect of the year, Alvarez (37-0-1, 27 KOs), who turned 21 on Monday, won a vacant title in March with a shutout decision against Matthew Hatton and stopped Ryan Rhodes in the 12th round of another lopsided fight in his first defense on June 18.

Gomez (23-4-2, 12 KOs), 30, lives in Southern California, but he is also from Alvarez's hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, which ought to add some spice to the promotion.

"For Gomez, he's been waiting for an opportunity like this," Schaefer said. "There was a time (in December 2010) when he was supposed to fight (Julio Cesar) Chavez Jr. but Chavez had to pull out. Now he gets to show what he's all about against (another) big star from Mexico, Canelo Alvarez. I know Alfonso Gomez will come ready and will give Canelo a helluva fight. I told Canelo he better be ready because this guy is coming to win."

Gomez, who starred on the first season of "The Contender" reality series, parlayed his fame from the show into a high-profile fight with the late Arturo Gatti and sent him into retirement with a seventh-round knockout in 2007.

Gomez lost his only previous title shot, a fifth-round knockout to then-welterweight titlist Miguel Cotto in 2008. But he has won five fights in a row since losing to Cotto.

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.