Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya announced Saturday night that the fight between former junior middleweight titleholder Canelo Alvarez and brawler James Kirkland, originally scheduled for May 2 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, has been moved to May 9 at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
HBO will air the fight, the first of Alvarez's exclusive contract with the network. The move stemmed from Friday's news that the long-awaited showdown between welterweight champions Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao was finalized for May 2 -- a joint pay-per-view between rival networks HBO and Showtime -- at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"The week around Cinco de Mayo will be the biggest in years for boxing, bridging the present and the future as the three biggest stars in the sport all step into the ring in just a seven-day period," De La Hoya said. "It is my hope and belief that this May week will usher in a new era of our sport, one in which we as a sport give fans what they want -- the best facing the best."
Alvarez has said repeatedly how important it is for him to fight on May 2 because it is the Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend, a traditional date for a major Mexican fight, and he is the most popular active Mexican boxer. However, De La Hoya and Alvarez said from the time the fight with Kirkland was scheduled that they would move off that date for only one fight -- Mayweather-Pacquiao.
"Right from the start Canelo has always said the only fight he would move from his date May 2 was obviously the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, which we did," De La Hoya said.
Had Mayweather-Pacquiao not been finalized and Mayweather faced somebody else on Showtime PPV, De La Hoya and HBO said they would have programmed Alvarez's fight against it.
"For the sake of boxing and respect to the fans, it is good that Pacquiao versus Mayweather was done," Alvarez said.
De La Hoya said although he hoped Alvarez would fight on May 2, he understands Mayweather-Pacquiao is the biggest event in boxing. On top of that, HBO is involved in the fight and would not have allowed Alvarez to fight on the same date.
"We were obviously calculating everything and we always had our hopes high the Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather fight would get made. It was down to the wire," De La Hoya said. "When Floyd and Manny announced that they are fighting everybody was ecstatic because it's the fight the whole world wants to see, including Golden Boy, including Canelo. We're glad that the fight finally got made. This is what the fans wanted and what they deserved."
De La Hoya said the reason for switching venues was because the Alamodome, where Alvarez drew a crowd of nearly 40,000 for his April 2013 victory against Austin Trout in a 154-pound title unification fight, was not available on May 9.
"Obviously, Canelo loves the Alamodome, but unfortunately for the San Antonio fans the Alamodome was not available," De La Hoya said.
That opened the door for Golden Boy to move to Minute Maid Park, home stadium for the Houston Astros. It will be the first boxing event to take place at the stadium, which opened in 2000.
"It probably can hold about 40,000, 45,000 for a fight and this will be an event there," De La Hoya said. "It's the very first boxing event there and it's gonna be incredible with Manny and Floyd -- the present -- fighting on May 2, and then the future of boxing, Canelo Alvarez, fighting a week later in a very tough, competitive, exciting fun fight against James Kirkland."
De La Hoya said because Minute Maid Park has a retractable roof, they can decide closer to fight time whether to open the roof and make it an outdoor fight, or leave it closed for an indoor fight.
"We'll look at the weather and see but we want to make it an event," De La Hoya said. "We want to tell the world, 'Hey, Canelo is here.' We want to have the roof open, have some jets fly over the stadium, have a fireworks show."
As for Alvarez's disappointment about not fighting on May 2, De La Hoya said, "In his mind and in ours at Golden Boy, Cinco de Mayo falls in between May 2 and May 9. It's a whole-week celebration, so Canelo is still fighting for all his Mexican fans."
Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KOs), 24, will be fighting for the first time since leaving Showtime and signing an exclusive multifight contract with HBO in September. The deal was supposed to begin with a Dec. 6 fight against former welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey, but the fight was called off after Alvarez elected to undergo treatment for a persistent left ankle injury.
Alvarez had hoped to face middleweight champion Miguel Cotto in May, and the sides were deeply involved in negotiations. But in late January, Alvarez and Golden Boy withdrew from the talks because Alvarez believed Cotto was taking too long to make a deal, so they made a deal with Kirkland instead.
Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs), a southpaw who turns 31 in March, has not fought since knocking out Glen Tapia in the sixth round in December 2013. Kirkland turned down several fights, typically because he was unhappy with the money, and he has also had legal problems. But he is one of the hardest hitters in the division and one of the most exciting fighters in boxing.