After a nearly hour-long delay, during which fans live in Times Square and watching online via live streaming video were subjected to infinite replays of a grating video package where fans on the street or drunk at the June 8 Maidana-Lopez event gave their inane thoughts on #TheOne, Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez finally made it to the stage this afternoon to begin the 11-city press tour to promote their September 14 Showtime pay-per-view bout.
If we judge by today, little will be said, and less will be worth hearing. Though the fight is undeniably a great matchup and should be an easy slam dunk at the box office, possibly to the point that it challenges the De La Hoya-Mayweather records from 2007, the promotional tour appears likely to take the "fun" out of "functional."
Mayweather (44-0, 26 KO) thanked everyone he could think of in the whole wide world, including but not limited to Al Haymon, Leonard Ellerbe, Canelo, Canelo's team, his own team, The Money Team, the media, Mayweather Promotions, Golden Boy Promotions, New York (the city), New York (the fans, whom he repeatedly called "truly amazing"), Showtime, and surely some others.
For the most part, it was Mayweather smiling, leading a couple of semi-successful chants with the fans ("Hard work, dedication" and "Easy money," if I recall), and doing the "aw, shucks" routine that he pulls out in person, before dipping into the potentially drying "Money Mayweather" well when it's time to go on TV and hype the fight with a documentary series that flaunts shallow materialism and whatever his family situation might be at the moment on his side, and a rehashed tale of underdog woe across the pre-fight ring.
Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KO) said even less, speaking in Spanish for about two lines, basically to say that it will be his time, and that he will defeat Mayweather. Both fighters expressed appreciation to the other for taking the fight, which may not be exciting, but surely beats the hell out of the Malignaggi-Broner promotional shit tornado we just came away from, so at least there's that.
Of course, this fight isn't about theatrics in the lead-up, and even the All Access series will be more something that is supposed to and must happen than it will be anything integral to the promotion of the bout. These press conferences are promoting what is, again, a surefire hit of a fight, and deservedly so. Take away all the familiarity and even tiredness of the Mayweather act, and you have a classic boxing story: The genuinely great old pro taking on the could-be great young lion, and yes, this is an instance where "young lion" might actually be worth using.
Alvarez is an organic star in many ways -- he was drawing crowds at home in Mexico before he ever got American attention or an HBO or Showtime push, and his audience loves him largely for the indefinable "it" that he carries, which could be as simple as red hair and a good smile. Whatever it is, Alvarez is a legitimate star, and so is Mayweather. As Showtime's Steve Farhood said, this is a star sport, at least when you're talking about the true top-level fights such as this one. But unlike most other recent "mega-fights," this isn't mega simply because one guy matters.
"This ain't Berto!" became a popular meme-type phrase from Mayweather during his promotion for the May 4 fight against Robert Guerrero, but this time, the key is that Canelo ain't Guerrero. Floyd has an actual star to help carry the promotional load with him, even greater than he had in 2012 with Miguel Cotto, as Alvarez is on the rise and has lost none of his PR-polished shine due to losses or whatever else.
The press conferences, then, might stink, even for press conference. But in the end, we'll have a true superstar fight on September 14. Give me the fight worth paying to see over the memorable press conferences any day.