Canelo Alvarez, right, signs autographs following an event promoting the fight between Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, in Houston. The Mexican boxers are scheduled to fight on May 6, 2017, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The fight is still 10 weeks away and will be staged almost 1,500 miles west of Houston, but that didn’t matter to the fans who crammed into Minute Maid Park’s Union Station to get a glimpse of boxing superstars Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., on Thursday afternoon.
The fighters are in the midst of a four-city tour to promote their May 6 bout in Las Vegas. The tour’s taken them from Mexico City to New York City to Houston and off to Los Angeles on Friday.
When they got to downtown Houston on Thursday, they were greeted by a line of fans that wrapped around Minute Maid Park, headed by a group of diehards who started the line at 5 a.m.
“I’m very happy to be back in Houston,” said Alvarez, who knocked out James Kirkland in 2015 at Minute Maid Park. “This is a great fight town, and Texas is a great fighting state. Seeing all the fans out there waiting for us is what gives me energy in training, energy to keep going and keep fighting.”
Golden Boys Promotions CEO Oscar de la Hoya, who handles Alvarez’s promotion, was on hand to help keep the hype machine churning. The sport’s biggest star just a decade ago, de la Hoya is one of the fighters who helped make Cinco de Mayo weekend a must-see Saturday night for boxing fans.
Alvarez vs Chavez Jr., will be just the latest in a long line of Cinco de Mayo weekends reserved for the sport’s biggest names from de la Hoya to Manny Pacquiao to Floyd Mayweather, and now Canelo.
“For fight fans in general all over the world, Cinco de Mayo is the weekend you look forward to all year, because you know there’s going to be a great fight that Saturday night,” said de la Hoya, who fought Mayweather on May 5, 2007, in the third-highest grossing pay-per-view event in history.
“In Las Vegas, it’s wild. They bring in concerts that weekend, celebrities are everywhere, fans from all over the world make the trip. It’s just a big, ol’ party that whole weekend. It’s something special to fight that weekend in Vegas.”
Although Chavez Jr., is no stranger to big fights whether they be that of his legendary father Julio Cesar Chavez or a few of his own, he’s never fought in the main event of a big card on Cinco de Mayo weekend. And, on the third stop of this week-long tour, he was feeling the effects of being on such a grand stage.
“To me, all of this (gesturing toward the media filling a Minute Maid Park conference room) is more exhausting than the training or the fighting; I’m tired, man,” Chavez Jr. said. “But, the actual fighting, the show we will put on, to do it on Cinco de Mayo weekend is special. Especially for it to be two Mexican fighters. It’s going to be special for us and for the fans.”
As for the actual stop in Houston, both Alvarez and Chavez Jr., made it through without any incidents. In Mexico City, the two got in some verbal sparring when Alvarez suggested they should bet each other their prize money, making the fight a winner-take-all affair.
There was no such talk Thursday. The fighter did the sport’s ritualistic staredown for the cameras, but the only bad blood appeared to bubble to the surface when a reporter ran back to Alvarez to tell him that Chavez Jr. – who was stationed on the opposite side of the room from Alvarez – had just suggested Alvarez was more famous than he was skilled.
“We’ll see May 6,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “If that’s what he thinks, I hope he doesn’t become overconfident, because that will be a big mistake on his part.”
BIG FIGHTS ON CINCO DE MAYO WEEKEND
Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., will fight on May 6, making it another big fight on Cinco de Mayo weekend. Here are previous big fights on the same weekend the past 10 years:
May 7, 2016: Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan (Alvarez by KO)
May 9, 2015: Canelo Alvarez vs. James Kirkland (Alvarez by KO)
May 2, 2015: Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao (Mayweather by decision)
May 3, 2014: Floyd Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana (Mayweather by decision)
May 5, 2012: Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto (Mayweather by decision); Canelo Alvarez vs. Shane Mosley (Alvarez by decision)
May 7, 2011: Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley (Pacquiao by decision)
May 1, 2010: Floyd Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley (Mayweather by decision)
May 2, 2009: Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton (Pacquiao by KO)
May 3, 2008: Oscar de la Hoya vs. Steve Forbes (de la Hoya by decision)
May 5, 2007: Oscar de la Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Mayweather by decision)
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