Five percent. We hear that number more and more often these days when discussing the amount of "crossover fans" between boxing and MMA. But that number is misleading when it comes to situations like this weekend. It's not just "boxing fans" who order pay-per-view events featuring Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, just like it's not exclusively football fans who tune in for the Super Bowl. There is an allure to watching the best in a sport perform, and guys like Floyd and Manny have transcended simple sporting lines and are now parts of popular culture.
For most, the decision on if they should watch the UFC Fight Night 25 card or Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz will not be a difficult one. If you like boxing at all or are intrigued by the "big event" the boxing pay-per-view is worth the rather steep (upwards of $69.95 for HD) price. The hardcore MMA fans are less likely to skip a UFC event just to catch a single, expensive boxing event.
While, normally, I'd say that a UFC undercard destroys what boxing promoters are willing to give you for your money, for once they're actually going to deliver some legitimate fights. This is the first of a few articles I will write this week looking at the biggest fight of the weekend.
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, already sporting a 37-0-1 record while only 21 years old, is one of the top rising stars in the sport and a guy with huge drawing power on his own. His battle with Alfonso Gomez is one that favors Alvarez but should deliver plenty of action. This fight is actually headlining its own card at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA but will be shown as the featured undercard bout on the pay-per-view.
Erik Morales isn't the huge draw that he once was, but this is still one of the five greatest Mexican boxers ever and a man ESPN ranked as the #49 boxer of all time. Morales will be in action on the undercard against solid undefeated prospect Pablo Cesar Cano. Scott Christ of Bad Left Hook explains exactly why Morales/Cano is a solid fight:
Cano (22-0-1, 17 KO) is an aggressive young fighter taking a big step up in class with this fight, but you have to like that Golden Boy was able to find a legitimate prospect and legitimate junior welterweight with the very short notice. I really thought they'd wind up being "stuck with" Anthony Crolla, who was originally supposed to be Morales' opponent on the show, but they've gone in what may well be a much better direction, with all due respect to Crolla.
I'll turn to Scott and Bad Left Hook one more time to explain why the opening bout on the card, a fight between Jessie Vargas and Josesito Lopez, is a perfectly solid way to start the evening:
Here's a good fight that there's no philosophical issue with whatsoever. Prospect Vargas, 22, has blown through Vivian Harris and Walter Estrada in his last two. Sure, those aren't the most amazing wins, but they were solid for where he was at, and now he takes a good challenge from the tough Lopez, a 27-year-old from Riverside, Calif., who you may be familiar with if you're a Friday Night Fights regular. This is a legit fight for a couple of hungry guys looking to step up, and as a tone-setter, could be just about perfect and like the other two fights, has serious potential to be a good fight.
So a solid night of action fights and a big main event should make this an easy sell for anyone wondering what to do with their Saturday night. We'll have more on Mayweather/Ortiz this week to provide information for those curious and because I like to talk boxing sometimes.