The common denominators that linked outdoor events on the first three days of THE ONE press tour didn’t change when Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez descended on Centennial Park in Atlanta for stop No. 5 on day No. 4 of an international 11-city odyssey.
The fans were plentiful. Their support was palpable. And the weather was, well… intense.
“Forget just THE ONE,” said the tour’s official emcee, Los Angeles-based radio personality Tattoo. “They should start calling this thing ‘THE HOT ONE.’”
It was similar to previously broiling outdoor stops in New York and Grand Rapids, this time featuring temperatures and humidity levels that hovered near 90. Nonetheless, the fans were rewarded after lining up in mid-morning while awaiting a scheduled 1 p.m. start that was delayed 60 minutes.
Among the sweat-soaked masses who toughed it out was Terri Moss, a local gym owner and former women’s pro boxer who came with a half-dozen colleagues in support of Canelo. She held a sign that read “Call Me, Canelo,” along with the gym’s phone number. By the end of her stay a few hours later, she said the gym had received dozens of calls from as far away as Mexico City.
“We’ve got a bunch of boxing chicks and they all love him because they think he’s so cute,” Moss said. “So we came up with the idea of putting the phone number on there. Just a little touch of marketing genius, I guess. But it would have been better if he’d have called himself.”
Moss was not alone in her support for the 22-year-old Mexican hero, whose fans equaled – if not surpassed – the volume created by those favoring Mayweather. But Money fans were not hard to find either.
Idris Muhammad, a California native and seven-year Atlanta resident, said it’ll be Mayweather’s defensive prowess that allows him to overcome the threat posed by a much younger and presumably stronger foe in September.
“He’s the best technical fighter of the generation,” he said. “I don’t think (Canelo is) ready for a guy of this caliber. He’s got some advantages, but it starts to look different when they get in there with Floyd.”
FACEBOOK QUESTION OF THE DAY
Is Canelo surprised by the fan support he’s received in each city?
– Rick McPhee, Winnipeg, Manitoba
“No. No. Not at all,” said Ramiro Gonzalez, a publicist for Golden Boy Promotions and one of Canelo’s interpreters. “He’s established new records in Mexico that even surpass the national soccer team. He’s a crossover star. And we know the U.S. is filled with a lot of Mexicans that support their team when they travel, so we knew they would come out for Canelo, too.”
– Distance from Times Square to Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.: 228 miles.
– Distance from Howard Theatre to Houseman Field in Grand Rapids, Mich.: 650 miles.
– Distance from Houseman Field to The Chicago Theatre: 181 miles.
– Distance from The Chicago Theatre to Centennial Park in Atlanta: 715 miles.
– Distance from Centennial Park to Bayfront Park in Miami: 665 miles.
TOTAL TOUR DISTANCE: 2,439 miles.
Canelo raised his game in the city that Mayweather calls his ‘second hometown’ by pairing a grey v-neck shirt with black corduroy pants, stylish shades and shiny black shoes. Mayweather, whom Richard Schaefer labeled a trendsetter in “fashion, style and show biz,” sported a custom T-shirt with the words Money, Power and Respect on the front and his pre-Guerrero ring record of 43-0 spelled out in Roman numbers.
– Fashion Scorecard: Alvarez, 10-9
– Thru Five: Mayweather, 48-47
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“He’ll find out the pressure is different at this level. There’s no pressure for me. I’ve got years and years of experience up here.”
– Floyd Mayweather
QUOTE OF THE DAY, RUNNER-UP
“(Canelo is) young enough that he might not be afraid of the big rolling ball that is Floyd Mayweather.”
– Terri Moss, Atlanta gym owner and former IBF women’s mini-flyweight champion
TOUR STOP HOT SPOT
If a bacon cheddar panini is what you crave in downtown Atlanta, the official press tour blog suggests the Corner Bakery Cafe, which shares a building on Peachtree Street NW with offices for Habitat for Humanity. Not only was it tasty and cheap, but it was served up by as friendly a staff as you’re likely to encounter anywhere on a weekday morning.
Though he’s been slowed slightly by a sore throat, Mayweather stayed unbeaten when it came to microphone time – once again going for nearly three times his rival. That said, Alvarez did break the one-minute threshold for the first time and seemed more comfortable with the role.
– Alvarez mic time: 1 minute, 1.1 seconds (Five-stop total: 4 minutes, 14.3 seconds)
– Mayweather mic time: 2 minutes, 45.3 seconds (Five-stop total: 20 minutes, 2.3 seconds)
MAKING AN ENTRANCE
Because the fighters were staying at different Atlanta hotels, a significant challenge backstage was making sure Canelo – who stayed at the nearby W hotel – didn’t arrive so early that he’d have to wait for Mayweather, who was farther away at the Intercontinental. Canelo arrived early for the Day 3 stop in Grand Rapids and was predictably not happy. As a result, lead Mayweather publicist Kelly Swanson was among a horde of venue staff constantly tracking and updating the pair’s movements. “There’s nowhere to wait here, and I don’t want (Canelo) to just sit in his car for an hour,” she said.
A SMALL ARMY
Not surprisingly, an 11-city tour that stretches over nine days requires a contingent of support. The rough personnel breakdown:
– Mayweather Promotions staff/security – 20 employees
– Golden Boy Promotions staff – 10 employees
– Swanson Communications staff – 8 employees
– Showtime staff – 5 employees
REVEALING HIS SECRETS
Veteran Showtime photographer Tom Casino conceded that some of his spectacular photos of the tour’s opening day in New York City were the product of good fortune. He took some shots from the ninth floor of a building overlooking Times Square, and admitted to activating the shutter for one image when a cannon releasing green and white streamers went off and startled him. The same thing happened a few minutes later on the ground, when he activated the remote control for another shot when a second cannon released red, white and blue streamers. “Sometimes you get lucky like that,” he said.
UNDISPUTED LOCAL CHAMPION
Former heavyweight champion and Atlanta native Evander Holyfield drew huge cheers upon his hometown introduction. Not surprisingly, he said his initial victory over Mike Tyson in 1996 was his most memorable moment. “I was a two-time heavyweight champion when I fought him, but all anyone would say is ‘You never beat Mike Tyson,’” Holyfield said. “Once I did that, it seemed like everyone was satisfied.” His pick for Sept. 14? Mayweather by decision.
OH, WHAT A LUCKY MAN
One of the busiest and happiest working stiffs in the crowd was Raul Berumen, whose task was to serve as chaperone for the event’s two Corona girls, striking Atlanta-area models named Stephanie and Kayte. “Yeah, it’s not so bad for me to go to work,” said Berumen, who typically fields about 100 fan requests for photos at events. “It’s not the worst job in the world, and the girls typically handle things very well. They know the business and they know what to expect.”