(Photo credit: Naoki Fakuda) By José Sulaimán – LAS VEGAS, CITY OF LIGHTS IN BOXING. Visiting Las Vegas is always nice. A real treat. My first trip was in 1958. I was still single. I came as a boxing fan, but I was already Commissioner in Ciudad Victoria.
Things were different back then, over 50 years ago. The most beautiful area was DOWNTOWN – a casino with a giant cowboy boot on the facade, and many small hotels and hotel-casinos. The famous five of those times included “The Sands.” There was even a golf course. Las Vegas was a small dot in the vastness of the desert, but people still had a great desire to come to this historic city and play some money on roulette or in a poker hand. Now Las Vegas is a torrent of light seen from afar in airplanes.
Thanks to my being in the WBC, I have had the good fortune to witness this wonderful urban transformation, which is now the worldwide betting center. Just from my memories during my thousands of trips, I can indeed believe and appreciate what it was then, and what this luminous city is now also … the resplendent house of boxing.
This time, I came to Vegas to be at the double world championship fight card: Floyd Mayweather Jr., WBC diamond and welterweight champion against Roberto Guerrero, WBC interim world champion. The other big fight was between WBC featherweight champion, Daniel Ponce de León, against his challenger Abner Mares, for the featherweight world title. Being backstage at the MGM Arena, for some reason, transported me to another era when boxing was bohemian. The passion of which extends way beyond money, when you felt that pride, honor and glory was the main target in the ring.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. will come into the ring to remain the sole KING of the welterweights, while Guerrero will try to overcome the odds against him in winning the undisputed WBC welterweight championship of the world. He wants to enter brilliantly the the elite circle of boxing. I think any opponent who might hope to defeat Floyd would have to be the very best in the world on his best night, on a not so brilliant Floyd. Otherwise, we will continue to witness the captivating supreme magic in the ring of one of the most brilliant boxers in history. Guerrero is a warrior and comes to the ring to destroy, but at this time he will have to find the best of the best, as Floyd has become the unquestionable most recognised and finest champion of all divisions. I would place Floyd Mayweather as the Muhammad Ali of our times.
Then we are having Ponce de Leon-Mares contesting the WBC featherweight title – a titanic fight of two Mexicans who will have a true war story like it always happens when you have two great Mexicans meeting each other in the proud tradition of Toluco López-José Medel, Rodolfo Martínez- Rafael Herrera, Chucho Castillo-Ruben Olivares, Erik Morales-Marco Antonio Barrera, and Israel Vazquez-Rafael Márquez, to mention but a few. A truly great fight between two ring warriors who will compete with commitment, passion, and pride like all Mexicans do. This fight will be a war.
We are to see two great contests that emphatically confirm the very best fights are disputed for a WBC title: From Argentina with Sergio Martinez, to England with Amir Khan, Panama with Castellanos-Caballero, and Mexico with Terrazas- Mijares; from San Antonio with Canelo Alvarez to New York with Danny Garcia, from Los Angeles with Stiverne-Arreola, to Las Vegas with the two very attractive fights held last night.
All of that in just about a month. An array of magnificent bouts that stand boxing and the WBC tall, right up in its rightful place in the global public taste.
Thank you for reading my thoughts.