It's still not the fight everyone wanted to see, but Floyd Mayweather Jr. did the next- best thing when he agreed to take on young Mexican star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez on Sept. 14 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"It's always been one of my ultimate goals to get to the pinnacle of the sport, push myself to the limit by facing the best," Mayweather said at a news conference in New York City on Monday. "He's a young champion. What else can I say?"
Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs) has taken criticism in recent years for handpicking his opponents, often taking on fighters viewed as inferior.
The 22-year-old Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs) will be only the second undefeated fighter the 36-year-old Mayweather will face. Mayweather scored a 10th-round TKO over then-unbeaten Ricky Hatton at the MGM Grand in 2007.
As for Alvarez, he said he's ready for everything Mayweather has to offer in and out of the ring.
"Floyd's mentally the best. It's not just physical, it's mental," Alvarez said through an interpreter. "I'm preparing myself. I've visualized myself in this situation many times."
The fight will be contested at a catch-weight of 152 pounds, though it's unclear who first broached the idea of a catch-weight. The fight will be at a weight that is two pounds under the junior middleweight limit.
Mayweather's manager, Leonard Ellerbe, said it was Alvarez's camp; Alvarez said otherwise. "It wasn't me. I don't want to fight two pounds below the weight class," Alvarez said.
Forced with fighting at a catch-weight or not doing it at all, Alvarez took the deal. "That's what was negotiated. That was the only way I could get the fight,'' he said, "so I accepted it."
Mayweather fought as a junior middleweight against Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto, so making weight shouldn't be an issue for either fighter.
Mayweather's super-welterweight title and Alvarez's junior middleweight title will be at stake.
Alvarez, although not in awe of Mayweather, showed his respect.
"It will be a very difficult fight," Alvarez said. "Very taxing, but I'm ready."
Mayweather said he doesn't know much about Alvarez. Alvarez doesn't believe him.
"He knows me. He knows me well," Alvarez said. "That's why he accepted the fight. If he doesn't, on September 14 he'll meet me."