The main attraction, the reason why thousands of fans lasted for hours on a hot, shadowless, 97-degree afternoon on Friday, emerged in pink silk Dolce and Gabbana pajamas.
Canelo Alvarez He’s technically the challenger for his fight Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena, but the highest-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world has received champion treatment for weight.
He was introduced to the second crowd after a long-winded introduction by the event host before stepping up the ladder wearing pink Dolce and Gabbana boxers, weighing in at 174.4 pounds for his second career light heavyweight bout. Behind him a mariachi was playing. The Mexican fighter’s sea of red, white and green fans roared whenever possible.
It was the celebration ahead of the celebration, before 31-year-old Álvarez steps into the ring for another Las Vegas special over the Cinco de Mayo weekend and another supposed victory. his opponent, Dmitry Bivol, not much chance is given.
Bivol, 31, is an undefeated, eight-time defending champion with a good jab and a substantial size advantage, but it’s not a draw. He is relatively unknown. If nothing else, he’s best known for something no one in the event seems willing to talk about.
While Álvarez’s background has been highlighted on every possible occasion, Bivol’s origin has been a taboo subject since the fighters took to the streak this week. Bivol’s presentation at the weigh-in on Friday did not include his place of birth or his hometown. His national flag was not on display. He was a presented man without a home.
It was no accident. Bivol, although born in Kyrgyzstan, is Russian. He comes from St. Petersburg. None of this was mentioned on Friday as Russia continues to wage war on Ukraine.
Boxing personalities have spoken out against Bivol’s participation this weekend. in March, Don Re blew up Álvarez for giving the shot to Bivol. At the beginning of that month, Wladimir Klitschkoa former Ukrainian heavyweight champion said Bivol shouldn’t be allowed to fight.
Klitschko took up arms ashore in Ukraine when Russia invaded in late February. His brother, Vitalianother former heavyweight champion, is the mayor of Kiev, the country’s capital. Oleksandr Usyk Other Vasily Lomachenkoeminent Ukrainian boxers still active have also returned to Ukraine to defend the country.
On Friday, Tom Loeffler, promoter of the Klitschko brothers, reiterated Wladimir’s criticisms of the fight.
“He is disappointed that he has been sanctioned as he believes [it should be] Pleases Wimbledon and other international sports tournaments, ”Loeffler wrote in a text message. “He will be more disappointed if Bivol presents the Russian flag in the ring, as representing a country that is creating so many atrocities and human suffering would be unacceptable.”
This is not expected to happen. The World of Boxing Assn. announced surface-level sanctions in March, including banning Russian and Belarusian boxers from entering the ring with their national flag. National anthems will not be heard and nations will not be named. But the WBA refused to go as far as Wimbledon, banning athletes from those two countries.
MGM, which will host the fight on Saturday, declined to comment via a spokesperson. The Nevada Athletic Commission did not respond to a message on Friday.
“Throughout his career, I have supported him” Bivol told iFL TV this week, in reference to Klitschko. “I liked how he was fighting, so obviously I was happy when he won. He is a sportsman. He should know that sport and politics are different. He was an athlete. But he now he is [a politician]. It is sad that he wants to shake up and unite sport and politics ”.
On Wednesday, Álvarez became visibly uncomfortable when asked if he understood why some people don’t want the fight to happen.
“Maybe I understand a little, but here we are,” said Álvarez. “It is what it is.”
Dmitrij Salita, a former boxer, was born in Soviet Ukraine. He moved to the United States when he was 9, months before Ukraine regained its independence, and went on to record a 35-2-1 record at light welterweight and welterweight. He said he “has no problems” with Bivol fighting Álvarez.
“When we are at peace, when we are at war, when there is conflict, I believe that sport brings people together, it can bring people together in a positive way,” Salita said. “But I’m saying it from my point of view. When you are in conflict and war, your perspective can change and I respect it. They are not wrong to say what they say based on their experiences. “
Bivol is guaranteed $ 2 million for the fight and 30% of pay-per-view sales on Saturday, while Álvarez is set to earn up to $ 40 million, according to reports. If Bivol pulls out the rollover, there is undoubtedly a chance of becoming the undisputed champion at £ 175 with a bigger payday.
The quiet Bivol looked confident on Friday and tried to place the crowd.
“First of all, I see a lot of Mexican fans against me,” said Bivol to begin a short interview on stage. “Feliz Cinco de Mayo guys.”
People didn’t have it. The whistles rained down.
“What?” Bivol asked. “Because?”
Songs of “Mexico!” he followed, choking the Russian.
“Because?” Bivol asked again. “People motivate me. I’m here listening to the crowd and it’s motivating me. All my life, I am in boxing and have won many times and why shouldn’t I win this time? “