Canelo Alvarez bout part of boxing's best year, Oscar De La Hoya says

Oscar De La Hoya says 2015 will be the biggest year in boxing history

Oscar De La Hoya said he expects 2015 to be the best year in boxing history.

The promoter who lost a split decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2007 in the best-selling pay-per-view bout in history expects that record (2.25 million buys) to fall when Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight May 2 at MGM Grand.

A week later, De La Hoya’s top fighter, former light-middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, will fight hard-punching James Kirkland at Minute Maid Field in Houston.

De La Hoya told the Los Angeles Times in a Tuesday interview that he expects a sellout crowd of 45,000 for Alvarez-Kirkland.

And from there, Alvarez will still be aligned for his own mega-fight against middleweight world champion Miguel Cotto in September, De La Hoya said.

Talks for an Alvarez-Cotto fight on May 2 crumbled in January, when Cotto dragged his feet to commit to the bout while Mayweather negotiated with Pacquiao.

“We had to hold our ground,” said De La Hoya, who promised Alvarez the May 2 date unless Mayweather-Pacquiao was made.

“I feel a little bit responsible, along with the fans, [CBS Corp. President and Chief Executive] Les Moonves and [Pacquiao promoter] Bob Arum, that we cornered Mayweather. The fans get the best fight. We were adamant about not moving from May 2 unless it was Mayweather-Pacquiao, and sure enough....

“We already had a Plan B for May 9 to Houston, and now it’s on.”

De La Hoya said Alvarez-Kirkland, to be televised on HBO, will retain a Cinco de Mayo feel, opening with a news conference that day with weeklong festivities in Houston.

Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 knockouts) is expecting a slugfest against Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs), who last fought in December 2013 in a powerful display, a sixth-round TKO of Glen Tapia.

“It’s a dangerous fight, and more importantly, it’s an exciting fight,” De La Hoya said. “When you have Kirkland and Canelo in the ring, you’re going to have an explosion. Canelo is motivated, ready to go and wants to fight three times this year: May, September, December.”

De La Hoya’s recently signed middleweight David Lemieux (33-2, 31 KOs) is being pointed to the May undercard.

Cotto has a June fight scheduled against Cornelius Bundrage, and De La Hoya said he’ll push toward a September super-fight renewing Puerto Rico and Mexico’s decorated history in major bouts.

De La Hoya is also promoting another anticipated brawl featuring light-welterweights Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov on April 18 at Turning Stone Resort in New York.

As for Mayweather-Pacquiao, De La Hoya, who has fought both, said for the first time in a long time he’s picking Mayweather.

“They’re not the same fighters of five years ago, but they’re fresh enough to still make it a great fight,” De La Hoya said. “Mayweather has the superior boxing skills. I might have to give him the edge.

“Unless Pacquiao is rejuvenated, remotivated, 100% in the fight game. If he’s distracted with basketball, politics, it’s going to be a long night for him.

“I do believe [trainer] Freddie Roach will have Pacquiao fully focused. I strongly feel if Pacquiao can focus 100%, he can beat Mayweather. If not, Mayweather has an easy time with him.”

Twitter: @latimespugmire

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