By Marc Livitz in Las Vegas: As is customary whenever Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Jr. is set to fight, the epicenter of the boxing universe shifts to his every move in and out of the ring. The week’s official press conferences concluded this afternoon at the MGM Grand with the focus now on the undercard, most notably the WBC featherweight title showdown between undefeated Abner Mares (25(13)-0-1, Guadalajara, MX) and titleholder Daniel Ponce de Leon (44(35)-4(1), Cuauhtemoc, MX).
Despite the jettisoning of Saul "Canelo" Alvarez from the evening’s events after a fallout of sorts with the Mayweather camp, the quality lineup to precede the showdown between Mayweather, Jr. and Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero for the Ring Magazine welterweight crown has the potential to be in a class of its own. In addition to the clash between Mares and Ponce de Leon, the vacant USBA junior featherweight title is up for grabs between Los Angeles fighter Leo Santa Cruz (23(13)-0-1) and Venezuelan Alexander Munoz (36(28)-4).
Rounding out the undercard of the Showtime televised Pay Per View telecast is a bout for the vacant NABF middleweight title which will feature undefeated Las Vegas native J’Leon Love (15(8)-0) and Philadelphia fighter Gabriel Rosado (21(13)-6).
Selected quotes below. Stay connected to SecondsOut for updates from Vegas as well as tomorrow’s weigh in.
Golden Boy Promotions President Oscar De la Hoya: "This is a huge weekend for boxing. Mayweather is back with a vengeance and he is facing a difficult, young and motivated Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero."
"The undercard is just as important. Abner Mares versus Daniel Ponce de Leon is a war. Mares moves forward and fights with great passion. Ponce de Leon knows this is the fight of his life. This is a tremendous fight and I can even see a trilogy in the future. "
"We also have Leo Santa Cruz versus Alexander Munoz. You instantly think of excitement, punches in bunches and lots of heart when you when you hear the name of Santa Cruz. Munoz is here to win. I have seen his fights and studied his fights. This is a fight we were looking forward to because we will get action and fireworks."
CEO of Mayweather Promotions Leonard Ellerbe: "Every great main event needs a terrific undercard. I really wouldn’t classify this as an undercard. At Mayweather Promotiions, we have a young group of fighting stars. We have Lanell Bellows, Luis Arias, Badou Jack and Ronald Gavril on the undercard. To open up the Pay Per View show, we have a great fight. Our fighter J’Leon Love came to me after his last fight and told me, "I want to fight (Gabriel) Rosado." This will be a tremendous fight to open up the telecast."
Gabriel Rosado: "I am excited about this fight and I know J’Leon (Love) will bring his "A" game. I don’t think he has the experience to beat me. I am ready and we’ve had a great camp."
J’Leon Love: "There’s no bad blood with team Rosado and I. He came up short in his last fight (Gennady Golovkin). I have been fighting all of my life and this is no step up for me. I have skill and I know how to use it. I will be victorious on May 4."
Showtime President Stephen Espinoza: "This is a fabulous undercard. These aren’t filler fights. These are not "no name" fighters. This is the highest quality undercard perhaps in recent memory. We have a few fighters that could’ve been considered as a "Fighter of the Year" candidates. This is in the great tradition of Morales/Barrera and Vazquez/Marquez. I feel Mares and Ponce de Leon could be of the same quality. We are using sixteen cameras for this fight and that is the most we have ever used. We are completely devoted to this evening of boxing."
Alexander Munoz: "This will be a great fight. I know Santa Cruz is an undefeated fighter. I know that I can win this fight and make all my people in Venezuela proud."
Leo Santa Cruz: "I intend to show the world who Leo Santa Cruz is on Saturday. This is the biggest fight of my life and it’s on the biggest stage. On Saturday I will try to finish him inside of ten rounds."
Abner Mares: "This will be a tremendous fight. I thank Ponce de Leon for giving me my first fight at 126 (featherweight). You all know me. I will fight anyone. This is a tough fight, but I’ve trained hard. I have added "Mexican Judo" to my training. "Judo know if I’m gonna box, judo know if I’m gonna punch, but "Ju Know" that I’m going to win".
WBC Featherweight Champion Daniel Ponce de Leon: "We are ready for a war. I have prepared well for this fight and I will leave it all in the ring. I feel great and I am hoping for a great fight."
May 2, 2013