Conspiracy Theory – On Nov. 21, 2013, the day before the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, director and noted conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone weighed in on the subject for an opinion piece that ran in USA Today.
“History is a struggle of the memory,” wrote Stone, who came down squarely on the side of a governmental cover-up in his controversial 1991 film, JFK. “But when the counter evidence is stifled, we are closer to a Soviet-era manufacturing of history in which the mainstream media deeply discredit our country and continue to demean our common sense. We must always question those who tell us what to think.”
As New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who brought businessman Clay Shaw to trial for his alleged role in facilitating the assassination of a sitting U.S. President (Shaw was acquitted), Kevin Costner notes that sealed records pertaining to JFK’s death won’t be opened to the public until 2029, and he expresses the hope that his young son will live long enough to find out what truly happened: (a) that the facts either confirm the official version, as outlined in the Warren Report, that the heinous crime was committed by a lone assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, or (b) as Garrison so passionately maintained, it was an elaborate plot conceived and carried out by multiple co-conspirators with the knowledge and approval of highly placed power brokers.
It remains to be seen whether Mr. Stone ever gets around to serving as the director/screenwriter for a film dealing with the potential death blow to the much-anticipated Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez middleweight unification fight. For now, though, it already is a tale so rife with intrigue and speculation that the only way to ever definitely answer all the questions is for the bout to actually take place. And if it never does … well, hopefully we won’t have to wait until 2029 or thereabouts for sealed documents to be made public so boxing fans can find out for sure to whom primary blame should be assigned, and to what purpose.
The official version (i.e., Oswald did it) comes from Alvarez’s promotional company, Golden Boy, which explained Canelo’s voluntary relinquishment of his WBC championship on the grounds that neither the sport’s most marketable fighter nor GBP executives thought it in their best interests to adhere to the “arbitrary” mandate of the World Boxing Council that Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KOs) and his handlers had a mere 15 days to agree to a bout with mandatory challenger Golovkin (35-0, 32 KOs), the WBC “interim” middleweight titlist who also holds the WBA, IBF and IBO versions of the 160-pound crown.
“For the entirety of my career, I have taken the fights that no one wanted because I fear no man,” Alvarez, who retained his title with an emphatic, one-punch knockout of Amir Khan in the sixth round on May 7, said in a statement. “Never has that been more true than today (May 17). I will fight `GGG,’ and I will beat `GGG,’ but I will not be forced into the ring by artificial deadlines. I am hopeful that by putting aside this ticking clock, the two teams can now negotiate this fight, and `GGG’ and I can get in the ring as soon as possible and give the fans the fight they want to see.”
Insisting that Alvarez is too important a figure to have to adhere to such a compacted time limit, Golden Boy founder and CEO Oscar De La Hoya said, “There is no denying that Canelo is the biggest star in the sport of boxing. He is eager to get in the ring with `GGG’ to show the world that he is also the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, but we won’t negotiate under a forced deadline. Now that the WBC title is off the table, I am hopeful that `GGG’ and his promoter K2 Promotions will come to the table in good faith and get this deal done.”
It all sounds at least somewhat reasonable, particularly if you are an Alvarez idolator, but there is, as always, an alternative version of what passes for the truth. Even before Canelo’s surprising (or expected) announcement that he was voluntarily relinquishing his green WBC belt, rumors were circulating that he, De La Hoya or both would manufacture an excuse for the fight not to take place because (a) they knew Golovkin, arguably the most fearsome puncher in any weight class, would win in typically devastating fashion, or (b) it simply was the smart business move to take less risky fights for fat purses in which the Mexican superstar would command the lion’s share of the swag.
It is the sort of fascinatingly murky waters that conspiracy theorists love to dive into, and from which a dripping Stone would emerge to fashion a plot in which De La Hoya, or someone fitting his general description, was spotted on a figurative grassy knoll, and the shadowy governmental powers-that-be with a secret agenda were wearing sports jackets with tape only partially concealing WBC logos.
Serving as a de facto Warren Commission, I hereby offer bits and pieces of evidence that could support or refute whichever version of the argument individual fight fans choose to believe.
*Although he did not deposit his WBC belt into a trash can, as the organization’s then-heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe did in London on Dec. 14, 1992, Alvarez’s abdication at least raises the possibility that history is repeating itself. Bowe, who continued to hold the WBA and IBF titles, and his manager, Rock Newman, maintained that they would not be pressured into making their next WBC defense against Lennox Lewis, who had won a WBC elimination bout in London that took place two weeks earlier when he stopped Razor Ruddock in two rounds, in much the same manner that he had bombed out Bowe in two rounds in the gold-medal bout at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
“The WBC is wrong, and I will not be intimidated by them,” Bowe announced. “I am the heavyweight champion of the world, and today I withdraw my recognition of the WBC. For as long as I am champion, I will not recognize or defend this dishonest belt.”
Although both Bowe and Newman professed that they were ready, willing and able to take on Lewis at a time of their choosing, that fight never happened, and to this day Bowe has been dogged by the suspicion in some quarters that his trash-can act was done not so much out of principle as out of the belief that Lewis again would do unto him what he did in South Korea.
*Although then-WBC president Jose Sulaiman and Bowe never were on close enough terms to exchange Christmas cards, the same can’t be said of Alvarez’s warm and fuzzy relationship with the late Sulaiman’s son and successor, Mauricio Sulaiman. It was widely considered a break from accepted WBC procedure when Sulaiman the younger directed that the Alvarez-Khan winner, which was correctly expected to be Alvarez, make his following title defense against Golovkin. WBC executive rulings involving Mexican or Mexican-American fighters in the past almost without exception seemed to be to their benefit, particularly if said fighter was a national hero or especially popular. (Think Julio Cesar Chavez, J.C. Chavez Jr. and, come to think of it, De La Hoya.)
If – and this is purely for purposes of spirited conversation – WBC bigwigs were aware beforehand that Alvarez would abdicate his WBC title after beating Khan rather than to defend against Golovkin, the WBC’s strongly worded defense of “GGG’s” mandatory rights would ring hollow.
*Honesty is always the best policy, unless it is detrimental to protecting your company’s primary asset. In the days leading up to Canelo-Khan, De La Hoya praised Khan, a 7-to-1 underdog, for “daring to be great” by accepting the challenge of going up against the bigger, stronger and harder-hitting champion. Oscar said he could appreciate Khan’s refreshing boldness because, during his own career, he had ducked no one while daring to be great.
But Golden Boy executive Bernard Hopkins, who also knows a thing or two about daring to be great, is notorious for telling the truth, as he sees it. He recently offered his thoughts that a Golovkin-Alvarez matchup, while undoubtedly a major event, was not necessary to take place for the vastly popular Canelo to continue to be the goose that lays golden eggs for Golden Boy.
“Look, Oscar has made or might make some decisions he might be criticized for – no, he will be criticized for – but so what?” Hopkins said a couple of weeks ago with typically refreshing candor. “He is in the business of being a promoter. As a fighter, he dared to be great. As a promoter, he can’t dare to be stupid. He has to make the right business move for his fighter, and the fact is that `Triple G’ stands to gain more from winning that fight. Of course, if Canelo wins, he becomes even more of a megastar than he already is. But he’s a megastar already.”
Translation: Canelo will be paid handsomely, if not quite as much so, for fighting less-dangerous middleweights than Golovkin or by returning to the super welterweight division he previously dominated and still considers to be the best fit for his body type. Remember, he has demanded that all five of his middleweight bouts be at a catch weight of 155 pounds, a requirement that his opponents agreed to because it would have been financially imprudent to do otherwise. But Golovkin, a full-fledged middleweight, had insisted that he tangle with Alvarez at a contract limit of 160 because that is what real middleweight champions do, or at least are supposed to do, especially if multiple titles are on the line.
*Mexican pride in the ring is a fact of life, and is not something to be overlooked or underestimated. That is the nationalistic mantra espoused by both WBC super featherweight champion Francisco Vargas and challenger Orlando Salido, Mexican tough guys who clash June 4 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. When asked about their country’s history of producing legendary boxers who would rather march through hell wearing gasoline overcoats than to ever quit inside in the ropes, each said he is “willing to die” on fight night rather than to fail to live up to the high standards set by his pugilistic forebears.
“We give it all we got,” said Vargas, who, it should be noted, is a Golden Boy fighter whose ninth-round TKO of Japan’s Takashi Miura on Nov. 21 was voted as the 2015 Fight of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America. “We give it all we got in training, and when it comes time to fight, we fight with our hearts. I believe that is what makes Mexican fighters special. You are willing to pay any cost to win.”
Words, of course, are a cheap commodity. Actions always count for more, and there is a lingering belief – OK, it might be as much fervent desire on the part of fight fans as anything – that the sentiments expressed by Vargas and, yes, Alvarez are sincere and heartfelt. When Alvarez hears the inevitable whispers from his countrymen that he is “afraid” of Golovkin or “ducking” him for whatever reason, his sense of machismo will erupt like a volcano and he will demand that De La Hoya get him a date with Golovkin because he needs to find out for himself just who is the best of the best.
At this point, nobody knows how it all will play out. The public waited nearly six years, which is probably five years past its natural expiration date, for Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao to come off, and when it did it was an artistic dud. Lewis-Bowe, as pros, never went beyond the wishing-and-hoping phase. The matchups of our dreams sometime remain stuck in the realm of imagination.
“I’m still 100 percent confident that the fight will happen,” K2’s Tom Loeffler said after his guy, Golovkin, was presented the WBC title by decree instead of winning it with his fists, as he had intended. “If Canelo was afraid to fight Gennady he wouldn’t have called him in the ring (after the Khan fight). He called him in the ring out of respect and to show he wasn’t afraid of Gennady.”
Until it happens, one can only surmise that Oliver Stone will be monitoring the situation because a good conspiracy theory should never go to waste.