Ever since lineal middleweight title holder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 47-1-1 (33) demolished Amir Khan in his last fight earlier this month, and then announced that he’s relinquishing his WBC title, the boxing world has been going crazy. Alvarez, who says he’s giving up the WBC belt because he doesn’t want to be dictated to by the organization, isn’t getting the benefit of the doubt from a majority of the boxing media and fans. Most believe the real reason he’s pulling a Riddick Bowe with the belt is because he fears and doesn’t want to face the perceived alpha fighter in the middleweight division, multiple belt holder Gennady Golovkin 35-0 (32).
As usual the fans and media are crying their hearts out that Alvarez is depriving them of the fight they most want to see — although in my view Andre Ward 29-0 (15) versus Sergey Kovalev 29-0-1 (26) is a far more intriguing and more difficult fight to handicap than a bout between Alvarez and Golovkin. However, HBO and the likes have continually belabored how Alvarez-Golovkin is must-see, much in the same way they did regarding the six year build- up before we finally realized a dud better known as Mayweather-Pacquiao.
In case you’ve missed it, with the absence of Floyd Mayweather from the current boxing scene, Canelo is the biggest draw in the sport. What constitutes a fighter being a big draw? Well, it’s a simple deduction – said fighter announces who he’s fighting and then the receipts are tabulated. Canelo fought a junior welterweight in his last bout as a heavy favorite and the fight was a moderate success financially, and that was despite the fact that there wasn’t a single boxing observer who knew anything worth knowing about ring combat who gave Khan a snowball’s chance to win. Opposed to Golovkin, whose only PPV bout as the headliner against a legitimate and hard punching opponent in David Lemieux, ended up being a financial disaster, registering roughly 150,000 buys. That’s fascinating! Fans and writers praise Golovkin as being the next great must-see fighter, yet they didn’t turn out to see him fight a real opponent when they had to pay for it. And that’s the reason why I’m tired of hearing writers and fans cry like a baby because Alvarez is ducking Golovkin.
Every time Golovkin and Alvarez fight from this point on, both will be asked when they’re going to face the other after the bout. In the interim most fans and pundits will praise GGG for being the man and they’ll ridicule Alvarez for being a coward and more businessman than fighter. And while doing that they’ll continue to pay to watch Alvarez, who really should fight Golovkin while the fight remains hot, because he could easily be upset by some of the up and coming junior middleweights nipping at his heels, all the while they’ll be watching Golovkin on HBO.
To a lesser degree pro boxing at the highest level is like the NFL; in other words its bullet proof. Most NFL fans will watch any game if it is on television; it doesn’t have to involve their favorite or home team. They just love football. When it comes to elite fighters who have a broad following, the same holds true. If you doubt that – explain the phenomenon of Floyd Mayweather and why he was such a huge draw. Mayweather seldom, if ever, fought who the fans most wanted to see him fight. His fights weren’t terribly exciting and because of when they were made there was never a doubt regarding the outcome, with the possible exception of when he fought Diego Corrales.
I get it; hardcore boxing fans want to see the best fight the best. We shouldn’t have to beg and plead with these guys in order for them to fight the opponents we most want to see them touch gloves with. If that applies to you, here’s an unsolicited suggestion…Don’t buy another Alvarez bout until he fights Golovkin! If you stand your ground Alvarez will have no choice but to fight him. What do you think would happen if Alvarez fought one of the Charlo brothers in his next bout and it only did 90,000 buys? I’ll tell you what would happen – Oscar De La Hoya would be flying out to meet with Tom Loeffler trying to make the match.
Sadly fans have a short memory. For six years the media and the fans tried to badger and embarrass Mayweather into fighting Pacquiao and it didn’t work. After Mayweather made his comeback against Juan Manuel Marquez, a bout between him and Pacquiao was an instant blockbuster. Yet Floyd milked the public for seven more bouts and probably close to $150 million dollars before he finally agreed to fight Pacquiao. And the reason for that was simple, the fans finally got tired of being gouged and ripped off and basically revolted against him fighting anybody else but Pacquiao. The only sad part about that was, it took them paying for seven bouts in which there was never a doubt about the outcome before they finally caught on.
Alvarez doesn’t have the cachet and following that Mayweather did, but he’s the biggest draw today and can pocket millions for fighting anybody he wants because there’s a core constituent of fans who will pay for his bouts regardless of the opponent. So don’t blame Canelo for trying to push back a bout with the fighter who is the biggest threat to beat him. By waiting it out, Golovkin ages and Alvarez accumulates more money if fans continue to buy his future bouts. That’s smart on Alvarez’s part and if he can continue to get over like Floyd did, why would he stop?
Floyd Mayweather was TBE at managing his career and manipulating the media and fans. In the biggest fight of his career, you were ripped off after a six-year wait. Had fans stopped buying his fights after he fought Victor Ortiz, he would’ve fought Pacquiao in his next bout or two instead of Miguel Cotto and Robert Guerrero.
If you’re one of the fans crying in your cereal because Alvarez won’t fight Golovkin, how about showing your displeasure with your wallet by not buying his next bout. Wake up! Believe it or not you can force his hand by not showing up for his future bouts instead of paying and then being fed a song and a dance why the fight with Golovkin can’t happen. But its nonsense saying Alvarez is afraid of Golovkin. Canelo was fighting grown men at age 15; he’s not afraid of anybody, he’s making a business decision.
It’s amazing how much even seasoned viewers fail to understand that fighters, past a certain point of accomplishment, are never afraid to fight anyone. I’m not saying that I’ve never seen it, but it’s very rare that a fighter is genuinely scared. And their fear, when there is some, is almost always about not wanting to be embarrassed in front of people.
For the record, Alvarez-Golovkin excites me about as much as Mayweather-Pacquiao did, meaning that because I had to watch, I did, but for no other reason. Like Mayweather-Pacquiao, the outcome is a given if it happens in the next year, the only question is…does it go the distance or end by stoppage?
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com