HOLLYWOOD, Ca.-Thousands gathered in the streets of Hollywood below the iconic circular Capitol Records building where music legends Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and many others shelled out successful record careers.
On a sweaty Thursday afternoon the musicians stepped aside as boxing took over like an avalanche as fans gathered to glimpse at middleweights Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez as they closed out their three-stop press tour.
Sinatra was a boxing fan. It would have tickled him to see the response.
There was no “Summer Wind” on this summer afternoon but fans gathered as early as 2 p.m. to be in position to greet Canelo or GGG. Both world champions were not expected until 5 p.m.
It didn’t matter.
Fans took the subway (yes Martha there is a subway in Los Angeles) to Hollywood and Vine to walk a block over to the Avalon Theater. It was a strange mix of Hollywood celebrities in their limousines and hardcore blue collar fans walking on the sidewalks to see the two top middleweights.
“This was a fight that was in the making for a year and a half,” said Oscar De La Hoya, the owner of Golden Boy Promotions. “It’s better than waiting seven years.”
That was a dig at the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight that fizzled when it finally happened in 2015 after many years of talk.
Hundreds of media representatives showed up for the affair and lined up for more than an hour to be allowed entrance to the theater. Once entering the media was treated to gourmet appetizers and free liquor. This lasted two hours as the media was separated from the V.I.P.s.
The class struggle continues.
Finally, around 7 p.m. the guests of honor showed up including middleweight legend Bernard Hopkins whose record of 20 consecutive middleweight title defenses could be shattered by Golovkin.
“I never expected it to last forever,” said Hopkins who is an important member of Golden Boy Promotions. “I was hoping for 50 years from now.”
The last man standing according to Golovkin is Saul “Canelo” Alvarez who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
“Canelo is a special guy, he is not a regular guy. I don’t know who would stay close to us in the middleweight division,” said Golovkin, 35, before more than a dozen boxing reporters in the upstairs lounge at the Avalon. “If he beats me he is better. If I beat him I am better.”
Hopkins has been part of two middleweight tournaments. Oscar De La Hoya has been involved in one. In that tournament in 2004 De La Hoya beat Germany’s Felix Sturm, but lost to Hopkins who had earlier defeated Robert Allen. Like this fight, De La Hoya was a super welterweight moving up to middleweight and was holding his own until the ninth round.
Can Alvarez make the ascent to the 160-pound division against the best and strongest of them all? He says his super welterweight world title fight against Liam Smith last September convinced him it was time to make the move despite winning by knockout.
“The fight with Liam smith I realized it was difficult and could not make the weight any more. I felt different in my legs,” said Alvarez, 26, of Guadalajara. “With (Julio Cesar) Chavez my legs felt very strong.”
Wait is Over
After two years of fans wanting this match, Mexico’s redheaded Alvarez claims the timing couldn’t be better to decide who is not only the best middleweight, but the best fighter in the world period.
“This fight has arrived at the best moment for me. I’m more mature. I’m stronger. I’m a better fighter and I’m more experienced than I was two years ago,” said Alvarez dressed like a model for GQ Magazine. “It’s plain and simple; whoever wins this fight plainly has to be pound for pound the best fighter in the world.”
Just as Alvarez spoke, loud cheers from outside could be heard through the sound proof walls as someone opened a door. Cheers were erupting for Golovkin and cheers were heard for Canelo. Fans waited for hours under the 90 degree heat to see their heroes.
“The middleweight division has always delivered in any era. You go from Sugar Ray Robinson to the 4 Kings then you have Bernard Hopkins run of more than 20 defenses,” said De La Hoya. “Now you have Canelo and Triple G. I believe it will deliver just like any other.”
Like Sinatra’s film you would have to have a “Hole in the Head” not to believe so.
Photo credit: Tom Hogan / Golden Boy Promotions
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