Oscar De La Hoya, the promoter of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, recently gave those involved in the management of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, an ultimatum: Agree to our terms by noon PT Wednesday, June 13, or the fight is dead.
Noon came and went and the fight was dead, or so it seemed, but hold the phone. Two hours later the stalemate was finally broken and we have a fight. Canelo-GGG II, originally set for May 5, is back on again. The rematch will transpire on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, Mexican Independence Day weekend, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. As ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael noted, “In boxing, deadlines can be fluid.”
When Alvarez and Golovkin touch gloves in September, a full year will have elapsed since their first encounter. Their match at the T-Mobile Arena on September 16 of last year ended in a draw although the punch stats showed that GGG out-landed Canelo in 10 of the 12 rounds. It was an entertaining mill marred by the preposterous scorecard turned in by ringside judge Adalaide Byrd who awarded 10 rounds to Canelo (118-110).
At the onset of the fight, the crowd in the arena was overwhelmingly pro-Canelo. When the decision was announced there was loud booing. In the main, even Canelo’s most fervent rooters conceded that he was the beneficiary of a gift draw.
The purse for the first fight was 70/30 with Alvarez, who has the larger international following, raking in the lion’s share of the proceeds. Team Golovkin consented to a 65/35 divvy for the rematch – but that was before Canelo tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol and the match fell apart. He was subsequently suspended six months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, backdated to Feb. 17, the date of the first failed drug test.
Team Golovkin argued for purse parity. Oscar De La Hoya said “no way.” His final offer gave Golovkin 42 ½ percent of the receipts (although it’s possible he may have eventually budged a wee bit to keep the promotion alive beyond his appointed deadline).
The turnstile count for Canelo-GGG I was 22,358 (17,318 paid), the largest turnout for an indoor fight in the annals of boxing in Nevada. The live gate was the third largest, surpassed only by Mayweather-Pacquiao and Mayweather-McGregor.
The rematch may perform even better. The template was set by Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield.
Lewis-Holyfield I, contested at Madison Square Garden with all the significant heavyweight hardware on the line, ended in a draw. The decision was controversial in the extreme. Most everyone thought that Lewis won. He out-landed Holyfield in every round. The goat, as it were, was a female judge, Eugenia Williams, who came under heavy fire for scoring the fight in favor of Evander. She gave him seven rounds.
The great brouhaha dictated that there would be a rematch and to no surprise the sequel was even bigger. Lewis-Holyfield II, contested on Nov. 13, 1999 at the Thomas and Mack Center on the campus of UNLV, was a huge event, establishing a new Nevada record for gate receipts (a record that would be broken five times in the ensuing years).
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