LAS VEGAS — For long-suffering boxing fans, it was a sight to behold late Saturday at T-Mobile Arena: Canelo and Triple G in the ring together. Not to fight, but to announce “The Fight.”
A fight that has been simmering for the last year and keeping the boxing world guessing. Will it ever happen? Everybody had an opinion.
Finally, you have your answer: It’s on.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 knockouts), the 26-year-old current face of the sport, a powerful and skilled Mexican fighter with the distinctive shock of red hair, and 35-year-old Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs), the cherubic champion from Kazakhstan, the most feared puncher in boxing, will decide Sept. 16 who is the best middleweight in the world. Golovkin is the unified champion and Alvarez remains the lineal champ.
This is probably the best fight that can be made in boxing. And the timing couldn’t be better. It’s coming on the heels of the best heavyweight fight in years one week earlier, before 90,000 screaming, singing fans at Wembley Stadium in London, when Anthony Joshua knocked out Wladimir Klitschko.
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The matchup that Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya said will be titled “Bombs Away” was signed and sealed last week, he said, well before Alvarez destroyed Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. over 12 rounds Saturday in their grudge match before a frenzied sellout crowd of 20,510.
Obviously, De La Hoya had confidence that Alvarez, a 4-1 favorite, would dispatch his hated rival. And he did, by shutout. Three judges, three scores of 120-108. Chavez, with both eyes nearly swollen shut and bruises on his face from Alvarez’s target practice, admitted afterward that Canelo proved himself the best Mexican boxer.
“He knows what he’s doing in there,” Chavez said. “He’s very smart. Mexican people should follow him. He does things right; he’s dedicated. He works hard. He showed it tonight. (Sergio Martinez) was better. But I think (Canelo) is the best Mexican fighter at this time.”
Asked if he resented Golden Boy announcing the Golovkin-Alvarez fight so quickly after their mismatch ended, Chavez said, “I don’t feel anything about them announcing another fight. I did the best that I could, and my body just wouldn’t do the things that I wanted it to do. That’s just what happened tonight.”
Chavez offered his opinion on Triple G-Canelo: “It’s a tough fight, a good fight. I think Canelo showed tonight he will be tough to beat. I think Golovkin will be the favorite, but it’s a 50-50 fight.”
Likewise, Alvarez put his heated rivalry with Chavez Jr. in his rearview mirror.
“This chapter’s over; I won the fight. I enjoyed it, every single round,” he said. “I had fun, and that’s what I do. I love boxing.”
And boxing has some love for him for giving the sport some badly needed cache by agreeing to the fall fight with Golovkin. Boxing, which has struggled with its popularity since the Mayweather-Pacquiao debacle two years ago — not one pay-per-view fight has approached 1 million buys since then — is finally getting matchups worthy of the sport’s storied history. There have been a few already in 2017: Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia, Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (on the same card), Joshua-Klitschko and, in September, it will get Golovkin-Alvarez. All have delivered the goods, and most believe GGG-Canelo will, too. And if Joshua and unbeaten American Deontay Wilder, two heavyweight giants, unify the titles in the near future, possibly later in 2017, that’s a can’t miss as well.
De La Hoya called Golovkin-Alvarez “the biggest fight in boxing history,” which is pure hyperbole, but it is big by today’s standards. What it really means is that boxing’s promoters are finally realizing that if they don’t match the best against the best, fans will stay away in droves.
De La Hoya, who fought the best during his Hall of Fame career, has always understood that.
“When you have fighters that want to make the best fights, it makes the job much easier, and we have an opportunity to bring boxing back,” he said.
“Boxing was on a hiatus. With these fights that you saw tonight, that you’re going to see in September, what you saw with Joshua, boxing is back.”