Forget last month’s ‘Farce of the Century’, the real blockbuster fight happens this weekend at the same Las Vegas venue.
The boxing community’s eyes will all be focused on the T-Mobile Arena again as Gennady “GGG” Golovkin goes toe to toe with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a middleweight matchup guaranteed to restore the faith in purists.
Even as he trained for Conor McGregor last month, Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr.’s thoughts turned to Saturday’s anticipated clash between unbeaten, three-belt champion Golovkin and his Mexican challenger.
Mayweather cruised to a majority decision victory over a 23-year-old Alvarez in 2013, but insisted that Alvarez punched harder than any opponent he had faced. But Mayweather was a 147-pound welterweight coming up from lighter divisions and Alvarez had boiled himself down to make the 152-pound limit the bout was made at. He was probably weight drained and Mayweather took full advantage in the second half of the bout as Alvarez faded.
Alvarez faces in Golovkin a full-blown 160-pound middleweight who has never even come close to defeat in his 37 bouts, including 33 knockouts.
Mayweather’s tip for victory is to go to the body to slow down the 35-year-old Kazakhstani. Alvarez is a fearsome body puncher but he must catch the elusive Golovkin to do so.
After stopping McGregor by 10th-round technical knockout three weeks ago, Mayweather insisted he was retired for
good this time, a point he reiterated on a Showtime boxing telecast last Friday in Las Vegas. But we’ve heard it many times before from the Moneyman. The lure of another bumper pay day could still tempt him back.
A rematch with Alvarez, 27, would certainly be a lucrative bout that would be difficult for the brash American to pass up after drawing more than four million pay-per-view buys against UFC champion McGregor and banking around $200 million in the process.
Alvarez is so idolised in Mexico, that four years ago, his meeting with Mayweather set a then-record of $150m in sales from 2.2 million pay-per-view buys.
If Alvarez can wrest the throne from Golovkin, widely considered be the planet’s No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer, that rematch would certainly surpass their previous encounter. Yes, Mayweather achieved his record 50th unbeaten win against McGregor, but it was a hollow victory against the UFC fighter making his boxing debut. The criticism will haunt the 40-year-old champ forever. He beat Rocky Marciano’s unblemished record of 49-0 but even the Rock’s family are mocking Mayweather for claiming the new record because McGregor, they justifiably claim, was not a viable opponent.
Mayweather has never been interested in fighting Golovkin, even at a catch weight limit of 154 pounds because he knows the danger. A humiliating and painful defeat would be the most likely outcome.
Golovkin is defending his World Boxing Association, World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation middleweight belts on the HBO card while Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) attempts to stamp this era as his now that Mayweather is out of the spotlight – for now. For Cayman Islands viewers, the fight will start around 7:50 p.m. Pacific time which is 9:50 p.m. in Cayman.
The undercard promises to be interesting. In the 10-round opener, lightweight Ryan Martin (19-0, 11 KOs) meets Mexico’s Francisco Rojo (20-2, 13 KOs), who has never been knocked down or stopped.
Then, promoter Oscar De La Hoya’s cousin, Diego De La Hoya (19-0, 9 KOs) of Mexico, meets California’s former bantamweight world champion Randy Caballero (24-0, 14 KOs) in a 10-round super-bantamweight bout.
Unbeaten featherweight Joseph Diaz Jr. (24-0, 13 KOs) fights for the right to meet WBC champion Gary Russell Jr. next when he confronts hard-punching Jorge Lara (29-0-2, 21 KOs) of Mexico in a bout scheduled for 12 rounds.
For a bout of this magnitude, media access to the protagonists should have been a mere formality, but De La Hoya has limited that which has restricted the drum beating of potentially the best contest in years in the bitter aftermath of the Mayweather-McGregor debacle.
Golovkin said he too wanted to eliminate the media distraction which compromised his daily two-hour sessions in the gym, enhanced by runs and conditioning in Big Bear. But working with the media is part and parcel of such events.
Selling the fight to a global audience is as vital as actually training for it.
“This is the biggest fight for us,” Golovkin said Sunday in a promotional appearance for the bout while at Dodger Stadium, where he threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
He explained he was only doing a few media spots because of the immense importance of the contest. Nevertheless, a balance needs to be met.
Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions, said Alvarez made a conscious decision to concentrate on training even if it did cost him pay-per-view buys by engaging in fewer interviews.
Golovkin said when it came to this fight, he decided legacy trumps some extra cash. A little disappointing but refreshing at the same time because these warriors are evidently prepared to leave it all in the ring, not at a theatrical press conference. But the trash talking and excesses in the buildup paid off for Mayweather and McGregor. Their spectacle attracted at least the second-best pay-per-view audience of all time with more than four million buys.
Promoter Tom Loeffler said he expects Alvarez-Golovkin to produce only one million buys, as did Alvarez’s May victory by unanimous decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Brilliant as he is, Golovkin has yet to reach 200,000 buys in either of his two pay-per-views, against David Lemieux (2015) and Daniel Jacobs (in March).
“It’ll do as big as Canelo-Chavez and should do really well with the combination of the fan bases,” Loeffler said.
He may have restricted his media appearances but Golovkin has a legitimate distraction elsewhere; on Friday, his wife, Alina, gave birth to the couple’s second child and first daughter.
Even the arrival of his cherub could not take him out of fight mentality. No waxing lyrical of the multiple joys of fatherhood here. “I just want to talk about my business now — my boxing — not my family,” Golovkin said. “My focus now is boxing.” Alvarez looks set for a painful and disappointing night as the king retains all his crowns.