Champions in boxing, unlike traditional team sports, are determined by the result of one single participant victory over another. Surely the training and coaching have a role, but simply put, in boxing, it’s your fists versus your opponents. However, in order to to increase your marketability, fan base and earning potential, you need to defeat a fighter who already has that lofty standing, whether earned or not.
Oscar De La Hoya was a U.S Olympic gold medalist, world champion, and annihilating all challengers. However Oscar never fully crossed over until he beat his nemesis, Mexican great Julio Cesar Chavez. At that point time, Chavez’s pound for pound standing was questionable after having a controversial draw against Pernell Whitaker and losing to Frankie Randall, but Oscar still needed to go out there and defeat Chavez to seize that mega earning potential. Same goes for Floyd Mayweather Jr., an amateur star and multi-division weight champion. Floyd toiled in somewhat obscurity until he assumed that superstar mantle, defeating, ironically enough, Oscar De La Hoya, who already was defeated by Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins.
Fast forward to 2016 and we see that same scenario developing again. Gennady Golovkin, “GGG”, the undefeated IBF and WBA world middleweight, consensus best in weight is seeking his shot at superstar status. The man whom Golovkin most take that from is Saul “Canelo” Alvarez”, WBC middleweight champion and cash cow. Why would a man like Golovkin, who’s held a belt at middleweight since 2010 be chasing Canelo who’s only been at middleweight since November of last year? Well, that’s boxing for you, you got to beat THE guy to be THAT guy.
ThaBoxingVoice’s Sean Zittel recently caught up with Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, at Big Bear, CA, to shed some light on the progress of the potential Canelo vs GGG mega fight.
“As far as the Canelo fight, it’s not really Canelo were after, (it’s the) WBC belt, Gennady has made it clear to the team that he wants to be unified champion and Canelo holds the WBC belt, the WBC has mandated he has to fight, after (May 7th) they have to declare whether they want to fight Gennady or not, but Canelo is not the important one, it’s the WBC belt, once he gets the unified belt, all of them, then Canelo if Canelo wishes to fight him in 2017 will then so be it, right now the belts (are) what’s important to him”.
Belts are important, but prestige and earning potential might be thought as equally important from a fighter’s perspective. Notice how Sanchez is alluding to the desire to capture Canelo’s belt but even if Golovkin was win the WBC crown, he still would have to fight another middleweight champ, Billy Joe Saunders to become unified. What makes Canelo more attractive than Saunders? You guessed it, money & power.
Team Canelo does not appear to want to grant Team Golovkin the shot at the mantle so easily. Canelo won his middleweight crown at catchweight verse Miguel Cotto and is making his first defense at a catchweight against a naturally smaller fighter in Amir Khan, a fight most expect Canelo to win.
To date, it appears Sanchez has grown somewhat frustrated at Canelo’s reluctance to fight at the true middleweight limit of 160 pounds, “What I’m disappointed in is the fact he’s fighting for the middleweight title but not at middleweight, he’s dictating terms as far as what weight guys can fight at, if he wishes to fight at 155, it’s a 160 lb belt, let the opponent come in at 160, the opponent should come in at 160, it’s the middleweight title.”
The WBC has mandated that Team Canelo and Team Golovkin must agree to fight immediately after the Khan defense in May. There’s some who believe Canelo will decline GGG mandatory and perhaps move back down to 154. And why not, as Canelo is a walking ATM machine and still sell pay per view’s regardless of belt or weight class.
I’m one who’s not buying into the notion Canelo vacates. Team GGG needs Canelo’s name on his resume. There is some middle ground here, in way of negotiation. Golden Boy, Canelo’s promotional company has leverage but will take a P.R. hit if their fighter “ducks” GGG. Expect a scenario where Team Canelo, in essence, “buys” pounds from Team GGG. Will GGG take the fight if he had to make, hypothetically 158 pounds for a seven-figure incentive? Yes, GGG would have to sacrifice but he’d be increasing his purse and more importantly, have the opportunity to ascend into superstar status. Typically these opportunities don’t come often in the sport, bank on Canelo vs GGG happening sooner than you think.