On 2nd May 2015, boxing crossed over into the mainstream during the buildup of the so-called ‘Fight Of the Century’ between modern greats Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. This was boxing’s big chance to increase its popularity and turn casual observers into hardcore fans of the sweet science. The anticipation and excitement for this contest reached fever pitch, but after 12 rounds we were left with a robbery. Not a robbery in the traditional sense, where a fighter is cruelly on the wrong end of a poor decision. Instead this was a robbery of the fans. Robbed of the hard-earned money they had spent on an event they were promised would be one for the ages. One that involved the two best boxers in the world, in the ring at the same time to settle a 5 year dispute over who was truly the finest fighter of their generation. What they received was 12 dull and dire rounds which left many viewers to wonder what the big deal was. Even many hardcore fans became dumbfounded into disillusionment with the sport. It was like attending a terrible party, expecting to have fun, only to wake up the next morning feeling regretful; with less money in your wallet, hungover and vowing never to drink again.
Then Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin was announced. Maybe not touted as ‘Fight Of The Century’, it is still the sort of super fight with great significance which the sport depends and thrives on. Last year I wrote a two-part piece stating that late 2017 would be the ideal time for this fight to happen, in order for it to be an exciting promotion to entice the public, whilst providing the entertainment in the ring to keep them coming back (Part 1 and Part 2).
Many knowledgeable fans and media salivated over the thought of Alvarez and Golovkin meeting in the ring in 2016. However, for this fight to be embraced as a legitimate super fight, Golovkin needed to be a more recognisable name in order to aid the marketing and promotion of the bout. Equally Canelo needed to convince many that he was capable of going to war with the Kazakh monster and not be battered around the ring in a mismatch.
Since then, Golovkin has done well to increase his name recognition. Defeating Kell Brook at the O2 Arena In London and then Daniel Jacobs at Madison Square Garden in New York. Good contests, against popular boxers, held at famous venues. He won both fights and gained new fans (and haters) along the way, eager to see where his path of destruction would lead to next. Canelo on the other hand is already possibly the most marketable boxer on Earth. The doubts were surrounding his ability. However, he destroyed Amir Khan, dismantled Liam Smith and dominated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. It would be reasonable to say they are not names that strike fear into opponents but all are competent with varying skills and attributes. Canelo adapted to their styles and made improvements to his game. He looks strong and sturdy at the heavier weight, he punches with authority and has further sharpened his skill set.
Unlike Mayweather-Pacquiao who fought 5 years later than they should have, the timing of Canelo-Golovkin is ideal. Mayweather and Pacquiao had already achieved remarkable things before their eventual showdown. Both with ‘Hall Of Fame’ worthy resumes and a number of signature wins. Perhaps the comfort of guaranteed record earnings for their fight and secured legacies dimmed the burning desire they once had. Although still fantastically skilled fighters, their appetite for destruction and the ability to cause it had waned past their imperious bests and their styles simply did not mesh into a blend of pulsating excitement that the fans were expecting. For Mayweather and Pacquiao it was an opportunity to build their bank balances, not their legacies.
Golovkin and Canelo are in a different situation. Although clearly talented and with a number of notable names that they claim as victims, their resumes are still doubted as both lack that one signature victory that would illuminate their records. It leaves them with something to prove in order to rid themselves of the proverbial monkey on their back. No amount of money can buy the scalp of the other, so when they come face to face in the ring, it can be expected that two wonderfully skilled technicians, with dynamite in either hand will be looking to pound and pulverise their adversary to prove themselves the better man. Though defensively capable, both gain ultimate satisfaction in ruthlessly dispatching their opponents with savage stoppages and will trade explosive bombs in hope that they will achieve this. Canelo, the younger man at 26, enjoying his physical peak and Golovkin, although 35 years old, is still a fantastic fighting specimen. Both will be ready and prime to do battle in what could live up to the title of ‘super fight’. Pride is at stake, as the victor will no longer be looked at suspiciously as a potential fraud but as a legend, mentioned in the same breath as the greats before him. Blood, sweat and tears will be shed in the ring as they muster every bit of will and skill in pursuit of undeniable respect and the taste of sweet success.
Finally! This could be the moment when the public that experienced an agonising hangover from the fiasco that was Mayweather-Pacquiao, will crawl out from their beds and be ready to join the boxing party once again.