By Francisco Salazar
Sept. 16 has finally here. The day boxing fans have circled on their calendar since May 6, when it was announced Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin will square off in their long-awaited showdown for middleweight supremacy.
The fight and the date could not have come at a more opportune time. Actually, some may say the fight is long overdue, considering this fight has been at the top of fight fans' wish-lists over the last two years or so.
'Letting a fight marinate' is a phrase longtime promoter Bob Arum has used for many years, but to those who follow the sport, Alvarez-Golovkin was close to getting overcooked.
Nonetheless, the fight is here and the boxing world will have their own version of the Super Bowl come tonight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The fight will headline a live four-bout 'HBO Pay-Per-View' broadcast, beginning at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT.
The Alvarez-Golovkin fight comes two weeks after the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight, which took place in the same venue. The fight was a dud, if you compare it to the pre-fight hype between the two sides, which included racist and homophobic rhetoric flung towards one another.
What was expected to be a sell-out was not even close to it, as attendance for Mayweather-McGregor was about 14,000, about 6,000 short of capacity.
The Alvarez-Golovkin fight is the opposite. The fight has long been a sellout for weeks and the only way to watch the fight is through secondary websites, like Stubhub.com, closed-circuit, or on pay-per-view.
Then again, Alvarez-Golovkin is a fight between the two best middleweights in boxing. Las Vegas betting sites tab Golovkin as the slight favorite for Saturday night, but Alvarez is the house fighter.
There was a media tour for Alvarez-Golovkin, with one stop in the Los Angeles area. Aside from the obligatory stare-down, there has been no trash talk between the two fighters and their respective sides.
What a concept, right? Put two of the best fighters in boxing in the same ring and the fight fans will respond. Not to mention, both fighters are at the peak of their careers and their styles compliment one another. Both have a significant number of pro fights, unlike McGregor, was making his pro debut as a fight, while Mayweather entered the ring as a pro for the 50th time.
The fight means so much to both fighters. For Golovkin, a native of Kazakhstan who now resides in Santa Monica, Saturday night is the culmination of accumulating world title fights and to fight on the big stages of the sport.
Golovkin (37-0, 33 knockouts) has the WBC, IBF, and WBA titles, but Alvarez owns the Ring Magazine belt and is considered the lineal world middleweight champion.
Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs), who resides in the boxing hotbed of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, will have the opportunity to silence critics who have accused him of avoiding Golovkin. A win could also cement his status as one of the great Mexican fighters.
The one common theme both fighters share is to give fans an impressive performance.
"It's a fight that all the fans and the media have been waiting for for years," said Alvarez, who is promoted by Oscar De La Hoya. "The is another fight that will go down in history. I can assure you that I will do my part and I will do my best to give you all a beautiful night. I always prepare myself to give the best. I'm going to go in there and win the fight."
Alvarez has fought numerous times in Las Vegas. Saturday night will mark the first time in his pro career Golovkin will fight in Las Vegas.
"It's amazing to be in Las Vegas," said Golovkin, who was an Olympic Silver Medalist in 2004. "But the bigger thing is the fight is finally here. I am Gennady Golovkin until I walk into the ring. And that's when I turn into 'Triple G.' It's not that I'm mean, or angry. I'm just more focused. This is the perfect fight for fans. And the perfect fight for me. I will enjoy it."
Tonight also marks an apex for Golden Boy Promotions over the last couple of years. About three years ago, the company looked like it was going under, considering many of their top fighters would leave the company and fight under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner.
It looks as though PBC is the entity having difficulties finding networks to broadcast their fights, with NBC, CBS, ESPN and Spike TV (just to name a few) have refused to work with the company. Golden Boy has flourished over the last couple of years, having their top fighters in televised bouts on HBO and ESPN.
Alvarez-Golovkin has been in the making for two years. The buildup to the fight has brought more anticipation and chatter, even amongst casual boxing fans.
Promoters of the show believe there will be a significant amount of people who will purchase the fight on pay-per-view or will closed-circuit tickets.
There is a significant stipulation in the fight, which could play a role in how this fight plays out. Alvarez reportedly has a rematch clause in the contract that he could exercise, if he loses to Golovkin. Alvarez can reportedly choose not to offer Golovkin a rematch should he win.
As Saturday night approaches, both fighters are itching to get in the ring.
"I've wanted him (Alvarez) because of the (Miguel) Cotto fight when he became the mandatory challenger (in 2015)," said Golovkin. "I'm old-school. I think there should just be one champion. All my career, I've been denied the fights I've wanted (Felix Sturm, (former Oxnard resident) Sergio Martinez, and Miguel Cotto). That ends Saturday night."
"(However), this fight will be the biggest gift to the people."
"Anything can happen in this fight," said Alvarez. "But that's what I've prepared for - to knock him out."
Also fighting on the HBO Pay-Per-View
- 2012 U.S. Olympian and featherweight contender Joseph 'JoJo' Diaz (24-0, 13 KOs) of South El Monte will face late-sub Rafael Rivera (25-0-2, 16 KOs) of Tijuana, Mexico in a 12 round bout.
- In an intriguing 10 round bout of unbeaten junior featherweights, Randy Caballero (24-0, 14 KOs) of Indio will square off against Diego De La Hoya (19-0, 9 KOs), who is the younger cousin of Oscar De La Hoya. Diego De La Hoya resides in Mexicali, Mexico.
- Unbeaten Ryan Martin (19-0, 11 KOs) of Chattanooga, Tennessee will face Francisco Rojo (20-2, 13 KOs) of Mexico City in a 10 round lightweight bout.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, RingTV.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing