By Corey Erdman
Coverage of boxing from the sport’s dedicated media and the mainstream media that parachutes in for larger fights both tend to ride raves of hysteria.
When Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin met this time last year, the sport seemed to be in a bit of a transitionary period. It was one month removed from the sport’s second biggest fight ever—however absurd that may still be—between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, and the former’s immediate retirement.
During the latter part of Mayweather’s career, no matter what else happened during the year, boxing was deemed to be “alive” once every six months when Floyd stepped between the ropes. With him gone, the two fighters tasked with assuming the responsibility of producing the crossover mega fights and generating all of the media exposure in North America moved onto the shoulders of the next two most popular fighters—Canelo and Golovkin.
The climate surrounding the first Canelo-GGG bout was strange. As much excitement as there was for the generationally great matchup coming up, there was a common theme of impending doom for the sport amongst many outlets—a “what do we have left after this?” kind of feeling.
As it turned out, there was no reason to worry. The fight was great, though controversial, it sold well on pay-per-view, and over the course of the next year, various other sources of momentum contributed to the biggest boom in boxing broadcasts in the last fifty years.
Both Golden Boy and Top Rank have substantial output deals with ESPN, Showtime re-upped its deal with Premier Boxing Champions, which also inked a new deal with FOX, and DAZN emerged as a serious challenger to the established giants in the boxing broadcast industry through its polished streaming platform.
The rematch, then, has a decidedly different feeling surrounding it. It’s unquestionably the biggest fight on the boxing calendar in 2018, but there isn’t the same sense of need a dependency attached to it. There are plenty of tremendous and interesting things happening in boxing right now, and possibly even storylines more intriguing, such as the heavyweight triangle involving Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. There’s also just much more boxing on television or on your laptop than there was 365 days ago—there are good fights each and every week airing somewhere, and you don’t have to risk the health of your computer and battle through dodgy popup ads to watch them anymore either.
There is also, perhaps, a sour taste in the public’s mouth heading into the rematch. Many observers felt Golovkin deserved the win, rather than the split draw that was handed out. Then, the rematch was delayed after Alvarez tested positive for clenbuterol, necessitating a six-month suspension. Now, in the eyes of some, the bout had a mixture of stains ranging from corruption to incompetence to cheating, making the rematch a little less desirable.
Both Golden Boy and K2 Promotions have done their very best to use what they have—a scoring controversy and a, shall we call it, tainted meat controversy—to feed the news cycle with inflammatory comments, all in the name of keeping the fight fresh in the public’s mind.
And you know what? It will most likely work. Not necessarily because any one thing any of the parties have said will talk anyone into the arena or into buying the pay-per-view, but because it’s reminded them just often enough that the two best boxers in the world right now are fighting, and that’s always been something people will want to watch.
"Both GGG and Canelo, they have tremendous fan bases. This event, just like last September, when they get together, it really transcends boxing and a World Championship fight. It really becomes an international sporting event, almost like a World Cup soccer match where you have flags and you have the fans chanting, just a similar emotion and energy in the arena, and we expect it to be at an even higher level now, with all the controversy that happened in the scoring in the first fight, and, you know, the delay, the cancellation of the Cinco de Mayo fight, I think it's going to hit an even higher pitch with the rematch September 15," said Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions on a recent media conference call.
"Whatever controversy there is between the two sides, you have to give them credit that they are getting into the ring. A lot of people talk about fighting each other. This is the second time that GGG and Canelo fought each other in 12 months and that's what makes it the biggest fight in the sport of boxing this year, because their fan bases, the international level, we have GGG fans coming in from all over the world for this fight. And I think we're going to break the level that was set last year for ticket sales, and the Pay-Per-View is also on track to be significantly higher than last year. So I think we'll see an even bigger event this time in September.”
Controversy aside, the first bout was an outstanding display of boxing skill, and a fascinating meshing of styles at the highest possible level of the sport. Even if the fight wasn’t a bloodbath, in terms of overall skill level and drama inside the ring, it ranked among the very best in recent memory on both counts.
Boxing fans are indeed spoiled in 2018 with the amount of content being pumped out each and every day. But one should never be too spoiled to get excited about the sport’s best, pound-for-pound, fighting one another.