By Tris Dixon
IN two weeks time we will have the answers.
There may be a new star on top of the pay-per-view throne. There may be a Fight of the Year contender in the bank. Thirty-two years on, we may have the middleweight follow-on to Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hears that we have long since coveted.
Hopefully, without controversy, without question marks, the middleweight division will have a clear ruler, but whether you are picking Gennady Golovkin or Saul Alvarez the split is evening itself out, the gap between those who were certain Golovkin would win to those who feel Canelo can pull it off is narrowing.
Superfights are always better value when you can make a stringent case for either competitor to win, more so than when you tune in to see a contest in which the underdog might, just might, upset the odds.
Some are going back to Ali-Frazier, Leonard-Hearns and, dare one repeat it at middleweight, Hagler-Hearns. Some even feel it could be a tear up like that three-round orgy of violence.
For fight fans, it has been too long since there has been a huge fight without the names Mayweather or Pacquiao being involved. Those two notched numerous one-million-plus pay-per-views during their peak years, before uniting to destroy the record.
Of course, Alvarez-Golovkin will not trouble those 4.6million US buys, but a ballsy Oscar De La Hoya, promoting the September 16 fight, estimated back in May that it could reach close to three million homes. That would be incredible for the sport, particularly if the fight delivers, which so many are convinced it will.
It needs to. This is a superfight of this generation. It is the first since the closing of the ‘Mayweather-Pacquiao era’, a decade in which between them the two icons took part in around 15 of the 30 most-bought pay-per-views in combat sports history.
It is hard to pinpoint when the last superfight was that featured neither Mayweather nor Pacquiao. Some would argue Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko because of crowd size (90,000 at Wembley Stadium), and in Britain they’d make a case for Carl Froch-George Groves II (80,000 at Wembley). But neither had that seismic shift where the entire boxing world stopped, took in a long, deep breath, and collectively braced itself. And if you think the wider public licked their lips in anticipation at either Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev bouts you would be wrong, certainly if you go by pay-per-view numbers alone.
Would you pick out a De La Hoya fight, when ironically he ventured up to middleweight against Bernard Hopkins (2004) or the second fight with Shane Mosely (2003)? You are going back a long time now.
De La Hoya-Hopkins did around a million buys. Canelo-Chavez did a similar number. Canelo-Mayweather notched 2.2million, so Canelo figures to be on high on the list for a third time. (His fight with Cotto garnered 900,000)
Not only is the fight appealing stylistically, but the timing is perfect. A couple of years ago, even a year ago, Golovkin would have started a heavy favourite. He starts odds on now, of course, and rightly so. But by the time all of the money comes in on the Mexican during fight week there will not be much between them. That is because Canelo has amassed quite the highlight reel, knocking Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr from pillar to post, exciting fans against Miguel Cotto and ending fights with Amir Khan, Liam Smith and James Kirkland emphatically.
But none of the above are ‘Triple G’, who made his HBO debut five years ago this week defeating poor Grzegorz Proksa. Golovkin looked like a beast even then. It was hard to see anyone who, with more experience and seasoning in the bank, could trouble him. No one has. Until he faced Danny Jacobs earlier in the year no one had even come close. Subsequently, he has won a lot of fights without venturing from first or second gear. We are licking at lips to see what happens when he has to go full tilt.
Even so, it is one thing having talent and power; it is another thing becoming a star. And if Nike wants to work with you, that has to mean something. He has managed to do it, too, without once fighting in Las Vegas in 37 outings. His first, against Canelo, sold out in early July so it is seemingly overdue.
For one who has always promised a ‘Big Drama Show’ it is now that he actually must deliver in one.
If you look at the dictionary definition of ‘drama’ and see that it should be ‘exciting, emotional, or [an] unexpected event or circumstance’ then our appetites are whet a little further still. We want that from our fights and we especially want it from our marquee occasions for they are the ones that inspire other fighters, youngsters and the generations to come.
This is history in the making. This is what we want and what we crave. The only sad part is we have another two weeks to wait.