THE BIGGEST WINNERS AND LOSERS OVER THE WEEKEND
Gennady Golovkin: You had to feel for Golovkin.
GGG is considered one of the most talented fighters of his era but had never had a truly big fight on a truly big stage to demonstrate it, the closest to that being his victory over Daniel Jacobs in March. And time was running out. He’s 35, probably entering the final stages at his peak as a boxer. Some even wonder whether he has started to decline.
He had to wonder with a degree of sadness whether his time would ever come. When asked if he had begun to give up hope, GGG told the RING and Los Angeles Times: “Yes, I think so.’’
And then it came.
The fight that Golovkin has coveted for more than a year – the fight all boxing fans have clamored for – was announced after the big fight Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas: Golovkin will face Canelo Alvarez for the RING middleweight championship and GGG’s sanctioning body titles on September 16.
No site has been selected but the leading candidates are T-Mobile, AT&T Stadium outside Dallas and Madison Square Garden in New York City.
From a business standpoint, GGG just won the lottery. The popular Kazakhstani will earn by far the biggest payday of his career, eight figures in U.S. dollars. That’s one reason he has worked so hard for so long, to provide security for himself and his family.
From a competitive standpoint, Golovkin just won a figurative lottery. This is his defining fight, his opportunity to prove in front of a huge audience – 2 million pay-per-view buys in the U.S.? – that he is truly the great fighter he has been purported to be.
Golovkin knew about a week ago, when he signed the deal to face Canelo, that he had landed his dream opponent but he was still glowing at the press conference immediately after Canelo shut out Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. GGG was all smiles.
The man was profoundly happy. And you have to be happy for him.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Canelo Alvarez: Canelo had the biggest night of his career.
First, he embarrassed his countryman and arch rival over 12 pathetically onesided rounds, winning almost every second of every round, delivering a painful beating and emerging with a shutout decision. All three judges scored it 120-108, as did I.
The fight for Mexico ended up being as big a mismatch as you’ll ever see at this level of boxing.
Canelo (49-1-1, 34 knockouts) was unable to knock out Chavez, who is big, strong and tough if little else. He probably outweighed Canelo by more than 10 rounds on fight night. Junior also took few risks in the fight, which might’ve given Canelo the opportunities he needed to finish the job.
The fight quickly evolved into a showcase for Canelo’s ability at the expense of entertainment, which didn’t sit well with the 20,510 fans in the stands at T-Mobile. They very likely expected Canelo to win but they hoped for at least some dramatic moments, which never came.
Their boos late in the fight instantly turned into cheers moments after the final bell, though.
That’s when it became clear that Canelo would face Golovkin in September, a matchup that serves Canelo on a number of fronts.
One, he’ll earn a crazy payday. $30 million? $40 million? More? Two, this also is his opportunity to prove how good he is. A victory over Golovkin would change the way Canelo is perceived, bringing him closer to the status of great Mexican fighters like Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez. And three, it puts to rest the nagging – and absurd – notion that Canelo is afraid of Golovkin.
Canelo reportedly partied into the wee hours the night of the fight. He had reason to celebrate.
Canelo vs. Golovkin: If this fight had been made even eight months ago, Golovkin probably would’ve been a prohibitive favorite.
Then GGG had some shaky moments against Kell Brook in September and struggled to beat Jacobs in March, which made Golovkin look vulnerable. And, again, he’s 35. That combined with Canelo’s progress as a boxer makes this a fascinating matchup.
My gut feeling is that GGG might be too skillful for Canelo. And the fact he is more accustomed to fighting at 160 pounds could work in his favor. If I had to make a prediction at this moment, I would choose Golovkin by a decision.
A close decision. I believe Canelo could win the fight. He looked strong and comfortable after weighing in at 164 pounds, nine pounds heavier than in any previous fight. He fought 36 minutes without sitting down between rounds. And he seems to have maintained his hand speed, which might be underappreciated.
He also seems to get better every time out, although he hasn’t faced a meaningful test since he outpointed Miguel Cotto in November 2015. As Golovkin pointed out at the press conference that followed the fight Saturday: “I’m not Chavez.”
Indeed, he isn’t. Neither is Canelo. We’ll see who is better on September 16.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Junior earned a guaranteed $3 million for his fight against Canelo, which is roughly 300 times the average annual household income in Chavez’s native Mexico.
That has to ease at least some of the pain of what occurred on Saturday. I’m not talking about physical pain, although there seemed to be plenty of that. Chavez’s body took a pounding and his face was badly bruised, including a left eye that was almost closed shut.
I’m talking about emotional pain, damaged pride. Chavez (50-3-1, 32 KOs) was humiliated with the eyes of countrymen upon him, as TV ratings in Mexico were expected to be through the roof.
Those who supported Chavez and/or don’t like Canelo for whatever reason were hoping that his size advantage would be an equalizer against a more-talented opponent. It wasn’t. Chavez did nothing else but serve as a 6-foot-1 heavy bag for his arch rival, which wasn’t what he had in mind when he agreed to the fight.
To his credit, Junior accomplished more in his career – including winning a middleweight title – than many believed he would. He became more than merely the son of a famous fighter. And he seemed to be prepared on Saturday, at least physically. He made weight.
However, it will be hard for Junior to live down the beating he took on Saturday, which put all of his many limitations on display for everyone to see. It was cringe worthy.
At least he finished the fight on his feet. That’s something. Not much, but something.
Marcos Reyes (35-5, 26 KOs) would’ve been better off if he had been knocked out by middleweight contender David Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs) on the Canelo-Chavez card, which is what most of us expected. Reyes, a natural super middleweight, managed to stay on his feet but took a brutal beating from Lemieux. The French-Canadian, who won a wide decision, is a viable opponent for Canelo if he beats Golovkin. Lemieux would love another crack at GGG but it’s difficult to get excited about that prospect after the beating Golovkin gave him in 2015. … Lucas Matthysse (38-4, 35 KOs) gave an impressive performance in his first fight in 19 months, stopping capable Emanuel Taylor (20-5, 14 KOs) in five rounds on the Canelo-Chavez card. Matthysse , fighting as a welterweight for the first time, put Taylor down twice. Taylor had never been knocked out. Matthysse still has that power. He would like to fight Manny Pacquiao. Interesting fight. … Featherweight contender Jo Jo Diaz (24-0, 13 KO) fairly easily passed a significant test when he nearly shut out previously unbeaten Manuel Avila (22-1, 8 KOs) at T-Mobile, winning 100-90, 99-91 and 99-91. Diaz boxed beautifully. He is hoping the victory will make him the mandatory challenger to either WBO titleholder Oscar Valdez or WBC titleholder Gary Russell Jr., the latter of which seems unlikely given promotional alliances. I like the Diaz-Valdez fight, which could come down to Diaz’s ability to take Valdez’s power shots. … It’s always sad to see a once-good fighter fall apart in the ring, which happened to 35-year-old Yuriorkis Gamboa on May 5 at the MGM Grand. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist was put down twice by Robinson Castellanos (24-12, 14 KOs) and quit on his stool after the seventh round of a scheduled 10-round lightweight bout. Gamboa (26-2, 17 KOs) had nothing. If he is finished, he will have had a decent pro career that peaked from 2009 to 2011. He beat in succession Jonathan Victor Barros, Orlando Salido, Jorge Solis and Daniel Ponce de Leon and held two 126-pound titles. Not bad. It seems he could’ve accomplished so much more, though.
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