By Ivan G. Goldman
Golden Boy Promotions began dragging Canelo Alvarez and Austin Trout across Texas today for a series of media events designed to publicize their April 20 title light middleweight unification in San Antonio, Texas.
Photo: Hogan Photos
We all know the drill. The fighters pose nose-to-nose, express confidence in their victory, sit on podiums while their trainers and others sing their praises, and maybe even do a little pushing and snarling.
But there is in fact something truly different about this particular fight, which would be an excellent match-up in any venue. Tickets will be priced all the way down to $10 at the Alamodome, a stadium that holds 72,000 for football, and even more for boxing. I couldn’t find anybody who can recall seeing fight tickets at such fire sale prices. It’s a great piece of marketing. You want to create buzz? Create a crowd.
The fight will be carried by Showtime, which has to be tickled. Networks hate covering cards in little sparsely filled ballrooms. TV crews do their best to camouflage empty seats and small rooms by using inventive lighting and constricted camera angles, but it doesn’t really fool viewers at home, who get the feeling they’re watching something that may not be worth their attention. Crummy attendance spreads a dull fog around proceedings that afflicts the on-camera fight-callers and sometimes even the fights themselves.
I’ve been at fights where the crews politely requested fans to gather on one side of the ring so they could aim cameras into the crowd without revealing the empty attendance truth.
There is in fact no malarkey in this particular match-up. It’s the kind of fight that knowledgeable fans thirst for — flush with talent and unpredictability. Golden Boy has been looking for a successor to Oscar De La Hoya ever since he faded from the scene several years ago. They thought they had it in Victor Ortiz, a great kid with a truly inspiring personal story. But Victor flamed out through bad luck and bad choices. So make way for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, a handsome, charismatic redhaired Mexican who punches like a light heavyweight. He’s a natural hitter. His opponents think they’re taking his shots okay and suddenly the nerve connections to the brain malfunction and they’re looking up at him from down on the canvas.
But Austin Trout is his toughest challenge yet. “No Doubt” Trout does everything well. Canelo doesn’t, but at the tender age of 22 he gets better every time out and does some things — such as throwing heat — superbly.
Trout, 26-0 (14 KOs), from Las Cruces, New Mexico, turned pro in the 154-pound division in 2005, the same years As Canelo. After winning the vacant WBA title in 2011 against Canelo’s brother Rigoberto Alvarez, he made four successful title defenses, the last one against the mighty Miguel Cotto. Trout beat Cotto in his own house — Madison Square Garden, by lopsided scores. The victory was a proclamation announcing that this guy is something special.
Canelo, 41-0-1 (30 KOs), from Jalisco, Mexico, turned pro at age 15. He won the vacant WBC title by beating Matthew Hatton, an English welterweight who’d never competed at 154 and went straight back to his own division after picking up his paycheck. It was one of the more transparently ridiculous title acquisitions of the last several years, orchestrated by Golden Boy and Generalissimo Jose Sulaiman of the Mexico City-based WBC.
Canelo has some impressive names on his catalog of opponents — Shane Mosley, Livermore Ndoou, Kermit Cintron, Alfonso Gomez, and Carlos Baldomir — but they were all on a downward slide. This time he’s up against an excellent fighter in his prime, a tricky southpaw who’s never lost.
When you’ve got the goods, who needs the hype?
Ivan G. Goldman’s boxing novel The Barfighter was nominated as a 2009 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Information HERE