By Sean Crose
Canelo Alvarez is not all that interested in facing Gennady Golovkin.
That, my friends, is simply all there is to it.
Don’t believe it? Check out any interview Canelo has done in the past week and ask yourself if this is a man ready, eager and willing to face the feared Kazak anytime soon. Sure, Canelo’s willing to fight Golovkin – under certain favorable conditions, of course – but he’s in no hurry. It’s enough to make one wonder if Canelo even wants to face his fellow middleweight titlist at all.
Here’s the thing, though – Canelo really isn’t that different from countless other popular fighters throughout the decades. Big name fighters avoided serious competition all the time “back in the day.” John L Sullivan never squared off against Peter Jackson. Jack Johnson never gave a rematch to Sam Langford after winning the heavyweight title. Ever hear of Charley Burley? There might be a good reason you haven’t. He’s known to have been about as avoided as a fighter could be.
The point here is that the times have clearly changed – and not in a way that’s favorable to Canelo. Not so long ago the man could have simply stated that the fight with GGG would come around, that fans would love it and that he would show the world he was the best. And that would be the end of that. A clip might be shown of him uttering those words on a local newscast, or a one margin article on page B of the local sports page might appear a day or so later.
Satisfied, fans would then sit back and patiently wait.
Obviously, fighters can no longer be so flippant – at least not if they want to retain a level of respect within the fight community. Outlets like Facebook and Twitter have given fans the world over a chance to chat about boxing pretty much twenty-four seven. Add in things like blogs, YouTube and podcasts and the presses are essentially always humming.
That means there’s always, ALWAYS someone out there to call a fighter out. What’s more, there’s countless way for that call out to be seen and/or heard. The days of waiting to talk to a local AM sports DJ in the midafternoon in order to discuss boxing for five minutes or so are over. It’s all boxing all the time in some corners of the internet, which means people are getting called to task in way’s they traditionally haven’t been.
78 Sports did a brilliant job tackling this matter on YouTube recently, effectively highlighting the differences between even recent eras (like the Ray Leonard era) and today’s. Canelo might want to check it out before he does any more PR damage to himself. For, let’s face it, the guy’s been hurting his brand lately. He might be popular now, but a few more fights with guys not named Golovkin might really start to wear down his reputation.
This will be especially true if Canelo’s next opponent – the talented Amir Khan – ends up looking good, or – gasp! – even beating Canelo when they fight in the spring. In a sense, Canelo, popular though he may be, is on borrowed time here. He can either face GGG or run the risk of looking like Adonis Stevenson. Perhaps team Canelo feels that if Floyd Mayweather could spend as long as he did not fighting Pacquiao, Canelo can spend a whole lot of time not fighting GGG.
That, however, would be a real roll of the dice. It’s arguable that Floyd was loved and hated for his lifestyle and off-putting personality. As a rule, Canelo is neither off putting nor flashy. What’s more, his Mexican fan base may not be all that patient with a man who comes across as pampered. Look at how quickly Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. stopped being a huge star.
In fairness, though, Canelo is certainly not the only fighter living like it’s 1985. Carl Frampton may well avoid facing Guillermo Rigondeaux yet again. He won’t be able to avoid the Cuban with impunity, though. Technology will see to that.
What’s puzzling here, frankly, is why young men like Canelo and Frampton don’t realize things are no longer like they were a generation ago. It’s easy to see why Oscar De La Hoya and Barry McGuigan, the men behind these fighters, might be a bit in the dark. Those guys both fought – and shined – in eras where the scrutiny wasn’t nearly as intense.
The same can’t be said for their fighters, however. Perhaps it’s the promoters and managers who need the talking to here. If fighters are making themselves look like ducks, or, even worse, afraid of certain opponents, that’s not a good thing. Fans no longer want to hear about build-up, “the business” or catch weights. They want to see big fights being made in a prompt fashion – as they are in the UFC.
People in the fight game need to start being aware of what’s going on around them. Things have not only changed; in some ways they’ve changed for the better.