De La Hoya “Marinates” As Fan Base Grows Restless
By: Sean Crose
Legendary boxer turned promoter Oscar De La Hoya knows fans want to see Gennady Golovkin get it on with his star fighter, Canelo Alvarez. He also must be aware that fans are getting sick of waiting for the two fighters to meet in the ring. Truth be told, however, De La Hoya feels that fans can wait a bit longer…at LEAST a bit longer. For by indefinitely dangling a carrot before boxing’s diminished yet rabid fan base, De La Hoya feels he can tease the interested public so much that the not so interested public will grow curious as to what all the fuss is about. And then, De La Hoya feels, the Canelo-GGG match can reach its full economic potential.
Like it or not, De La Hoya’s strategy has proven to be a winning one. Last year’s Mayweather-Pacquiao fight could arguably have happened five full years earlier. Because the public was denied satisfaction for so long, however, the bout – when it happened – broke the bank, reportedly bringing the city of Las Vegas half a billion – that’s billion – dollars in a single weekend. Without doubt, boxing’s power players hit the mother lode with Floyd-Manny, regardless of whether fans were happy with the actual fight or not. That, however, leads to another issue, one that De La Hoya and Canelo are going to have to deal with if they wish to continue playing this game.
For the truth is that promoters are always at the risk of hardcore fans losing interest. The truth is that boxing’s power players may have already turned off most of the general public to the sport. Indeed, only when the rumbling reaches a fever pitch from among the loyal fan base do “Casuals,” which are essentially non-boxing fans, show interest in the sweet science. Promoters need that rumbling to entice the casuals, though. If boxing’s marginalized base of support decides it would rather watch UFC – which prides itself on catering to the fans before all else – than boxing, there will be no one around to hear the tree fall.
Hence, the risk that’s inherent in De La Hoya’s strategy. A prime example of a good idea (not involving De La Hoya or his company, Golden Boy Promotions) backfiring is the long hoped for bout between Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson. That had the makings of being a big fight, if not a blockbuster one. After being denied over and over again, however, boxing’s fan base eventually yawned at the whole business. When Stevenson publicly expressed interest in facing Kovalev this week, it barely registered with sport’s followers. Enough was apparently enough – and the moment had passed.
De La Hoya is indeed risking having the moment for Canelo-Golovkin pass because of the fact that Canelo is not known to be one of the top fighters in the sport. While he’s certainly the most popular pug in the wake of Mayweather and Pacquiao announcing their respective retirements, few if any have claimed that Canelo is near either of those men’s skill levels.
In other words, Canelo stands a greater chance of losing against less than stellar competition than most top level fighters do. That might be hard for some to swallow but it is what it is. Mayweather, for instance, could fight all the Robert Guerrero’s and Victor Ortiz’ he wanted to. There was never much doubt he’d always emerge victorious. The same, frankly, can’t be said of Canelo, who’s already lost to Mayweather and who some feel was given a gift decision over a slick Erislandy Lara.
De La Hoya, then, finds himself in a bit of a Catch 22 right now. If he continues to let things “marinate,” he runs the risk of cherry picking easy outs for his man – something even the dimmest of hardcore fans will catch on to. If he throws his man directly against GGG sooner rather than later, however, most feel Canelo will crumble in the face of the talented Kazakh’s assault. It’s not an enviably position, but it’s one the Golden Boy is going to have to maneuver his way out of. Such things happen when your top fighter isn’t as good as a Manny Pacquiao or a Floyd Mayweather.
Or an in his prime Oscar De La Hoya, for that matter.