By Sean Crose
So Canelo Alvarez has reportedly said he won’t fight Gennady Golovkin unless Golovkin allows for a catchweight of 155 pounds. One could hardly imagine Mike Tyson saying such a thing. Or Marvin Hagler. Or Sugar Ray Robinson, for that matter. This is a new era, however, and Canelo doesn’t need Golovkin. Provided he bests Miguel Cotto in November – and that’s no guarantee – Canelo can continue on with his enormously successful career while avoiding GGG and still remain a star.
Why? Because boxing’s new breed of fan is perfectly fine with boxers not accepting real challenges. All a popular fighter has to do today to avoid fights he may well lose is accept the fact that he won’t make QUITE as much money as he would have accepting a truly dangerous challenge. Adonis Stevenson, for instance, will never be highly regarded so long as he keeps fighting second and third tier opponents. He’ll also not make the money he would have had he faced more top guys. As long as he’s okay with that, however, Stevenson can retire having had a very successful career.
The same applies to Canelo Alvarez and any other fighter who chooses to go down such a route. With all this in mind, though, it’s good to remember that fighters say things all the time that they afterward disavow or disprove a short time later. Canelo, could, arguably, have been speaking out his figurative cap. Then again, he could have been deadly serious. And if he was serious, well, that’s a disappointment.
For Canelo has always been a guy who is regarded highly for his fearlessness. Austin Trout. Erislandy Lara. These are difficult opponents for a rising star to face. Believe it. Lara, for instance may not be the hardest puncher but he’s very difficult to beat. Yet Canelo faced him anyway. Truth be told, this author felt that Canelo was unfairly given the decision win over Lara when they met. Still, this same author also felt the fight was exceedingly close and that Canelo deserved credit for being willing to accept a challenge few at his level would.
If this week is any indication however, it looks like those days may be over as far as Canelo is concerned. While his popularity may end up dropping over time, Canelo will still earn a boatload of money facing guys not named Golovkin. The new breed of fan – the kind that approves of, or even applauds – the employment of business savvy over all else, will help keep Canelo very comfortable indeed.
Don’t believe it? You should have seen the comment section of a popular boxing site that reported this Canelo story. A good quarter to a third of those comments were cool with Canelo’s demands on Golovkin. As far as those who wrote those comments were concerned, it all made perfect sense. Canelo, they argued, would be the “A-side” in negotiations. Besides, they pointed out, didn’t GGG do the same thing to Ward?
Want to know who some of those people were who paid for Floyd-Berto? There they are.
Again, it all comes down to expectations. Canelo may be in line to be the next Mayweather as far as being a top draw goes, but he’ll never get close to Floyd’s level of success if he plays the avoidance game. Traditional fans have simply tired of the Mayweather method of picking opponents. That’s why, aside from the fight with Pacquiao, Floyd’s PPV numbers were reportedly in decline heading into 2015. It seems odd to imagine a risk averse Canelo bringing in a million PPV buys any time soon. Those dollars might likely be going over to the likes of Ronda Rousey and her counterparts over at the UFC.
If Canelo is okay with that, though, then there’s nothing that can be done. What’s more, there’s a little matter of a fight in November to keep in mind. Indeed, one might ask why Canelo is even talking about GGG when he may well lose to Cotto in a matter of weeks when they meet in Las Vegas for the lineal middleweight championship of the world. Believe it – Cotto can beat Canelo. Whether he will or not is another matter, but anyone who feels the fight is already a foregone conclusion needs to purchase some contacts in order to start seeing things more clearly.
And going back to the “old Canelo” for a moment, the one who seemed willing to challenge anyone, I’m not sure that guy is really gone yet. I know what he’s quoted as saying, but such a statement – frankly – goes directly against the man’s reputation for true competitiveness. That’s why it’s a bit ridiculous to start jumping up and down and calling Alvarez a “ducker” due to a single comment he made this week. Sometimes you just have to wait and see. And this is clearly one of those times.
That being said, it’s never pleasant for traditional fans to learn of such statements, especially now that word is out that GGGs PPV bout with David Lemieux last weekend was far from a stellar success. It all seems too calculated, too unsportsmanlike, too new breed. Indeed, new breeds seem to view boxing as a business centered reality show. It appears to be all about the ins and outs to them, the wheeling and dealing. The fights themselves, like a gala ball on one of those Real Housewives shows, may just be the end results of a whole lot of drama to these fans, as well as the starting points for more drama to come. Ridiculous? You bet. But perhaps prominent.
Why, one may ask, would such people decide to latch on to boxing? The answer, sadly, is simple. No other sport in the world allows for such nonsense to hold sway. A new breed fan can never use his or her buying power, for example, to keep an NFL team from facing the Patriots. Only boxing allows these people to have such pull. And so there you have it.
Here’s hoping Canelo has been misunderstood or was merely “talking smack.” The whole risk averse things just doesn’t seem to be his style.