Saul Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin: Chess Moves
By: Kirk Jackson
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 47-1-1 (33 KO’s) vacated his WBC Middleweight title ahead of the May 24th deadline imposed by the WBC (World Boxing Council); ultimately squashing any regulation or provision the WBC placed on him.
At first glance, many may speculate this is a move on the part of Alvarez to duck Gennady “GGG” Golovkin 35-0 (32 KO’s).
For the growing legion of Golovkin followers, this is another example of a fighter ducking Golovkin. This same audience will point to Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto and Peter Quillin as other examples.
The accuracy of that train of thought is another thing, as Golovkin’s handlers have not always sought the best opposition available during his prosperous professional run. Erislandy Lara, Andre Ward are among some of the fighters calling out Golovkin on a number of occasions.
The 34-year-old Golovkin has yet to participate in a signature fight; some may argue the politics of the sport serving as a roadblock and preventing Golovkin from these ever elusive match-ups.
And of course as mentioned, some think fighters are simply afraid of Golovkin’s punching power. Another thing to note, Golovkin’s skill level may make decent fighters appear like they are nobodies.
Whatever the case is for Golovkin not securing the signature fight, it appears a fight versus Alvarez may be his biggest opportunity. This is Golovkin’s biggest opportunity due to the media attention and pressure from the media and boxing fans alike.
Barring a comeback fight for either Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, Golovkin vs. Alvarez is the biggest fight in the sport, alongside Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward.
There’s the notion of Alvarez or his handlers (Golden Boy Promotions) afraid of facing Golovkin; but here’s another perspective behind Alvarez’s move to vacate his title.
Alvarez simply wants to have more leverage. He does not want the WBC or any boxing governing body, or promotional company for that matter, dictating what he can or cannot do.
As the “A-Side” to this potential match-up, he has every right to exploit his advantages. This would not be the first time a fighter has flexed his powers in that regard.
Oscar De La Hoya, Ray Leonard, Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao have all done the same. Alvarez is the face of boxing now.
Instead of seeing the vacation of the title as avoiding the challenge and shutting down the prospects of securing a fight between two of boxing’s biggest stars, this opens a streamline for the negotiation process and let’s be honest; In this current era of the “Alphabet Titles,” a championship belt is not necessarily needed for a block buster fight if both participants possess enough star power.
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao did not need a belt to signify its importance. Alvarez and Golovkin can be regarded as the same for which the match-up itself provides intrigue. The only thing the championship belt does is add an historic element to the scenario; maybe an extra cherry on top.
After this initial move to vacate the title by Alvarez, many questions loom. What happens next? Does the negotiation process continue and who will be the first side to budge?
We know there is a question of weight. Golovkin, as he should, wants to fight Alvarez but at the traditional limit of middleweight (160 lbs.). His argument is if they’re fighting for the middleweight title, they should fight at the middleweight limit.
Alvarez on the other hand, wants to fight at his own division of 155 lbs. Many pundits, former boxers, current boxers, fans, argue Alvarez is wrong for forcing a guy, another champion at that, to fight at 155 lbs. for a middleweight title.
Fair points made by Evander Holyfield.
But to counter those arguments in favor of Golovkin, there’s a question posed by one of Alvarez’s handlers, Bernard Hopkins. Shouldn’t Golovkin dare to be great?
Hopkins thinks Golovkin should move down to 155 lbs. to face Alvarez and test his greatness as he did against Oscar De La Hoya a decade ago.
Also as stated by Golovkin himself, he is willing to go to 154 lbs. to fight Mayweather and Pacquiao. Using that logic, it would appear Golovkin should be able to go to 155 lbs. for Alvarez right?
It appears Golovkin will have to move down in weight to secure a fight with Alvarez. If we compare revenue earned, drawing power, the financial semantics of everything, Alvarez holds the edge. It’s Alvarez’s 4.5 million ppv buys compared to Golovkin’s 100,000 ppv buys. That’s what team Alvarez is banking on.
In this chess match, Alvarez is the “A-Side” having the edge of popularity, pay-per-view buys, revenue earned, youth and higher quality opposition.
Golovkin however, has the edge with public opinion. But will Alvarez cave into the perception of public opinion? Probably not.
So what happens next?