Canelo’s Apparent Reluctance to Fight GGG Could Ruin His Candidacy as Heir-Apparent to Boxing’s Pound-for-Pound Throne…
By Tyrone Eddins Jr.
There’s an old adage that goes like this: “You can run, but you can’t hide.” This is especially true in the world of combat sports.
Earlier this month, Mexico’s Saul Canelo Alvarez defended his middleweight championship on HBO’s pay-per-view against Britain’s Amir Khan. The result? A short snippet of sweet-science culminating in the 6th round annihilation of Khan. His end was brought about by a devastating overhand right set-up by a left-hand feint. Picture perfect destruction. HBO’s Jim Lampley called Canelo’s knock-out punch “the punch heard around the world.” After the punch landed, sounding like a wrecking ball punching a hole in a condemned building, Khan completely lost control of his limbs and faculties, and crumpled backwards to the ground. Referee Kenny Bayless didn’t bother to attempt the standard ten-count and immediately waved an end to the fight.
Normally, a fight of this magnitude with this type of result would be hailed as a career-defining showcase of technical greatness. But not this fight. This fight went exactly how everyone thought it would. No surprise, but also no satisfaction. Why? Well, for one, ANYONE with an ounce of boxing knowledge knew that a knockout was the most likely outcome of this fight. Khan has long had a suspect chin, having been KO’d more than once in his career. Also, this fight was contested at Canelo’s preferred catch-weight of 155. (Canelo refuses to fight at the 160 lb middleweight limit.) Prior to this fight Khan had never fought above 147. The second reason this fight offered no satisfaction is because it wasn’t the fight that should’ve been fought in the first place. The fight we all should’ve been watching and enjoying is a middleweight championship mega match-up between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.
These two power-punchers have been on a collision course in recent years; circling each other like two dangerous, but cautious predators in the wild. But to the dismay of fight fans, both men have spent their past few bouts knocking out nobodies and much-smaller foes while talk of a super-fight between the two has continued to heat-up past the boiling point. Well guess what? Sports fans are tired of seeing these two dance around each other outside of the ring. It’s time for them to put fists to head and body inside the ring to settle once and for all who reigns supreme over boxing’s middleweight division.
GGG was ringside for Canelo-Khan and even came into the ring after the fight. In his post-fight comments Canelo was quoted as saying “Like we say in Mexico, we don’t fuck around, we don’t fight for rings and stuff like that. I don’t fear anyone.” But, when asked by HBO’s Max Kellerman about a fight with GGG later in 2016, Canelo (via his translator) responded by saying “As I said in the last fight, right now I’ll put on the gloves again.”
That answer wasn’t a “no”, but more importantly, it wasn’t a definite yes regarding a fight with GGG. One can even speculate that this was an intentionally ambiguous answer given more for the benefit of a raucous “pro-Canelo” crowd than for setting up the fight that the entire sports-world has been pining to see.
It has been said that Canelo doesn’t want to fight GGG and is even dodging him. Fuel was added to this fire by Canelo’s recent relinquishing of the WBC Middleweight Championship belt after the WBC mandated a fight between Canelo and GGG.
Now I don’t want to ever say that one man actually fears another man…not without knowing for sure, and definitely not at the elite prizefighter level. But what else are we, as sports fans, supposed to think? Why hasn’t a fight between Canelo and GGG happened yet? Why isn’t it at least scheduled by now? Maybe, just maybe, this is a case of “brand fear?” Maybe the “Canelo Brand” fears the devastating effects a loss to the “GGG Brand” could have as it would potentially derail their efforts to make Canelo the long-term face of boxing. Perhaps in the eyes of the Canelo Brand, the risks outweigh the potential rewards?
Canelo’s current record stands at 47-1-1. His lone defeat coming at the hands of Floyd “Money” Mayweather. A loss that is considered by many to be a minor blemish because, simply put, everyone loses to Mayweather. And while GGG is also undefeated, a loss to GGG at this point in Canelo’s career could shatter all of the hard-work Golden Boy Promotions has put into their golden ticket by selling Canelo as boxing’s next great champion comparable to past middleweight greats such as Bernard Hopkins, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Jake LaMotta, Carlos Monzon, and of course, Sugar Ray Robinson.
The situation these two fighters find themselves in isn’t unprecedented. It is very familiar territory. In fact, the Canelo-GGG quandary is very reminiscent of the Leonard-Hagler dance boxing fans saw drag-out during the 80s. And more recently, the Mayweather-Pacquiao circus that boxing fans were forced to endure. Yes, this is a rerun we have all seen before. The problem is that people are tired of the same old picture show and are threatening to turn the channel. Boxing NEEDS this fight to happen from both a sporting and financial point-of-view and it should be fought at the 160 middleweight limit, not at some manufactured catch-weight.
No this isn’t the only fight currently drawing attention, but it is the fight drawing the most attention right now. Sure, the heavyweight division has shown some promise in recent years; but with a clown like Tyson Fury as the reigning champ, that division is threatening to quickly regress into mediocrity. There are other fighters in other divisions who show greatness, but match-ups between those fighters are not quite the marquee matchups that a Canelo-GGG is right now.
The bottom-line is this: boxing fans, purists and casual fans alike, want to see this fight happen. Now, not later. This fight cannot be another Leonard-Hagler or Mayweather-Pacquiao. Those fights happened, but years after they should have; which disappointed the masses and diminished the possibilities of what the fights could have and should have been. Canelo-GGG needs to happen now, not only for the legacies of both fighters, but also for the good of this sport. A sport that is in desperate need of a relevant mega-fight.
Canelo Alvarez has a chance at immortality staring him right in his face. In GGG, he has his very own hard-hitting George Foreman blocking his path, his very own nightmarish Marvelous Marvin Hagler lurking in the shadows taunting him. This generation’s Roberto Duran is asking him to come and be the next participant in his “big drama show.” Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions would have us all believe that Canelo Alvarez is the Champ of all Champs.
Now all Canelo has to do is step up and prove it. We all want to see if he can conquer that beast called GGG. But unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Canelo is ready to be a dragon-slayer. One can only hope that I am wrong.