A middleweight showdown between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin has arguably been the biggest fight to make in the entire sport for over a year now, yet it hasn’t happened. Even worse, there’s little hope on the horizon that it ever will. But, if the fight does happen, here’s why Canelo beats Golovkin...
Oscar De La Hoya.
No, no, it’s not the world famous blueprints De La Hoya is known for. Simply put, The Golden Boy benefits from The Golden Rule: Whoever has the gold makes the rules! Except in his prized fighter Oscar De La Hoya has a commodity much more valuable than gold. He has the most valuable commodity known to man - Time.
There’s a lot of ways you can spend time, and I’m sure De La Hoya knows a few more ways than most, but whatever you think of the promoter’s...hobbies...De La Hoya is obviously smart enough to play a winning hand.
Boxing has always been a sport of high-speed chess, stratgic positioning. But this is true both in and outside of the ring. In Canelo the Golden Boy promoter has a 26-year-old star who is essentially the face of boxing right now. He has the fanbase, exposure, and stature for a very bright future — that time thing.
In the opposite corner we Gennady Golovkin, a soon-to-be 35-year-old fighter that was brought to the U.S. after age 30 to make a run at the big time. Golovkin’s career track was carefully crafted to maximize the effects of building his brand on a limited resource — time. Golovkin was aligned with trainer Abel Sanchez for the purpose of installing his ‘Mexican Style’ of fighting which would quickly endear him to American audiences. He got the backing of a major premium cable network in HBO which would regularly feature him while exposing him to wide audience. And finally, Golovkin fought on a fast-paced schedule in order to maximize product awareness.
Armed with all those things Golovkin was able to make a rather impressive run in just a few short years. But boxing being the young man’s sport that it is, when does the window of opportunity close? How many fighters can you name that were able to fight at a truly elite level after 35? A handful? And how many of those employed Golovkin’s ultra aggressive, come forward style — a style not usually associated with longevity? Golovkin, while still operating at a high level, has appeared to be mortal in his last two outings...and don’t you think Oscar De La Hoya hasn’t been paying close attention all along.
“When strong, avoid them. If of high morale, depress them. Seem humble to fill them with conceit. If at ease, exhaust them. If united, separate them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.” - Sun Tzu
This should methodology should resonate with just about anyone who has followed almost two years of negotations between Canelo and Golovkin. That said, the endgame doesn’t favor Golovkin any way you slice it. All signs point to De La Hoya biding his time until we hit a clear inflection point - the point where his thoroughbred peaks as Golovkin’s fades - or the fight doesn’t happen at all. Either way, Canelo has great prospects looking ahead. That’s the proverbial win-win situation.
If the fight doesn’t happen, Golovkin’s prospects for a true marquee fight are largely limited, even if he were to move up to the super middleweight division. And considering how difficult it’s been Golovkin to get significant names to come to the table, it’s frankly a little hard to be optimistic about any mainstream-worthy fights available to GGG.
Meanwhile, Canelo Alvarez is still able headline major events like his upcoming Cinco de Mayo clash with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. No, it may not be a legacy-sealer, but it’ll sure be a money-maker and sell a lot more than Golovkin-Jacobs regardless of the actually implications of the fight. Canelo and De La Hoya will also likely have their pick of the litter following a Chavez match, being the coveted “A-side” and all, so it’s evident that Canelo’s riding in pole position. Golovkin? Ehh, not so much.
In two pay-per-view outings Golovkin hasn’t proven to be a legitimate draw, selling 153,000 and 170,000 PPVs respectively. De La Hoya will use those numbers as weapons to reassert Canelo’s status above Golovkin and only allow the fight to happen under the most favorable of terms possible.
Now as fans we’re sort of hardwired to get emotional about overtly cynical tactics like the ones De La Hoya and Canelo has employed — in the name of sportsmanship, no doubt. It’s apart of fandom. We might even ridicule Canelo for dodging or stalling a showdown with Golovkin. But don’t think your temporary scorn will have any lasting affect. Canelo can finish his career without ever having fought Golovkin and could still live in the pantheon of great fighters. I’m a firm believer that history always remembers the broad strokes, seldom the details.
That rationale works for Canelo just as it worked for past greats like Sugar Ray Leonard, just as it works for Floyd Mayweather. Ask yourself, how harshly do you judge Sugar Ray Leonard for never fighting Aaron Pryor? Will Mayweather be remembered for not fighting Kostya Tszyu or Paul Williams? No, not really. And that’s precisely the same reason why a Pacquiao-Crawford fight is unlikely to ever happen.
If Pacquiao were to beat Crawford would you think to yourself “man, now Pacquiao has proven himself a great fighter”? Of course not! We already know he is, which is why it’s high risk-low reward. And while Pacquiao, Mayweather, and Leonard have all proven their greatness unlike Canelo to this point, Canelo still has time to get there. There will be other big fights to come.
Ultimately Canelo may never face Golovkin in the meaningful fight us fans had hoped for, and although that’s bitterly disappointing for us, I’m sure at least one old master admires the cunning.