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Golden Boy Promotions: “The Best vs The Best”

Canelo AlvarezBy Maxwell Baer: When boxing fans talk about what they want to see, I believe it’s safe to say the most common phrase uttered is “I just want to see the best fight the best”. Around the world, boxing matches occur every day. However, all but the most dedicated of fans can only follow a few dozen fighters at most. Many fans only start following a fighter once he nears or even enters the “contender” phase of his career. As fans, we are eager to see if this promising young fighter will become one of the best and eventually get to prove that he is, in fact, “The Best”.

Prospects rise and fall. Some fallen prospects are able to rise again. Others are never able to find their way back. That’s the drama of boxing that we as fans love. For example, an excellent young prospect by the name of Antoine Douglas just took a tough loss. As a fan, I had high hopes for Douglas and, despite this recent loss, still do. He’s only 23 years old and, as fans, I think we all hope he can learn from this experience and come back stronger to eventually become one of the best and perhaps one day get a chance to prove that he is “THE BEST”.

A fighter getting a chance to prove he is “The Best” usually doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of work and perseverance. Trials and tribulations. Gym wars. Possessing the mental fortitude necessary to not only recover from a tough loss after getting robbed on the cards or come back from a devastating knock out but also persevere in the face adversity. All of this and more is what fighters can expect to experience in their quest for an opportunity to prove they are, in fact, “THE BEST”. Fighters who travel this road deserve the chance and we as fans of boxing, who go to the fights, watch the fights, and buy the PPV’s deserve to see it.

Most, if not all, boxing fans are very familiar with the frustration of being denied the chance to see the fights we actually want to watch. Many fans have turned away from boxing, as it seems one issue or another always prevents us from seeing “The Best” fights. This is why it’s important to recognize the promoters who are responsible for making the fights we truly want to see actually happen. In other words, these are the promoters who make fights pitting “The Best vs The Best”.

In my opinion, the promoter that has shown itself to be the most dedicated to the idea of “The Best vs The Best” is Golden Boy Promotions led by Oscar De La Hoya. Since the company’s founding in 2002, Golden Boy Promotions has lived by the mantra of “The Best vs The Best”. So strong has Golden Boys commitment been to this ideal that even former Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, who most would agree left Golden Boy under bad terms, recently stated in an article, written by Thomas Hauser, that “One thing Oscar always said that I agree with is the best should fight the best”.

Boxing promoters often start out with a strong set of ideals regarding how they will run their companies with an eye towards making the sport better. Unfortunately, the notoriously corrupt and seedy business of boxing has a way of destroying that vision and most promoters end up prioritizing money over sport. Golden Boy, on the other hand, isn’t your average promoter, as they have stood firm in their beliefs by continually making the best fights even when it has been to the detriment of the company’s financial interests.

At present, the most lucrative PPV money fight available for Golden Boy would be matching the Lineal, WBC, and Ring Magazine middleweight champion, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, up against WBA and IBF middleweight champion, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, in a three belt unification fight. However, Golden Boy is once again demonstrating the promoter’s commitment to making “The Best vs. The Best” fight by matching Canelo against other fighters so that fans will not be subjected to what most boxing pundits consider a gross, and potentially dangerous, mismatch.

I think all boxing fans have had more than their fill of mismatches that have simply not been competitive! By declining to make the extremely lucrative Canelo vs GGG fight Golden Boy is once again prioritizing competitive fights over money. We should all applaud Golden Boy for the promoter’s integrity in regards to this matter. How many other promoters would put what’s best for the sport over money?

While certain parties seem fixated on the pageantry and money that would accompany a Canelo Golovkin fight; the actual fight itself is simply not competitive and would be a departure from Golden Boy’s founding principle of “The Best vs The Best”. Canelo has shown himself to be a durable fighter. A tough fighter. But his skill level is simply too unrefined and not on the level that is needed to compete with a fighter of Golovkin’s pedigree. His failure to stop, knock down, or really even hurt the smaller Miguel Cotto indicates that Canelo likely does not have the power to compete at middleweight. Furthermore, Canelo’s inability to cut off the ring against Erislandy Lara and Cotto must make one question whether he possesses the requisite skillset to even compete at the 160 lbs. weight division.

Given Canelo’s skill set as a fighter it’s very difficult to imagine a game plan that would allow him to even compete, much less win, against a fighter like Golokvin. While Canelo is elite in several areas such as cutting weight, rehydrating, and winning close rounds on the judges scorecards; his deficiencies in other areas such as foot work and punching power would likely result in Canelo being overmatched and overwhelmed against a fighter like Golovkin who is extremely well schooled in boxing’s fundamentals. GGG also possesses oversized power for the middleweight division according to many of his past opponents and sparring partners where as Canelo has often struggled to hurt or knockdown `junior middleweight’s. After the disappointment of Mayweather vs Pacquiao, boxing doesn’t need a mismatch like this to turn even more fans off.

Most of Canelo’s career has been spent fighting much smaller fighters, such as Josesito Lopez, Matthew Hatton, and Jose Cotto. Canelo has also fought many past their prime former champions, such as Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintron, and Carlos Baldomir. Primarily fighting smaller men as well as former past their prime champions simply does not adequately prepare a fighter for a bout with a fighter of GGG’s pedigree. So despite the enormous amount of money that a Canelo vs Golovkin fight could generate, making such a mismatch would represent a betrayal of Golden Boy’s core values. I for one applaud Golden Boy and Oscar for standing on principle and not selling out the values that the company has been built upon.

In several interviews, Canelo has implied that he would be willing to accept a fight with GGG only if he was granted countless advantages. This shows a clear lack of belief on the part of Canelo. Fans have no interest in paying good, hard-earned money to see a fight in which one of the participants is mentally defeated before he even enters the ring. If Canelo is demanding every advantage to even fight his mandatory challenger – GGG, going so far as to ask for a catch-weight, which is not allowed under WBC rules in this particular situation, this clearly indicates that he lacks confidence and doesn’t believe he can win.

When “The Best” fight “The Best” both fighters enter the ring with a strong belief that they not only can but, in fact, will win! Unfortunately, it’s obvious that Canelo doesn’t have this belief so clearly a Canelo vs Golovkin fight is not an example of “The Best vs The Best” and, for the good of the sport, should not be made regardless of how much money the event may generate.

By refusing to make this fight, Golden Boy Promotions will now allow the fans to see Canelo participate in more competitive fights, such as his upcoming bout with welterweight Amir Khan. Perhaps in September, Canelo can fight the winner of the upcoming welterweight clash between Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley. A rematch with the smaller Cotto is a potentially competitive fight that fans could also enjoy. If Chris Algieri is able to upset heralded prospect Errol Spence Jr., also a welterweight bout, I could see Canelo vs Algieri as a fantastic fight that fans would love!

I could also see Canelo fighting the winner of the upcoming bout between Erislandy Lara and Vanes Martirosyan. Both are dangerous fights for Canelo, particularly a Lara rematch; but, with the fight-night weight advantage Canelo will likely enjoy as well as the good fortune we’ve seen him have on the judges’ cards on several occasions, I would favor Canelo to win a competitive yet close decision against either fighter. A fight with Liam Smith of the UK would be another great option for Canelo. Now, these are competitive fights! These are the kinds of fights the fans want to see! Regardless of how much money the fight may generate, no real boxing fan wants to see a mismatch along the lines of Canelo vs Golovkin.

With the Canelo bout no longer cluttering Golovkin’s schedule, GGG would now be free to pursue fights with the top middleweight contenders. Fighters who are actually willing to fight at the full weight class limit, such as Danny Jacobs and Chris Eubank Jr. We could also see GGG in a unification bout with Billy Joe Saunders of the UK. There’s a host of very talented top prospects fighting at middleweight, such as Arif Magomedov, Gold medalist Ryota Murata, Ukrainian Olympian Levgen Khytrov, American Rob Brant, Olympian Alfonso Blanco of Venezuela, as well as Sergiy Derevyanchenko of the Ukraine, all of whom pose a much greater threat to GGG than does Canelo.

The middleweight division could also see an infusion of talent in the very near future, with fighters like Demetrius Andrade, Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo, and Julian Williams all likely to soon be moving to middleweight. All of these potential opponents are likely to be far more competitive fights for GGG than a Canelo bout would be. Add in the potential for fights with Super middleweight’s James Degale and Gilberto Ramirez, should he get past Arthur Abraham in his upcoming championship bout, and it should be clear to any honest evaluator that Canelo vs Golovkin does not represent “The Best vs The Best”.

With this in mind, I fully expect Canelo will not only vacate the WBC middleweight title but will also be vacating the middleweight division, altogether, allowing a new lineage to be established in the very near future. In keeping with Golden Boy’s mantra of “Best vs Best”, I believe Canelo will continue to build a legacy at the “155 lbs. division”. With the Golovkin fight off the table and the public pressure to see the bout at the full 160 lbs. weight-limit gone, Canelo can now focus solely on creating a legacy at his newly established “155 lbs. division”.

This would be considered a win/win for both boxer and promoter. Canelo could become a trailblazer, as he would be carving out a new niche for fighters who lack the skill and/or belief to fight at a full weight class limit. Golden Boy, as Canelo’s promoter, would also benefit by being credited with developing a new way for fighters to compete on a world level. By creating a new weight class in order to lengthen Canelo’s career as a world level fighter, a trend we can expect many other fighters to follow, both Canelo and Golden Boy will undoubtedly increase their significance in boxing history.

As boxing fans, it’s easy to become cynical. We’ve become so conditioned to not getting the fights we want when we want them that sometimes we forget to acknowledge both fighters and promoters who are committed to “The Best vs The Best”. T he unselfish actions of Canelo and Golden Boy deserve recognition from all the fans for once again prioritizing the good of the sport over what is financially in the best interest of both fighter and promoter. So, as a fan and lover of the sport of boxing, let me be the first to say – Thank you Canelo, Thank you Oscar, and Thank you to all the good people at Golden Boy Promotions for facilitating “The Best vs The Best”.

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