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De La Hoya: Canelo-GGG = biggest fight in middleweight history

By Dan Ambrose: Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya is expecting big things from the middleweight clash between his fighter Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin on September 16 next month.

De La Hoya believes the Canelo-GGG fight will go down as the best fight in the history of the middleweight division. That’s high praise from De La Hoya, because the competition is pretty heavy. Boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard fought middleweight champion Marvin Hagler in a huge fight on April 6, 1987. Hagler also fought Robert Duran in 1983 and Thomas Hearns in 1985 in big fights at middleweight. Those were great match-ups.

”We have to wait for the actual fight to see what unfolds and takes place, but in terms of magnitude, in terms of PR, in terms of attention that it’s receiving, in terms of people that will be watching, yeah, this has to be the biggest,” said De La Hoya in discussing the Golovkin vs. Canelo fight.

I don’t know if the attention the Canelo vs. GGG fight is anywhere near the amount of interest the Hagler vs. Leonard fight drew in 1987. That fight didn’t have the competition that the Canelo-GGG fight is receiving from the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor mega-fight, which takes place on August 26 on Showtime PPV.

Will boxing fans have the money to purchase Canelo-GGG after they spend their money on Mayweather-Mcgregor?

If you look around, most of the boxing media are focusing on the Mayweather-McGregor fight. It’s got a stranglehold on the attention of fans in the boxing and MMA world. The casual fans are riveted to the Mayweather-Conor fight instead of the Canelo and GGG clash. That might all change once the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight is done with on August 26, but I doubt it. For at least 1 to 2 weeks after the Mayweather vs. Conor fight, the boxing people will be still talking about that fight. Once they’ve talked it to the point where it’s no longer a discussion point, then the focus will heard towards the Canelo vs. Triple G fight during the week of the fight. With the late interest in the fight from the fans, I’m not sure that there will be enough attention on the fight to surpass the Leonard vs. Hagler fight from 1987. It’s all subjective though. Without any way of measuring the interest, you can’t really tell if the Canelo-GGG fight will be bigger than the Hagler-Leonard fight. Back in 1987 when Leonard and Hagler fought, boxing was still being shown on the free channels like CBS, NBC and ABC. For the fans that want to see Canelo and GGG, they’ll need to order it on HBO PPV. It’s a big difference. Far fewer eyeballs are going to see the Canelo vs. GGG fight than the Hagler vs. Leonard fight simply because many fans don’t have HBO, and they won’t have the extra money to pay to see the fight after having spent their money on the Mayweather-McGregor PPV fight on Showtime.

”Obviously we will have to wait until September 16th to see if it’s going to be the best, which I think it will be, in the history of the middleweight division,” said De La Hoya about Canelo vs. Triple G. ”But it has all the ingredients to unfold to be one of the best fights in the last 30 years. So you know, obviously the indications tell us that this will be a huge block buster,” said De La Hoya.

If Canelo chooses to box Golovkin, it might be a boring fight and not live up to expectations. Canelo is talking about wanting to take the fight to the inside to smother Golovkin’s power. If that happens, it could be a dull fight as well. Canelo was just involved in one of the worst fights in all of 2017 in his win over a badly weight drained Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on May 6. That was an awful fight, but not because of Canelo. It was a terrible fight due to Chavez Jr. being arguably over-the-hill, and weak from having taken off so much weight during training camp to get down to the 164.5 lb. catch-weight that Golden Boy and Canelo asked for. That was a very dumb decision on their part in requiring Chavez Jr. to drain down to 164.5 lbs. to take the fight. They were asking for a terrible fight by having Chavez Jr. do that.

Hopefully, Canelo and Golden Boy have learned from that so that they don’t keep picking inactive fighters that are badly overweight. They’ve done that 3 times in the last 3 years in matching Canelo against Alfredo Angulo, James Kirkland and Chavez Jr. All three of them had to take off massive amounts of weight in training camp, and all 3 were listless and weak by the time they got into the ring with Canelo. If Canelo can’t beat guys that are active, then Golden Boy needs to forget about expecting anything from him now that he’s moved up to 160. I’m glad there’s no catch-weight for the GGG fight on September 16, because it would be a real black eye if Golovkin had to drain down in weight to give Canelo a weight handicap like Chavez Jr. did.

It’s going to be mighty tough for Canelo and Gennady to put on a better performance than the Hagler vs. Sugar Ray fight. That was an exciting fight from start to finish. Leonard beat Hagler by a 12 round split decision victory. Leonard did it by fighting in brief spurts the way that Canelo fights. The judges were impressed enough by Leonard’s weak shoe-shine flurries that they gave him the ‘W’ for that fight. In re-watching the Leonard-Hagler fight for this article, I think Hagler was clearly robbed by the judges. He landed the harder shots and looked like the better fighter by a long shot. Leonard got really tired in the second half of the fight, and he was out-worked by the bigger, stronger Hagler. What Leonard had on his side was his popularity. He was a tremendous star at the time in the boxing world, and a 1076 U.S Olympic gold medalist.

Hagler would have likely needed a knockout to beat a guy with Leonard’s popularity in that fight. What’s interesting is Hagler retired afterwards. He wasn’t happy about the loss, and he walked away from the sport and never fought again. Hagler was still in his prime, and he would have easily won another world title if he’d continued to fight. Hagler was only 33.

Hopefully, we don’t see the same type of controversy with the Canelo vs. Golovkin fight. That would be sad if Canelo, the more popular fighter, is given a controversial decision win over the Hagler-like Golovkin. The thing that Golovkin has going for him is he tends to take judges out of play. Hagler should have knocked Leonard out to make sure he got the win, but he didn’t do it. If it had been a 15 round fight, it would have been hard for Leonard to win even with the dreadful scoring from 2 of the judges. Leonard was fading badly and he was taking punishment in the last 4 rounds. Golovkin is a better knockout puncher than Hagler was, and he knows full well that he’s got to go after Canelo to try and knock him out. Golovkin can’t count on the judges to give him a decision win. He needs a knockout. Whether Canelo can keep Golovkin from getting the knockout, it’s the big question.

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