By Marc Livitz: Big names do not always translate into big fights, at least not in terms of matching the hype or anticipation coupled with them. A few years ago, a high profile contest which finally transpired after several failed attempts turned out to be nothing short of dreadful and the sport of boxing did not move any closer to its proper place. Additionally, a bout which took place just a few days ago clearly had much of public’s attention, yet for a sport touted as the ‘sweet science’, the end result seemed a bit contrived. The finality of this simply took a few days to surface and perhaps to the discerning eye, September 16th holds the key to making 2017 an even better year for boxing.
In short, the showdown between Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for middleweight supremacy was put together behind closed doors. There seemed to be nowhere else for either man to go. In the Spring of 2016, Golovkin (37-0, 33 KO’s) mauled Dominic Wade in two short rounds and Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KO’s) flattened Amir Khan one month later. Saturday, September 17 seemed to be an ideal date for the two to meet. Canelo did fight on that date, yet it was Liam Smith whom he knocked out in nine rounds in Arlington, Texas.
One week earlier, “GGG” stopped Kell Brook in five rounds across the pond in London. Would Cinco de Mayo weekend of 2017 finally give us the match for which we were so richly clamoring? Negative, but we did see Golovkin get tested to his outer limits with Danny Jacobs at Madison Square Garden in New York this past March. Two months later, Canelo fired away at Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. for twelve, uneventful rounds in Las Vegas.
So no, we didn’t get the fight we needed to see, however the announcement for it was at least an appetizer of sorts. After a bit of wrangling over which city and site would host the titanic matchup of the middleweight kings, Las Vegas was chosen (to the shock of very few). The date: September 16, 2017. Of course, this is Mexican Independence Day and the site? The year old T-Mobile Arena on the Vegas Strip.
Since bursting upon the American scene in 2012, Golovkin quickly became a fan favorite and found himself to be in an interesting position indeed. A few nights ago, the untrained ear heard Conor McGregor indicate that he’d made Floyd Mayweather ’fight like a Mexican’. Many who heard that knew this to be a compliment and not an ethnic slight of any kind.
The face first, all action style of fighting which Golovkin utilizes to go alongside his staggering knockout ratio has endeared him to many Mexican boxing fans. The undefeated champion from Karaganda, Kazakhstan and his team consisting of promoter Tom Loeffler and trainer Abel Sanchez all participated in an international conference call with the media on Wednesday afternoon. A break was taken as camp winds down in Big Bear Lake, California.
Selected Highlights Listed Below
Opening Statements, Tom Loeffler: “We couldn’t be more excited. It’s not only for middleweight supremacy, but boxing supremacy. The winner is really going to be considered the best fighter in boxing. The interest in this fight is really reaching a fever pitch. It’s been a tremendous training camp.”
Opening Statements, Abel Sanchez: “We’re having a great camp as always. We’ve been in camp since July 1st. We’re looking forward to a good but difficult fight.”
WBC/WBA/IBF/IBO Middleweight World Champion Gennady Golovkin: “I feel great and I’m very excited for this fight. It’s just two weeks away now. My weight is good, I feel good and I’m ready. I haven’t lost anything at 35. I feel 25. Maybe inside right now, I’m younger than Canelo.”
Sanchez on differences seen in Golovkin’s training: “There’s been a sparkle in his eye. He’s been a little frustrated over the last few years for not having that marquee name, but we’re glad that this is finally here. The look in his eyes is just a bit different.”
Opinions on Canelo against top talent: “Canelo fighting Mayweather was one thing, but if Golovkin does what I think he’s going to do on the 16th, then it’s going to be a statement. He’s going to do what Mayweather couldn’t do.”
Gennady Golovkin’s Motivation: “This is huge. I want to win this fight so bad. This win will be historical for me and for the middleweight division. Canelo is a special guy but I am the champion.”
Tom Loeffler’s statements on Golovkin’s career :”This is the closest of odds on any fight that Gennady’s been involved in. 50% thinks Gennady will win and 50% thinks Canelo is going to win, so it’s big. This is a legacy fight for him. He holds the highest knockout percentage in middleweight history. We’ve had a horrible time getting people in the ring with him."
"You can’t look at Gennady for the lack of stars on his record. If he beats Daniel Jacobs in March and Canelo Alvarez in September, then I don’t know who has a better year than Gennady.”
“This is the fight we’ve been working for. Every fight since September of 2012 were steps towards this. Canelo has agreed and all the work that Gennady has done has brought him here.”
“We met with HBO and they had a list of over twenty fighters, Gennady was willing to fight everyone on the list. The first step was Madison Square Garden taking a big interest in him. The plan was to build him up in New York City and then we brought him to California, where he set records at the StubHubCenter. He’s fought in seven countries and 22 different cities but this is his first fight in Las Vegas.”
Golovkin on approaching record of middleweight title defenses: “I remember lots of great champions like Sugar Ray Leonard, Carlos Monzon, Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins holds the record at 20 and this will be 19 for me. This would be a great accomplishment.”
Abel Sanchez’s thoughts on the same: “We know that all of these records were meant to be broken. With the way Gennady’s going, he may have five to six more defenses. Everyone has an era. I would have liked to see him fight Bernard in his prime or Roy Jones, Jr. in his prime.”
Loeffler on unifying the middleweight division: “Ever since Gennady won the WBA championship, he’s wanted to fight the best in the division. Felix Sturm was a mandatory for two years and he did everything he could to avoid that fight. It was the same for Sergio Martinez because he chose to fight Cotto instead. (WBO middleweight champion) Billy Joe Saunders wants telephone numbers to get into the ring with him and that’s what’s made it so difficult to unify the division.”
Gennady on the advice Abel gives during bouts: “He tells me to be patient. Abel’s a different guy. His style is different from when I was an amateur.”
On continuing on at age 35: "I hope I can. I think I can 4 to 5 years more. This is boxing and it’s dangerous. One punch can change your life. I’m comfortable with the support of my family and my team.”
Sanchez on Canelo’s record: Canelo’s got the wear and tear on him. His fights have been longer and he’s been in over 50 fights. We don’t have the long period training camps like we used to and certainly, our fights are much shorter because Gennady has so many knockouts."