Just two weeks ago, a welcome shock rippled through the boxing world in the moments after Saul (Canelo) Alvarez scored a lopsided unanimous decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. That fight was overshadowed by the immediate announcement that Alvarez at long last would face Gennady Golovkin, who holds the WBC, WBA, IBF and IBO middleweight titles on Sept. 16.
It’s the biggest event in boxing since Floyd Mayweather Jr. finally took on Manny Pacquiao two years ago in a fight that disappointed because Pacquiao hid a shoulder injury that later required surgery. Abel Sanchez, who trains “GGG” and was in New York to watch WBC and WBO super lightweight champion Terence Crawford face Felix Diaz Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, says Golovkin-Alvarez will be the antidote to Pacquiao-Mayweather.
“I’m happy that it didn’t wait like the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight,” Sanchez said of negotiations that lasted more than five years. “I think the PPV market has shown the effects of the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight because people have rebelled and not bought.
“This fight is happening at a time that boxing needs it. I think this fight is going to live up to the hype and live up to the kind of fights we used to see back when the “Four Horsemen” (Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler) were fighting. It should revive our industry.”
Mayweather undeniably was one of the greatest defensive fighters in history, but his style often sucked the excitement out of fights. By contrast, Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) and Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) are noted action fighters.
Although Alvarez avoided Golovkin by fighting primarily in the 154-pound junior middleweight class, Sanchez said he’s a natural middleweight, which means he and Golovkin are on equal footing. Alvarez fought Chavez at a catchweight of 164 pounds and beat him from pillar to post, showing he is capable of holding his own at 160 pounds.
“Both guys come forward, both guys throw punches,” Sanchez said. “One guy has a little more combination punching, which is Canelo, with his hand speed. They’re not Floyd in the defensive department, but they both come to fight. As fans, that’s what we want to see.”
It’s a common perception Alvarez avoided Golovkin, who had a string of 23 straight stoppages until winning a close unanimous decision over Brooklyn’s Daniel Jacobs in March at the Garden. Sanchez said it wasn’t a case of Golovkin “struggling” that night but simply of Jacobs being bigger and good enough to survive an early knockdown to make it close.
In a perverse way, Sanchez said the end of Golovkin’s KO streak may have lured Alvarez into the ring. “I think [it helped] a lot, but I think it’s more important to note that Canelo, in his mind even before the Jacobs fight, felt that not only the timing was right but the pressure from the fans and [media] was kind of forcing him into that fight,” Sanchez said. “Canelo, I think, in his mind, feels this is the right time.”
No venue has yet been announced for the fight, but Sanchez said it’s correct to believe it will be held in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium, which can seat 100,000 or at 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Casino backing would allow the site fee to compete with the revenue that might be generated at AT&T Stadium by an extra 80,000 spectators.
“At the end of the day, there’s two guys, whether it’s in Dallas and there’s 100,000 people or it’s in Vegas and there’s 20,000 people,” Sanchez said.
More importantly, Sanchez believes Canelo’s style and mindset will play into the hands of GGG, whose ability to cut off the ring and force the fight is legendary.
“I think it’s going to be the machismo of a Mexican on Canelo’s part to put on a fight that didn’t happen with Chavez,” Sanchez said. “That pressure and Golovkin’s constant pressure in style are going to make for a clash. The guy that can impose his will is going to have a great night.”