SAN DIEGO, May 18, 2016 – Wednesday afternoon, Golden Boy Promotions issued a written statement to news media announcing that WBC middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of Mexico would vacate his championship title in order to avoid being forced into a purse bid for a fight against his mandatory challenger, Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin of Kazahkstan.
The statement in its entirety:
Ring Magazine and Lineal Middleweight World Champion Canelo Alvarez today issued the following statement:
“After much consideration, today, I instructed my team at Golden Boy Promotions to continue negotiating a fight with Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin and to finalize a deal as quickly as possible. I also informed the WBC that I will vacate its title.
“For the entirety of my career, I have taken the fights that no one wanted because I fear no man. Never has that been more true than today. I will fight ‘GGG,’ and I will beat ‘GGG’ but I will not be forced into the ring by artificial deadlines.
“I am hopeful that by putting aside this ticking clock, the two teams can now negotiate this fight, and ‘GGG’ and I can get in the ring as soon as possible and give the fans the fight they want to see.”
Golden Boy Promotions Chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya today issued the following statement:
“There is no denying that Canelo is the biggest star in the sport of boxing. He is eager to get in the ring with ‘GGG’ to show the world that he is also the best pound for pound fighter in the sport, but we won’t negotiate under a forced deadline.
“Now that the WBC title is off the table, I am hopeful that ‘GGG’ and his promoter K2 Promotions will come to the table in good faith and get this deal done.”
Earlier this month, Alvarez stopped Amir Khan cold at 2:37 of the sixth round in his first and perhaps only defense of the WBC lineal middleweight championship. Following the fight, Alvarez said as Golovkin and trainer Abel Sanchez looked on, “Like we say in Mexico, we don’t f*** around. We don’t fight for rings and stuff like that. I don’t fear anyone. We don’t come to play in this sport, I fear no one in this sport. Like I said in the last fight, right now I’ll put on the gloves again.”
Alvarez and De La Hoya maintained the bravado through the post-fight news conference, in which they were peppered with questions on this topic. De La Hoya promised he would start negotiating immediately with Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler of K2.
Boxing fans immediately took to social media to express their disappointment. slamming Canelo as a coward, a chicken, and a poor representative of the Mexican Style warrior tradition of boxing. It’s hard to blame fans who simple crave the best fight to be made in boxing today for feeling this way.
Whether Canelo is truly avoiding Golovkin despite his bold statements, or merely trying to get a few more years’ of ring mileage on him before a showdown, this has less to do with courage and everything to do with money. The clock was ticking down to next Tuesday, when the mandated defense would have gone to a purse bid, a situation not favorable to Golden Boy and Alvarez, In a purse bid, the split for the two fighters is 55 percent to 45 percent. If Golden Boy is trying to work out a bigger share of the purse for Alvarez as the A-side fighter, this could result in losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Location could be another issue. Most observers believe Cowboys Stadium in Dallas is in play. But there is more money to be made at a Las Vegas venue, where ticket prices are far higher. With a proposed date in September, there is the potential of clashing with the current NFL schedule. Turning Cowboys Stadium into a boxing venue would be far easier in May.
Whatever the case, the belt is now in Golovkin’s hands. Once Alvarez relinquished the belt, the WBC immediately elevated Golovkin to full titleholder status from his interim status. “The WBC has received official confirmation from Golden Boy Promotions of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s decision to vacate the WBC middleweight championship,” Sulaiman said. “Gennady Golovkin is hereby recognized as the undisputed WBC middleweight champion of the world. The WBC wishes Canelo Alvarez great success in his career and will certainly look forward to seeing Golovkin vs. Alvarez materialize in the future.”
So any fight between Golovkin and Alvarez is STILL a fight for the same WBC belt. The only difference is that it’s around Golovkin’s waist at the start of the fight instead of Canelo’s waist. A belt doesn’t earn a fighter any more money. It’s a title, it’s an achievement, and it indicates status in the boxing hierarchy.
Nevertheless, the “optics” as some people like to say are negative for Canelo in the eyes of fans who want their boxers to be brave, often at the expense of their own best interests. Alvarez may truly want the fight right away, but De La Hoya and Golden Boy know Canelo is the moneymaking engine keeping Golden Boy Promotions solvent. They cannot afford to put his star status at risk without a huge payoff. Fans may not like it, but it makes sense from their perspective to try and delay the bout in a reasonable way.
De La Hoya doesn’t care if he plays the bad guy. He needs to do his best to protect Canelo, but Alvarez’s image has taken a hit. Fans don’t give much thought to the business aspect of sports whether boxing or anything else, and they don’t care. They simply want to see the best fight in boxing set a date now. It’s still possible, and all parties involved remain optimistic it will happen.
In the meantime, the one belt Golovkin still needs to complete his set is the WBO title belt held by Billy Joe Saunders of Great Britain. Saunders took to social media calling out GGG, but he also did so earlier this year, and no fight came of it.
Other options include top American contender Daniel Jacobs. A Golovkin vs Jacobs fight is an excellent match, but there are some promotional issues because Jacobs is managed by Al Haymon and is a Premier Boxing fighter. Still, Golovkin’s promoter Loeffler said after the Canelo post fight news conference he likes that fight.
The WBA announced it will give all parties more time to sort out their differences before ordering a mandatory defense.
If Canelo and Saunders end up out of the picture, Golovkin’s team will look for another challenger. The most likely candidate is IBF number one contender Tureano Johnson of the Bahamas, who was supposed to fight Golovkin in April but withdrew due to injury. Johnson is a Golden Boy fighter, and De La Hoya may concede on some terms as a peace offering to the Golovkin camp. Johnson wants it and he’s one of the few guys who really means it.
Waiting in the wings is Mexican super middleweight champion Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, who said on social media Wednesday if no one else is ready, he would gladly take on GGG. Not happening; Golvokin has never wavered from his goal to unify the middleweight division. He may move up to super middleweight eventually, but not until this happens.
There is a silver lining to all of this. According to WBC rules, any interim fight for Alvarez would have to take place at the full middleweight limit of 160 pounds. Alvarez and Golden Boy need to embrace this. For Canelo to be consider a true victor in any fight with Golovkin, he must win it at the middleweight limit, or at least within a pound or two of the limit. Not 155 pounds, “Caneloweight.” Canelo needs to test himself at 160 pounds with an easier opponent than Triple G. Look for an Alvarez vs. David Lemieux fight. Remember where you first read it.
Boxing fans, we know you are disappointed. Negotiations aren’t dead, they are continuing. Keep the faith, and (h/t to @MrsBoxingDiva) may #JesusBeAMatchmaker. Light a candle, it couldn’t hurt.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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