By Ben Sullivan
Now this is truly a big fight!
Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) and Kazakhstan’s Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) have global fan bases that are drooling over their fight Saturday night in Las Vegas.
But to the rest of the world, it isn’t getting nearly the attention of the Aug. 26 extravaganza that pitted UFC star Connor McGregor against boxing king Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Boxing fans appear to be buying in.
Tickets for the Alvarez/Golovkin bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas quickly sold out, which the Mayweather/McGregor card did not.
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya said that, unlike the unknown product fans got with Mayweather/McGregor, the proven resumes and fighting styles of Alvarez and Golovkin should create a close battle.
“The boxing public fully understands that this is the biggest fight in many years,” De La Hoya said. “This is the fight that people know for a fact, when they watch it, they are going to get an amazing fight.”
De La Hoya cited the disappointment of Mayweather’s long-awaited bout against Manny Pacquiao in 2015 as an example of a fight that took far too long to happen.
“This fight didn’t take seven or eight years to make,” De La Hoya said. “That’s the reason why this fight here is going to elevate boxing’s image to new heights. This is the new age of boxing.”
The 35-year-old Golovkin points to his dominance in the ring (he had a 23-fight knockout streak prior to a 12-round unanimous decision victory over Daniel Jacobs in March) as a reason that he has yet to secure a marquee fight, until now. But a win on Saturday, Golovkin said, could go a long way toward cementing his legacy as one of the greatest in the sport.
“It’s huge,” Golovkin said. “For me this win will be like a history fight, like Leonard vs. Hagler.”
The 27-year-old Alvarez has earned a reputation for not dodging tough opponents, having beaten acclaimed fighters such as Miguel Cotto and “Sugar” Shane Mosley in championship bouts. His lone professional loss in 51 career fights was a 12-round majority decision to Mayweather in 2013.
Alvarez said he has become a more complete fighter since that bout. “In that fight with Floyd, the only reason he beat me was because of experience,” Alvarez said. “I learned a lot. I feel more confident.”
Coincidentally, it is Mayweather that Golovkin’s team wants next if they are victorious on Saturday night. “Once Gennady beats Canelo, and let’s say he beats him in a way that Floyd didn’t, that’s a fight that’s a natural. Whether Floyd wants it or not, that’s a different story,” said Golovkin’s trainer Abel Sanchez.
But first, Golovkin knows that he has to get by Alvarez. He promises that this bout will be much different than what took place a few weeks ago in Las Vegas.