MY Boxing News predecessor Tris Dixon started his reign as editor imploring Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to fight. Back then, at the start of 2010, it was the fight the world wanted to see. In the end, he got so tired of writing about it, as rumours became failed negotiations, as the fighters started to slip from their glorious peaks, the subject of Mayweather and Pacquiao lost its meaning; the only thing the two fighters exchanged during Dixon’s five-year tenure was blame as to why the contest was not happening.
In that time, MMA started its rise. The best fought the best at the drop of a hat, glorious promotions gave the fans exactly what they wanted to see. As boxing looked down on its fistic counterpart, MMA looked up and continued to teach us how it should be done. It’s not just MMA, of course. Every single sport on the planet must be defined by its leaders – leaders who have proved they are the best in their field, who leave no doubt about their supremacy by turning back the challenge of their closest rivals. While sport is indeed a business, for that business to truly flourish, those who are paying the money must be given the contests, the matches, the competitions they want – otherwise what is the point?
Six years and nine months later, boxing is in danger of falling foul of egos, demands and blame-slinging yet again. Last week, the latest elusive top-level showdown to stain the sport was in the headlines for the umpteenth time. Take a bow, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.
Canelo’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya referenced the Mayweather-Pacquiao saga. “It took Mayweather and Pacquiao five years before they fought,” he said in effort to quell the frustration that we have been waiting ‘only’ 18 months for Alvarez-Golovkin. Oh, that’s okay then. But, of course it’s not.
The fans are not the only casualties in all of this. For every fight that Alvarez and Golovkin take part in that isn’t against the other, the opponent they are facing is largely disrespected. The latest case in point is Liverpool’s Liam Smith, who was drafted in as Canelo’s latest opponent when Team Alvarez deemed their fighter wasn’t quite ready to compete as a fully-fledged middleweight, despite disguising himself as a middleweight since 2013.
Alvarez was visibly frustrated in Dallas with fielding accusations about running from “GGG”, as reporters all but ignored the contest that was days away. It shouldn’t be like this. When a fight occurs, particularly one marketed as one of the biggest events of the year, the interest should be centred around that fight only. Simply, as a rule, a pay-per-view event must be a two-fighter event, an event where the outcome isn’t clear before it’s even started. There must be intrigue and excitement. Just because one fighter is a massive underdog, and therefore ‘might’ score one of the biggest upsets the world has ever seen, doesn’t make it worthwhile. It is not acceptable to have so many ‘superfights’ occurring when one of the participants is not being picked to win by anyone. When the huge betting favourite wins time and again, the magic of boxing disappears. It becomes only an exhibition of one man’s talent, and another man’s bravery.
After the beyond brave Smith was beaten, Alvarez and De La Hoya claimed they had offered Team Golovkin in the region of $10m to fight. The blame game is here again.
Thankfully, boxing is not hopeless to its core. In November, Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev collide. But there’s still no sign of the fight we want the most.
The legacies of Golovkin and Alvarez will mean nothing if they do not accept their toughest challenges. Mayweather and Pacquiao will be affected by fighting five years too late – after all, true greatness is only achieved by conquering your closest rivals when they’re at their best. Golovkin and Alvarez must take note.