September 22, 2016
September 22, 2016
Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward undercard

Khristopher Sandifer/Roc Nation Sports

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SINCE their respective wins over the past couple of weekends, Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez will both have read and heard plenty of talk, from fans and media alike, about how they must now fight each other.

That is absolutely right – they should fight each other as soon as possible. In fact, they should have already fought each other at least once and we could be talking about a potential rematch by this point.

However they haven’t and, according to the rhetoric from their teams, a deal for the biggest fight in the sport isn’t close to being struck. The public response to this reality has, quite rightfully, been condemning. What is slightly off the mark is how some observors view the Canelo-Golovkin scenario as a microcosm of everything that is wrong with boxing, that because these two superstars have not yet fought, boxing is a sinking ship.

The sport will always have a few holes in its hull and there’ll always be some water on deck, but it seems a stretch to condemn it to the murky depths of obscurity so swiftly.

First off, despite not fighting each other, Canelo and Golovkin generated an enormous amount of interest for their recent outings. ‘GGG’ took on welterweight champion Kell Brook in one of the most bizarre match-ups of recent years. In the UK, where it took place and from where Brook hails, it was a colossal event with thousands of fans just turning up to the public workouts. Tickets for fight night sold out in 11 minutes.

Golovkin’s international profile soared, as did Brook’s after his gutsy effort in what turned out to be a great scrap.

In Texas, Mexican Alvarez proved he is the biggest draw in the sport when he attracted over 50,000 people to the AT&T Stadium in Arlington – setting the venue’s attendance record for a boxing event – while fighting Liam Smith, who was previously anonymous in America.

That interest is both a good and bad thing. On the one hand, it shows quite blatantly that there is huge interest in the sport and that it can still produce bonafide stars not named Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. However it also says to those stars that they can take easier fights and still cash humungous cheques.

To clarify; Canelo-Golovkin has to happen, and within the next 12 months at the most. However despite the bleak outlook on that front, there is still a lot going on elsewhere.

Just last year we saw one of the biggest upsets in recent memory when Tyson Fury waltzed over to Germany and dethroned heavyweight supremo Wladimir Klitschko. That sent shockwaves around the world and the pair have recently signed to meet again on October 29. That’s the two best heavyweights on the planet meeting in a very necessary rematch – it’s a huge event.

A few weeks after that we’ll also get the best matchup, on paper, of 2016 when Andre Ward challenges Sergey Kovalev for his WBA, WBO and IBF world light-heavyweight titles. Yes, we had to endure some pointless warm-up fights but with all things considered it was a fairly quick turnaround to get the fight confirmed. Neither man is yet a crossover star but they are both easily in the top five best fighters in the world pound for pound. Both undefeated, they are each taking an enormous risk by facing the other and that is brilliant and should be the norm.

This weekend we’ll see the two best lightweights in the world, Jorge Linares and Anthony Crolla, square off in what will be a rocking Manchester Arena. That is another outstanding 50-50 fight which, admittedly, would be a lot bigger were it not coming directly off the back of Golovkin and Canelo’s recent outings.

Carl Frampton has already prevailed in two huge events this year when he unified the super-bantamweight division against Scott Quigg before winning the WBA featherweight world title against Leo Santa Cruz. Both fights were on many a wish list and the latter ended up being one of the fights of the year.

In fact, British boxing is on arguably its biggest ever high. The names mentioned above alongside the likes of James DeGale, Tony Bellew, Jamie McDonnell, Billy Joe Saunders, Terry Flanagan and others have earned unprecedented levels of success in the ring.

Then there is IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua who, despite his lack relative lack of in-ring experience, leads the pack from a commercial point of view. Nowadays anytime he fights is a national event and if he were to meet the likes of WBC champion Deontay Wilder, the Fury-Klitschko winner or David Haye, the intrigue would be stratospheric. His recent deal with US broadcasters Showtime also opens the door to a massive market across the pond for him.

We also saw Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, two of the world’s top welterweights, war with each other a few months ago in another fight of the year contender.

Current pound for pound king Roman Gonzalez is lighting up the lower weight classes and the super-flyweight division is now looking like one of the most exciting in the world.

That’s not to say boxing isn’t without its problems. Fighters like Adonis Stevenson, Danny Garcia and Adrien Broner (who all, incidentally, box under the Premier Boxing Champions umbrella) frequently swerve serious challenges in favour of lucrative showcase fights. The fallout from Mayweather-Pacquiao last year left an air of mistrust in America, with plenty of fans now unwilling to shell out for pay-per-view fights which could turn out to be duds.

Elsewhere there are plenty of examples of the best fighting the best; now we just need Canelo and Golovkin to do the same.