IT shouldn’t matter what is on the Canelo-Golovkin undercard because, well, Canelo-Golovkin is the main event. But a boxing event wouldn’t be a boxing event without boxing fans grumbling about something so – with top of the bill impossible to criticise – it’s the lack of a marquee name among the supporting cast that is the only downside.
The criticism is harsh. Frankly, nobody ever remembers undercards. Canelo-Golovkin coming together on September 16 at the T-Mobile Arena should be all that matters. Who really cares that a champion isn’t being the handed opportunity to feast on a massive underdog before the real fight begins?
For what it’s worth, the undercard can boast a selection of decent trade contests that should entertain even if today’s press conference to promote them didn’t. But then, press conferences in Las Vegas – where God is namedropped, where Tecate’s showgirls smile for an impossibly long time and their oversized beer cans are the king of product placement – rarely do.
The pick of the bunch is a super-bantamweight 10-rounder between minor Golden Boy stars, Randy Caballero, 24-0 (14), and Diego De La Hoya, 19-0 (9).
“It’s a 50-50 fight,” said Golden Boy’s Eric Gomez. “There are implications with this fight and if Canelo is willing to put his career at risk against ‘Triple G’, then these guys are willing to make that sacrifice too. To become a champion, to become the next star, you have take tough fights.
“Diego is related to [Golden Boy boss] Oscar [De La Hoya]. But in many ways Caballero is like a son to us.”
Diego – the cousin of Oscar – added: “This fight is going to catapult me close to a world title and I’ve been training for this for the last seven weeks. Randy has prepared well, and we know that we’re going to steal the show.”
Caballero, a former IBF bantamweight champion, countered: “I respect him but I have way more experience. There’s no way I’m not going to win this fight.”
The chief-support is a featherweight 12-rounder between South El Monte, California’s Joseph Diaz Jnr, 24-0 (13), and late substitute Rafael Rivera, 25-0-2 (16), of Mexico.
Rivera stepped in when the injured Jorge Lara pulled out (Gomez today expressed his doubts about the validity of Lara’s withdrawal) and, with a fight scheduled for next week, was happy to take this chance. The WBC will sanction the contest as an official eliminator.
Opening the HBO pay-per-view broadcast (at 5pm local time, 8pm eastern and 1am on BoxNation in the UK) is a solid 10-round super-lightweight between Ryan Martin, 19-0 (11) and Francisco Rojo, 19-2 (12).
Elsewhere, British Olympic hero Nicola Adams, 2-0 (1), continues her professional career to open the whole event with a four-rounder against Hungary’s Alexandra Vlajk, 11-6 (2). An interesting aside is that Adams, who is promoted in the UK by Frank Warren, will take her seat at ringside immediately after her bout to cheer on her girlfriend, Marlen Esparza, when she fights Aracely Palacios in a six-rounder. Both are trained by Virgil Hunter.
“It’s been really good just to train alongside each other,” Adams said of appearing on the same show as her partner. “It’s almost like being in the amateurs again. You train, finish off the camp and then you go to the camp. We share a dressing room.”
Beat that, Canelo and Golovkin.