No one saw this coming. Seriously, who really expected to the Nevada State Athletic Commission to temporarily suspend Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, a man widely regarded as the favored child of the boxing capital of the world? Few if anyone, that’s who. You know it and so do I. In fact, I was so sure the powers that be in Nevada would do next to nothing about Canelo’s two failed drug tests that I stated in this very publication that the commission would likely live down to its reputation.
Surprise, surprise. News of a Canelo suspension broke last Friday. Even if he’s totally cleared at a hearing scheduled for April 18, there’s no way Canelo can fully salvage his reputation at this point. Despite the possibility that the man might be innocent – after all, who can say for sure? – he will still live with a question mark over his head for quite some time. And that’s a terrible thing. It seems like many, if not most, believe Alvarez did indeed willingly ingest the banned substance Clenbuterol, rather than doing so accidentally, as his camp claims. His reputation has taken a solid hit that may have long-term repercussions.
And it’s worth wondering what role the commission’s surprise decision played in all of this. While some are arguing that the NSAC is merely acting in its best interest and that it will almost certainly clear Canelo before arguing that it played by the rules, others feel that the Canelo vs Golovkin rematch scheduled for May 5 is in serious danger of falling apart. Not that it matters. By giving it’s official marker of distrust, if not downright dismay, the NSAC, otherwise one of Canelo’s great cheerleaders, has branded the man suspect. It’s a stunning state of affairs, right now. For Canelo vs GGG II is, as of this moment, stuck in limbo. It may be stuck there for a long time to come.
As has been stated over and over again the past few days, it really doesn’t matter at this point if the rematch happens and Canelo wins. People will say he cheated. And, should Golovkin somehow end up the victor, people might well claim it’s because Canelo got off the PEDs. Knowledge of the modern “cycling” use of performance enhancing drugs might refute that second assertion, but no matter. Canelo is now a man under suspicion, plain and simple.
And who knows how all this is going to impact the pay-per-views this fight should get, should the match even go down this spring? There are those who have argued that this scandal will generate interest, but I’m not so sure. Curiosity is one thing. Coughing up serious money for a guy who tested dirty – for whatever the reason – is something else entirely.
Sure, we diehards will still pay for the fight should it happen in May, but it’s “casuals” who make the fight world go round. If at least some considerable percentage of mainstream fans don’t show at house parties or gatherings to watch the festivities, the bout could prove to be a financial disappointment. Something that I’ve found ominous in the past few days is the relative silence coming from Canelo’s considerable fan base. Maybe I’ve just missed the fact that people are running to the guy’s defense, but I haven’t noticed much of that, despite the fact I expected to.
Perhaps Canelo’s fans are stunned and don’t know what to make of it all. Or perhaps they’re willing to let those who don’t like Canelo – and this group has big numbers of its own – rant and rave for a while. Or perhaps Canelo’s own fans are starting to think he’s dirty. I’ve noticed one or two self-described Canelo supporters say as much. No one knows the truth of course, at least not yet. But the arrows don’t seem to be pointing in a good direction, for both Canelo’s hard-earned popularity and a fight which figured to be one of the biggest of 2018.
Ultimately, though, it’s Golovkin who might be getting the rawest deal here. He’s not the one who got popped for testing dirty, after all. Furthermore, the man has struggled for years to finally have the chance to fight for the undisputed middleweight crown. After being avoided by seemingly everyone, Canelo Alvarez was all that stood between GGG and true glory. And now that glory, if it’s even attained, may be tainted, or at least somewhat overshadowed by the actions – intentional or not – of Canelo. GGG has been a bit overheated lately, but it’s hard to fault the man for being angry. He’s climbed a tall mountain, yet one thing after another seems to keep him from truly savoring the view from the summit.
It’s just one big mess at this point, with no winners and a bunch of losers, including boxing fans who were really looking forward to the rematch. And as of right now, the chances of that fight being salvaged look increasingly remote. Maybe I’m wrong. But for now, in limbo we are. All we can do is wait for April 18. — Sean Crose