Canelo vs Golovkin: No Marinating Please!

Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports had some interesting things to say in the aftermath of an agreement between the World Boxing Council, its middleweight champ Canelo Alvarez, and power-punching maestro Gennady Golovkin. While the two fighters were supposed to be each other’s next opponents by order of the WBC itself, the organization has decided to change all that…to the surprise of absolutely no one.

“Sulaiman,” Iole writes, “had said in May, after Alvarez defeated James Kirkland and Golovkin bested Willie Monroe, that he would allow the Alvarez-Miguel Cotto fight to go forward as long as the winner agreed within 15 days to fight Golovkin next.”

Will he or won't he?
Will he or won’t he?

The Sulaiman Iole mentions here is, of course WBC head-honcho for life, Muaricio Sulaiman, who took over the helm of the controversial organization upon the death of his father, Jose, in 2014. “As is often the case in boxing,” Iole continues, “it (Sulaiman’s statement) was a bunch of bull.”

Indeed, the WBC has decided to allow both Canelo and GGG to have a “voluntary defense” apiece before having to face each other, even though Canelo’s victory over Cotto late last month has long since passed. Needless to say, Iole isn’t happy about it: “This is enough to make one want to give up on the sport and quit watching,” he writes. “It’s a bad day; a very bad day.”

Some of boxing’s Twitter brigade mocked Iole for his angst, taking umbrage at his supposed hyperbole. These snipers may be snarky and funny, but they’re not giving Iole – or his argument – their just due.

Sulaiman: Does a leopard change its spots?
Sulaiman: Does a leopard change its spots?

For there’s real validity to Iole’s complaints. Some boxing writers and insiders see themselves as the voices of maturity and reason when it comes to such matters. Boxing is boxing, after all, and things just run a bit differently around here. So goes their reasoning. What’s more, to disagree with this particular line of thinking is apparently scorn worthy.

Why, though? What’s wrong with wanting the best to fight the best without almost a full year coming and going? Because more money could be made? What difference does that make to fans, analysts and writers? Because fighters put their health at undue risk when they face real challenges with frequency?  If that’s the case, why hasn’t it ever been publicly addressed?

Besides, Canelo knew what had to be next for him after he faced Cotto. And let’s not even get into the health of the possible no-hopers Canelo and Golovkin may face in their next outings. Why, then, should fans be okay with all this? “Promoter Oscar De La Hoya, who repeatedly talks about the best facing the best,” Iole writes, had previously “waffled when pressured by Yahoo Sports about whether Golovkin would be next.” Very telling.

According to the WBC, the winner of Cotto-Canelo had to agree to take on Golovkin within
The WBC’s strict conditions for Cotto-Canelo turn out to be not so strict.

Indeed, Canelo’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, has taken to the word “marinate” lately, as in Canelo-GGG needs to marinate a bit before we make it happen. Here’s a question, though: what if the WBC makes another exception to its own ruling in the near future? Suppose, for instance, De La Hoya decides his fighter is better served if things continue to marinate after both Canelo and GGG engage in their “voluntary defenses”? Will the WBC then put its foot down and  truly demand the two men fight? Will it matter? Honestly, no one knows.

And that in itself is a sad thing. Boxing fans should be able to expect the WBC to do what it says it will. Sadly, boxing fans can’t. There’s simply nothing for them to base their trust on.

Take, for instance, team Canelo’s former statement that he won’t face Golovkin at the middleweight limit of 160 lbs. This assertion is ridiculous. Canelo will presumably be defending the middleweight title, after all, and middleweights can weigh up to 160 lbs at the weigh in. Will Canelo be reminded of this or will the WBC and others allow for another ridiculous catch-weight title fight? According to recent reports, Canelo has agreed to face Golovkin at the normal weight limit, but boxing fans will believe it when they see it.

Does Canelo vs this guy really need "marinating"?
Golovkin, and boxing fans, must wait.

Ultimately, this may all prove to be much ado about nothing. Both GGG and Canelo may get past their next opponents before finally facing each other next fall at 160 lbs with no shenanigans tarnishing the varnish. Fans have reason to worry though, and that’s too bad. Boxing has never been known as the most honorable of human endeavors, but when we have to wait not months, but years, to see the best fight the best, the sport is in sad shape indeed.

Many fans have abandoned boxing for things like the UFC. Say what you will about Dana White, but UFC fans seem to see the matches they want to see and not three or four years down the road. McGregor faces Aldo. Holm may well rematch Rousey (so long as Rousey wants it). Will Canelo, on the other hand, actually face GGG with no strings attached? Will Kovalev fight Stevenson? Will any prominent Al Haymon boxer face another name fighter who isn’t in the same stable?

Again, we don’t know. And no, it’s not the height of maturity to think that’s okay, to accept it with a shrug, and mock anyone genuinely pissed off. Sneer at Iole’s outbursts all you want; he, and all boxing fans, are more than entitled to their indignation.        

— Sean Crose

2 thoughts on “Canelo vs Golovkin: No Marinating Please!

  • December 17, 2015 at 9:44 pm
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    You hit the nail on the head, in the next to last paragraph. I was just discussing this with someone the other day. Say what you will about UFC, but their fans consistently see the best facing the best. No. 1 vs. No.2, No.3 vs. No.4, so on and so on. In boxing we are lucky if the champion of a division fights someone in the top 20; champions facing even top 10 in their division has become almost non-existent. It’s no wonder it’s become a niche sport and what Iole and yourself speak of is one of the main reasons why.

    Reply
  • December 18, 2015 at 9:52 pm
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    Wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment expressed, but I feel Canelo-Golovkin is not an especially egregious case. The underlying situation is absurd, but Canelo facing a real 160lber before he faces the neighbourhood killer is understandable if not desirable.

    Far more worthy of scorn is the extent to which ordinary match-ups such as Thurman-Porter, for example -or Kovalev-Stevenson for that matter – are now proving as torturous to make as super fights were 20 years ago. It’s appalling.

    And the ‘maturity’ point is well made. The sneering contempt some so-called fans now have for the mere expression of the idea that the top guys should fight each other shows how deep the rot has set in. Fans, writers, promoters, managers, trainers, networks, and or course the fighters themselves are all stakeholders in this game. But sadly a lot of fans and a sickening number of writers have sold out their own constituency entirely, and have transformed into a strange group of company men who do not even have a stake in the company.

    The rhetoric of business is everywhere you look in the sport these days. And the rhetoric of competition has worryingly few ambassadors.

    Reply

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