The trick seems to have worked. Or has it? Canelo Alvarez vs Amir Khan, boxing’s version of an effects-laden summer film created by marketing analysts, appears to have done solid numbers, at least according to some. Sources claim “Khanelo,” which was more an act of clever marketing than a serious match-up, did over half-a-million pay-per-view buys. Then again, other reliable sources claim it did far less. And while it’s true Oscar DeLaHoya and the gang over at Golden Boy Promotions may or may not end up happy with the results of their attention and revenue grab, what do the financial results – whatever they may be – say about the sport of boxing as a whole, particularly as it pertains to the contemporary PPV marketplace?
Perhaps nothing good. Truth be told, all may not be well when it comes to the PPV business, at least as it pertains to boxing. Sure, the Khan fight may — “may” being the operative word here — prove a profitable gambit, but even so, how long can the ‘Canelo Alvarez Money Express’ last? Anyone who follows boxing knows Amir Khan was picked as a very ripe cherry in order to nullify any accusations of Canelo ducking Gennady Golovkin, his fellow middleweight titlist and mandatory opponent.
Indeed, Khan was a known commodity who had just enough going for him to make what turned out to be a mismatch appear somewhat plausible. But what happens if Team Canelo continues to veer away from a match with the formidable Golovkin, a bout fans truly want to see? Will people be content to watch another popular, but outgunned fighter take his chances against the Mexican power-puncher? It’s hard to imagine Golden Boy repeating the same kind of stunt or to think of a suitable opponent. With Manny Pacquiao now salted away in his homeland’s government there really isn’t another name people will bite at.
Kell Brook? Keith Thurman? Shawn Porter? Tim Bradley? It’s hard to imagine any of those names bringing in decent numbers in a PPV event with Canelo. Only Mayweather can bring in major revenue, and is Canelo, who appears at least in public to have morphed into something of a diva, really willing to play the B-Side to the Money Team again? Maybe not. Who then can Canelo fight on PPV for solid numbers if not Golovkin? Maybe Cotto, and even that match-up is questionable. The reality is that the money express may have reached the end of the line. Oh, the guy can still earn, no question, but how much if he doesn’t face GGG?
That may actually be something the Golden Boy crew may try to find out. Golovkin is indeed expected to best Canelo, should the two ever meet. And if that were to happen, Golden Boy might lose its ‘Golden Boy’ and no longer have a top earner on its roster. Perhaps Oscar and company might just decide it’s better to settle for diminishing returns for Alvarez than to deal with the loss of prestige a defeat at the gloves of GGG might bring to the Canelo brand.
While that sort of thing certainly won’t be good for Canelo’s legacy, it might preserve the cash flow for a bit. At what cost, though? As things stand, Adonis Stevenson is the most written off man in boxing for appearing to have avoided Sergey Kovalev. That mantle may soon rest on Canelo’s shoulders, however, and it will be a heavy one to carry. Stevenson hasn’t so much been rejected by boxing’s fandom, after all, as he’s been simply forgotten about. For all their bluster, boxing fans don’t hate so much as they pick up and move on.
Indeed, the speed with which such fans have shrugged off Stevenson and the lineal light heavyweight title and rendered it irrelevant is extraordinary when one thinks of the history and prestige behind it. And make no mistake, those same fans will forget about the lineal middleweight championship just as abruptly, if they haven’t already. Boxing fans in the post Mayweather-Pacquiao era simply aren’t going to take any crap. It’s that simple.
Still, Team Canelo may try to see how far it can take matters. Or, it may surprise some people and end up giving the fans the fight they want. Who knows? Maybe Canelo will even best the fearsome Golovkin. It’s not like stranger things haven’t happened. We all know Canelo can certainly hit and it’s hard to imagine the man not entering the ring completely determined. That’s what makes Canelo vs GGG a better match-up than Canelo-Khan. Everyone knows the underdog has a much better chance of winning this time around. — Sean Crose