Oscar De La Hoya’s reverential status with Mexican fight fans might have been tarnished for good had it not been for the ultimate ace he had safely tucked up his sleeve.
His Cinco De Mayo fiasco between Saul Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr had just concluded to a chorus of derision when he made his big play, beckoning Gennady Golovkin to the ring for the announcement of a September 16 super fight against his man Canelo.
The mood changed instantaneously as attention switched from the fight nobody had wanted to see, to the fight everybody wants to see.
De La Hoya and all those involved in Saturday night’s promotion had been talking up this Mexican feud for weeks, using a tangible animosity between Alvarez and Chavez to give it the big sell.
But the powerful narrative couldn’t mask the harsh reality of this mismatch once the first bell had sounded and Canelo tore into his opponent like a spiteful child setting about a bargain basement piñata.
The gulf in class was reflected by the 120-108 whitewash on the cards, and Michael Buffer’s postfight proclamations were accompanied by audible venting from a crowd of almost 20,000 who had shelled out big bucks to watch a show which had peaked two hours earlier with Lucas Matthysse’s knockout of Emmanuel Taylor.
But then came the drama, a stirring video teaser on the big screens and Triple G’s entrance to the strains of ‘Seven Nation Army’. It was pure theatre and jeers turned into cheers as those in attendance quickly forgot about the epic swindle they had just witnessed.
Indeed, what did it say about how De Le Hoya viewed the Chavez fight that the Golovkin deal was signed in advance, and the Kazakh was positioned yards away ready for the WWE-style ring rush?
In fact, Saturday night’s event boiled down to little more than a lavish commercial for September’s middleweight showdown, with the humiliated Chavez ushered out of view to leave the tantalising sight of Canelo and Golovkin standing nose to nose for the first time.
“GGG, you are next my friend. The fight is done,” said Alvarez, playing to the crowd. “I’ve never feared anyone, since I was 16 fighting as a professional. I’m happy to give the fans another great fight.” Golovkin, 35, the unified WBA, WBC and IBF 160lb champion, replied: “In September, it will be a different style. A big drama show. I’m ready. Canelo looked very good tonight, and 100 per cent is the biggest challenge of my career.”
A venue is yet to be confirmed with De La Hoya touting all sorts of exotic possibilities. The likelihood, however, is that the lure of Las Vegas will bring the action back to the T-Mobile Arena, or the potential of a monster gate will see it land at the 80,000-seater AT&T Stadium in Texas.
De La Hoya said: “I’ve already had several calls from people interested in staging this fight. I have a missed called from Dubai. I have a missed call from the UK where Anthony Joshua and Klitschko just sold out 90,000 people. There’s interest from all over the world.”
First of all, Canelo had a score to settle. Class is often rooted at the heart of Mexican rivalries and this was no different.
Erik Morales relished using Marco Antonio Barrera’s privileged upbringing as an extra reason to froth at the mouth heading into battle and, likewise, Canelo made no secret that his dislike of Chavez was amplified by the nepotism his rival was afforded by his celebrated bloodline.
Chavez’s career has unravelled in the past five years but this seemed like his chance to right the wrongs, a 36-minute shortcut to respectability. A night when one authentic ‘Mexican’ performance could permanently alter perceptions.
As it transpired, he delivered the absolute antithesis. Canelo immediately seized the centre of the ring and punished Chavez with his jab. Soon came the right hands, the uppercuts, the nasty left hooks to the body.
Canelo could not miss and the combinations got flashier and more hurtful. As early as the third round it was evident Chavez wanted none of it.
Canelo looked magnificent, but in contrast to the pre-fight hyperbole, this wasn’t a defining night for his career. That comes in September.
Tyson Fury will target a comeback fight on July 8, provided he overturns a suspended drugs ban at a UK Anti-Doping hearing on Monday.
Fury has not fought since beating Wladimir Klitschko for the world heavyweight titles in November 2015, due to a combination of drug issues and mental health concerns.
But in the wake of Anthony Joshua’s stunning Wembley win over Klitschko, Fury has returned to training and is intent on securing an all-British super-fight with the new champion.
Fury’s camp are confident they can avoid further sanction from UKAD, which banned him over a positive test for nandrolone in June last year, only to suspend the sanction pending an appeal and further investigations.
But Fury must also convince the British Boxing Board of Control that he deserves to win back his boxing licence, which was stripped after his admission he had taken a recreational drug, as well as subsequent mental health concerns.
Fury’s promoter Frank Warren told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme: “He has been having treatment and the view is that after nearly 18 months now he is mentally fit to resume training.
“The bottom line is we believe and hope the treatment has been successful and hopefully he gets his licence back because it is good for him to earn money as a boxer, but more importantly it is good for his health and well-being that he has something going for him in his life.
“Provided Tyson is OK he has said he would like to fight on July 8. There’s no problem arranging that, but the most important thing is he’s 100 per cent mentally well before he gets back in the ring.”
If Fury does win his case with UKAD, the return of his licence will be no mere formality, with the BBBC expected to take some time to consider a number of factors before deciding whether to allow him to fight again.
Warren added that ideally Fury would have a number of warm-up bouts before facing Joshua, despite the former champion’s claim he was so unimpressed with Joshua’s win over Klitschko that he could fight and beat him without a warm-up.
Warren added: “I honestly do believe that it will not be long before he gets his belts back – he’s head and shoulders above all the other heavyweights in the world at the moment.
“You look at the performance of Anthony Joshua which was brave, heroic and very, very exiting – but the difference in how they handled Klitschko was vast and Tyson was far superior.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez cruised to a unanimous decision over Julio Chavez Jr. in a 12-round mismatch Saturday then announced in the ring that his next fight would be against Gennady Golovkin.
After crushing Chavez, the WBO light middleweight champ said he is set to face middleweight champ Golovkin on September 16.
“Golovkin, you are next, my friend. Where are you? It’s on,” Alvarez said before bringing Golovkin into the T-Mobile Arena ring with him.
Golovkin didn’t have to travel far to make the announcement as he watched Alvarez’s fight from ringside in Las Vegas.
“Congratulations,” he told Alvarez. “I feel excited to be part of this big drama show.”
With his win over Chavez, Alvarez claimed Mexican bragging rights on Cinco de Mayo weekend.
“I showed I can move, box and do all those things against a fighter who was bigger,” Alvarez said. “He wouldn’t throw punches.”
The 26-year-old Alvarez used Chavez for target practice, landing jabs, hooks and combinations at will as he won every round of the 164-pound (75 kg) fight on all three judges’ scorecards.
Chavez, who has a four inch (10 cm) height advantage, was booed during and after the fight by the Vegas crowd.
Alvarez treated the lopsided bout as if it were a sparring session, even standing between rounds for the entire fight.
“I never sit down during sparring and it is not necessary there and it wasn’t necessary here. I told my corner I wouldn’t sit down until it was necessary,” Alvarez said.
He landed 228 punches to just 71 for Chavez and an incredible 31 percent of his jabs connected as he had his way with former champion Chavez, who has largely made his career off the name of his famous boxing champion father Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.
Alvarez improved to 49-1-1 with his only loss coming against Floyd Mayweather in 2013.
There was no title on the line Saturday as Alvarez moved up in weight to fight the much bigger Chavez at a catchweight of 164lbs.
Alvarez was the heavy favorite going into the fight and it didn’t take long to see why. Chavez had no answer for the punches from Alvarez which often came in combinations of three, four and sometimes even six.
Chavez, 31, was bleeding from the left nostril in the fifth round. By the final round, he was bleeding from both nostrils and his left eye was almost swollen shut.
He said Alvarez’s counterpunches were taking a toll on him.
“He beat me. If I attacked more, I would be open for more counterpunches,” Chavez said.
Provided by Agence France-Presse