By Oscar De La Hoya: Dear Fight Fans, On the night of Saturday, September 15, fans were set to be treated to what sports should be all about: the two best athletes in a sport squaring off against each other with the winner earning the title of the best in the business. This kind of an event – where an individual can be called the best in any sport — is truly rare.
Not only did the fight itself deliver all that was promised, against all kinds of pressure, Canelo Alvarez gave the performance of his lifetime to secure the unified middleweight championship of the world.
Unfairly criticized for not fighting “Mexican” enough in the first fight, he kept Gennady Golovkin on his heals all night, taking the action to the “boogeyman of boxing,” walking him down and controlling the pace.
Repeatedly ravaged for two positive drug tests that showed minor traces of clenbuterol – a common occurrence in Mexico due to the contamination of beef across the country, Canelo submitted to more than 20 drug tests in the lead up to the fight and passed them all with flying colors.
Saddled with a judge’s card of a year ago that he had nothing to do with; the pressure of millions of fans watching; and what many were describing as a must-win to stay relevant, Canelo delivered a near-flawless fight.
It wouldn’t be boxing if thousands of keyboard warriors weren’t talking (or tweeting) complete nonsense in the hours and days after Canelo began to cement his legacy as an all-time great fighter.
Many have told me to ignore the haters; that I’ll never win. But while I know I won’t convince many of them, allowing them to even partly soil what was a certain fight of the year; a megaevent seen by millions of people; and a virtuoso performance by boxing’s marquis fighter would do a disservice to the sport I love.
So allow me to respond to a few of the more absurd comments.
Golden Boy paid the judges to fix the fight.
Though I don’t think this deserves response, here are the facts: The three judges were chosen by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Given the result of the first fight, NSAC was under a lot of scrutiny to come up with the fairest group of judges possible. For the first time I know of, GBP and team GGG were even allowed to approve a pool of judges. They saw what everyone else did; a close, competitive fight and scored it exactly that way.
Golovkin landed more punches and therefore should have won the fight.
If landed punches were the difference between winning or losing a boxing match, we would have an incredibly different and less interesting sport. Clean punching, ring generalship, effective aggressiveness and defense are what the judges are looking for in determining the winner of a round. I’m obviously a promoter, but in the four areas that actually count in judging, I can’t find one where GGG was the victor.
Tom Loeffler’s statement that he doesn’t know if Golvokin can win a decision in Las Vegas.
Perhaps Tom is just looking to make GGG feel better, but regardless this is maybe the most disappointing comment, because it comes from someone who knows the sport. Of course, GGG can win a decision in Vegas. But 22,000 people aren’t going to crowd into the T-Mobile to watch Golovkin fight and blast out the likes of Dominic Wade, Willie Monroe, Jr., or Vanes Martirosyan. He is going to need to fight a higher level of competition – and then fight better than that opponent – to earn a victory in the mecca of boxing.
Boxing is a wonderful sport that is coming back thanks to streaming technology and growing international interest. But it is a sport that also faces competition, not only from the outside in the form of other, more-widely watched leagues, but from inside where the fractured nature of boxing has made it tougher and tougher for the best to face the best.
Just look at celebrity row to see how special Saturday night was. There, another best-in-sport athlete, Lebron James, joined Will Smith, Mark Wahlberg and a huge group of other A-list celebrities to witness something special.
While everyone is entitled to his or her opinion (especially in boxing), let’s take a moment to appreciate what Canelo and GGG gave us on Saturday night and work towards doing it more often for the sake of the sport we all love so much.