In the same ring where Canelo Alvarez spent 12 rounds showing he's ready to fight the unbeaten Gennady Golovkin, he then extended a symbolic final handshake on a deal to fight the middleweight champion from Kazakhstan, an announcement that stunned the audience Saturday night.
"I said it once and I'll say it again: The era of Canelo is now," Alvarez told the Los Angeles Times while emerging from his dressing room. "What that means is I'm willing to fight the best, give the fans the best fights always. And that's what I'm doing."
Saturday's domination of countryman Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at T-Mobile Arena in a highly anticipated catch-weight bout didn't live up to the definition of a great fight as Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 knockouts) landed more punches — 228-71 — than his bigger opponent and kept him at distance with an 83-15 margin in jabs.
The three judges awarded Alvarez all 12 rounds with each scorecard marked 120-108.
"This chapter is over," Alvarez said. "I had to improvise. I had an opponent that had a lot more weight than me, but I proved I'm versatile. I can do many things, not just knock people out."
The one-sided outcome generated jeers among the 20,510 spectators during the final rounds, not to mention disappointment among the expected strong pay-per-view audience. It was two years removed from the disappointment of Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s lopsided victory over Manny Pacquiao.
This time, however, a post-fight surprise along the lines of a WWE-staged event was looming.
In the days before Alvarez-Chavez Jr., Alvarez promoter Oscar De La Hoya and Golovkin handler Tom Loeffler, signed a deal for the fighters to meet in a Sept. 16 bout at a venue to be determined, with AT&T Stadium outside Dallas and T-Mobile Arena considered the front-runners.
Alvarez disappointed boxing fans last year by surrendering his World Boxing Council middleweight belt to three-belt champion Golovkin rather than fight him.
On Saturday, still in the ring after beating Chavez Jr., Alvarez was asked who he wanted to fight next. "GGG, you are next, my friend...," he said. "I've never feared anyone. When I was born, fear was gone. … The rivalry is going to show my skills even more."
Golovkin strode toward the ring, the same one he'd appeared in a year earlier after being jilted by Alvarez.
A video presentation of Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) was shown on big screens, and the fighter said, "In September, it will be a different style.
"Canelo looked very good tonight, and 100% he is the biggest challenge of my career."
De La Hoya said he expects Alvarez-Golovkin to be the best-selling pay-per-view since Mayweather-Pacquiao.
"The difference is, this fight is going to have a lot of action, nonstop action," said De La Hoya, who's calling the bout "Bombs Away."
"Boxing has had its share of ups and downs," he added. "Right now, we are living in a great moment for the sport."
Golovkin, who has previously expressed strong doubt that Alvarez would fight him, said, "Everybody is excited. I'm very happy. This is the biggest fight in boxing."