To the partial winner went the spoils.
Canelo Alvarez was intent to keep his May 5 rematch against unbeaten three-belt middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in Las Vegas, and as the final figures were crunched by his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, and Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, “it was close enough that it didn’t have to be a big argument,” Loeffler said.
Golden Boy, the lead promoter boasting the sport’s most marketable fighter, announced Thursday that T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas beat out famed Madison Square Garden in New York. The storied arena, known as the “Mecca of Boxing,” presented a bid for the rematch in excess of the package that brought the first Alvarez-Golovkin meeting to T-Mobile Arena in September.
That bout was scored a draw, and if Mexico’s Alvarez wasn’t already comfortable in Las Vegas after fighting there 10 times, the highly criticized 118-110 (10 rounds to two) scorecard he received from Nevada judge Adalaide Byrd in September is reason enough to take up residence at the arena as Celine Dion and Elton John have done up the Strip at Caesars Palace.
In Alvarez’s only defeat, a 2013 majority-decision loss to unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr., he also received the benefit of a highly dubious 114-114 scorecard from since-retired judge C.J. Ross even though Mayweather easily outclassed Alvarez.
“Canelo likes Las Vegas and it’s hard to beat Las Vegas with everything they offer, especially on a Cinco de Mayo weekend,” Loeffler said. “I thought it could’ve gone either way, really, but Golden Boy’s the lead promoter and we went along with the decision.
“Canelo definitely likes being by the West Coast. He’ll have a lot more Mexican fans in Las Vegas. … You can argue he’s gotten a favorable scorecard against Mayweather and Triple-G [Golovkin] there, and he’s never fought in New York. He didn’t want to go to uncharted territory, where Triple-G has fought six times.”
While fighting in New York would saddle the fighters with a 9.8% state income tax on their guaranteed purse money, staging the HBO pay-per-view bout in Las Vegas requires an 8% gate tax that cuts into profit from what Loeffler said should exceed the $27 million live gate the first bout generated.
One of the factors that further tipped to Las Vegas’ favor was the ability to sell $100 closed-circuit tickets at MGM properties along the Strip. More than 12,000 closed-circuit tickets were purchased for the first fight, and Loeffler said every indication is demand will increase after the competitiveness of that bout, when Alvarez shined in the final three rounds after faring well early.
“I am happy to return for the fourth time at T-Mobile Arena for this historic rematch against Golovkin," said Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs), a former two-division champion, in a statement released by Golden Boy. “I opened the doors of this place to the world of boxing,” by knocking out Amir Khan in May 2016, “and it has become my favorite venue. This is where the fight started, and this is where I'll end it by doing what I and my fans most desire: knocking him out.”
Tickets inside the arena, priced from $700 to $10,000, go on sale at 10 a.m. Pacific time Tuesday, with the fighters set to appear at L.A. Live later that evening for a public event.
Seeking to join Alvarez co-promoter Bernard Hopkins as the only middleweight in history to win 20 consecutive title fights in the division, Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 knockouts) was quick to address his major negotiating point between now and the bout: judge selection.
“It feels right that the rematch returns to the scene of the crime,” Golovkin said in his prepared statement. “This time, there will be no drama with a decision. I won the first fight and left the ring as world champion wearing all the belts. And I am going to win the second fight. It is going to be a record fight and a golden night for me and boxing.”
Nevada Athletic Commission executive officer Bob Bennett has said Byrd will not be assigned to the rematch.
In an interview with The Times later Thursday, Loeffler said, “It’s safe to say there will be different judges this time around. … We’ve accepted Nevada, and now we look forward to working with the commission to select the best officials possible for this caliber of a fight.
“More attention by us to that process this time will make for a more level playing field.”
Of course, Loeffler would prefer Golovkin, who’ll turn 36 on April 8, revert to the form that produced 23 consecutive knockouts between January 2009 and September 2016.
“That’s the easiest way to take it out of the judges’ hands,” Loeffler said, explaining that while training under Abel Sanchez in Big Bear, Golovkin will “expect a more defensive, elusive fighter, and I’m sure Abel will make those adjustments.”