In his backstage exhalation, Canelo Alvarez spread his arms wide on a couch, surrounded by championship belts on each side, content that the boxing world is his.
“That’s the wonderful thing about being the man,” said someone who would know, Alvarez’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya.
Alvarez’s unanimous-decision victory over Daniel Jacobs in Saturday night’s middleweight unification bout at T-Mobile Arena both bolsters his case as the boxing’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter and provides him a wealth of leverage in negotiations for his next fight.
Yes, Alvarez’s fiercest rival, Gennady Golovkin, was there to watch and almost desperately press his case for a third fight, hours after announcing his new union with Wladimir Klitschko’s former trainer Johnathon Banks.
But Golovkin, who’s already felt the financial sting of losing a September decision to Alvarez — his recent multi-fight deal with streaming service DAZN is worth less than one-third of what Alvarez signed for — will need to fall in line for Alvarez, no matter what he does to massive underdog Steve Rolls on June 8 at Madison Square Garden.
Alvarez (52-1-2) didn’t even mention Golovkin’s name at his post-fight news conference, and while trainer Eddy Reynoso said he’s expecting his fighter to return to T-Mobile Arena on Mexican Independence Day weekend in September, Reynoso said “no” when asked if the foe will be the now belt-less Golovkin.
“My objective,” Alvarez emphasized, “is to fight for a title.”
Alvarez has four of them, after capturing Jacobs’ International Boxing Federation belt. And he has the flexibility to let Golovkin squirm.
Golovkin tried to reconnect with his prior position of superiority, sending a post-fight tweet with a photo of him wearing sunglasses while sitting among the Cinco de Mayo crowd of 20,203.
“I saw no emotions, nothing special today,” Golovkin wrote of Alvarez’s victory by scores of 115-113, 115-113, 116-112. “It was a nice sparring match. Boring. They should have given more to the fans.”
It came across as petty.
Not only did Alvarez display strides in his defense and head movement to impress Jacobs, Reynoso and longtime watchers, but he also confronted a champion who outweighed him, likely by at least 15 pounds, and found the stamina to stem Jacobs’ middle-rounds rally that coincided with a switch to a left-handed stance.
“Everything in general I was happy with,” Alvarez said after sweeping the first five rounds on two scorecards. “We knew we’d adapt. Landing combinations [was also a strength]. I’m very happy I added another title, and we’ll continue adding to our history.”
The question is against who?
Alvarez noted that the man with the last remaining middleweight belt, World Boxing Organization champion Demetrius Andrade, has a June 29 title defense against Maciej Sulecki on DAZN, and how “that might be too close” to arrange a mid-September unification.
“Canelo has expressed interest in fighting in the U.K. and he wants to fight in Mexico. Canelo has many options. There’s nobody he doesn’t want to face,” De La Hoya said. “Canelo’s wishes are to unify the [middleweight] belts. Golovkin and Andrade are right here [in the arena] knocking on Canelo’s door. We’ll sit down, so we can all think it through and make the right decision.”
De La Hoya’s business partner, Golden Boy Promotions President Eric Gomez, echoed, “It’s a great position. Canelo is the king right now. The sky’s the limit. He wants all the top fights. If it’s Golovkin, we’ll sit down and talk about that.”
Golovkin’s best advocate for the third consecutive September meeting will be DAZN, which paid Alvarez $365 million for a 10-fight deal and has its foot down on a drive for new subscribers, hoping to reach 1 million by Golovkin’s June 8 bout.
His first two fights with Alvarez combined to generate 2.4 million pay-per-view buys on HBO, and with DAZN charging $19.99 for one month, or $99 for an annual pass — far less than the pay-per-view model — major events like Alvarez-Golovkin III are a must to attract more subscribers.
“If fans want to see Canelo-GGG III, then that’s the fight we want to make,” said Joseph Markowski, DAZN’s executive vice president of its North American operations. “Gennady has to do his part in June and then we’ll convene all parties to speak about September.”
Meanwhile, Jacobs (35-3) intends to move to super-middleweight after failing to meet a contractually stipulated post-weigh-in limit of 170 pounds — 10 over the middleweight threshold.
“Just rehydrating with water, I shot up to 170, and I definitely needed to eat beyond that,” Jacobs said of weighing 173.6 pounds Saturday morning and forfeiting a $1-million penalty to Alvarez. “I might take my talents to super-middleweight. I’m extremely happy I was able to perform at the highest level. I still think I can have a career that can be thriving.”
Countering Golovkin’s criticism of the bout, Jacobs said while “it was hard to get a rhythm early,” he displayed in the middle rounds the heart and courage that allowed him to overcome a life-threatening and paralyzing cancerous tumor near the spine in 2011.
In the end, Jacobs said he was left with appreciation for the new three-belt champion from Mexico.
“He’s a strong force, he was there to fight. He has great upper body movement, and his timing was really strong on when to punch and when to back off,” Jacobs said. “I went to battle with a perfect opponent.”