On a chilly night at L.A. Live, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin faced off and each fighter explained why he feels he won their September draw in Las Vegas.
They squared off Tuesday with steam spraying beside them for effect, the challenger’s red beard contrasting with the champion’s bright blue suit, and a swarm of bundled-up fans roared as mariachis played.
And that was it. The next time they’re scheduled to meet face to face will be fight week for their Cinco de Mayo rematch at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Despite a tradition of fighters barnstorming the country and selected international spots to hype their fights while igniting powerful word-of-mouth promotion, Mexico’s former two-division champion Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 knockouts) and the three-belt middleweight champion Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) are content to let modern media and their bodies of work spread the word.
“The people — you [reporters], the fans — know that this is going to be another great fight,” Alvarez said. “The first fight is known; that’s part of it. You’ve seen it. This one — this press conference to announce it — that’s enough.”
The first fight generated sales of $27 million, and the HBO pay-per-view had 1.3 million buys. That made it just the third bout to reach 900,000 buys since the record-selling but disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao bout of 2015. But after Mayweather’s August novelty match against UFC champion Conor McGregor had more than 4 million buys, there is room for improvement.
Mayweather has long understood the power of the people. To hype his breakout victory over Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, they made 11 stops on their press tour, with Mayweather continually producing new gimmicks — like a caged chicken — to keep the message fresh.
When he fought Alvarez in 2013, Mayweather remained after a Chicago appearance and signed autographs for two hours. That bout generated more than 2 million buys. His four-city stop with McGregor last year featured electric stops at Staples Center and Toronto.
Golovkin went through promotional stops in London, New York, ESPN headquarters and Los Angeles with Alvarez before their first bout, and since the rematch is less than six months removed, he said there’s sufficient excitement building for Part 2.
“It’s logic that all boxing fans and everyone knows … everybody was waiting for the second fight — When? When? When? OK, Cinco de Mayo,” Golovkin said. “Everybody is ready. We’ve [put] in a lot of time; we had great emotions in that first fight. Now, everyone’s ready for the second.”
De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter, recalled his 26-city, 12-day press tour to tout his first fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., shown then at closed-circuit locales.
“It was exhausting, exciting, fun and I met a lot of people — a lot of work,” De La Hoya said. “Now you can reach all those people on social media with one post. These guys have millions of followers. Back then, we didn’t have that platform, and even though we hit 26 cities, we didn’t scratch the surface compared to the promotional tools available to us today.”
It also helps, De La Hoya said, that this bout won’t be preceded three weeks before by “the circus” of Mayweather-McGregor.
“This fight needs no hyping, no promoting whatsoever … it’s going to be a great fight no matter what,” De La Hoya said. “Both guys are going to come out swinging, wanting to go for the knockout. They don’t want to leave anything for the judges.”
Golovkin remains scornful of the 10-rounds-to-two, 118-110 scorecard of judge Adalaide Byrd after judge Dave Moretti saw Golovkin winning 115-113. Judge Don Trella had it 114-114, but was the lone judge to give the seventh round to Alvarez.
Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler said he will strongly voice his preference for certain judges to the Nevada Athletic Commission before the official selection in April.
Alvarez didn’t have much patience for the position of Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez that his fighter will need better running shoes to keep up with the backtracking of the challenger.
“I did what I had to do. I out-boxed [Golovkin], I made him miss, I controlled the center of the ring,” Alvarez said. “I’m a technical fighter who knows how to counter-punch, [not] just a jackass coming forward throwing punches. All [Sanchez] is saying is stupid, idiotic things.”
Alvarez earlier made peace with World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman after a prior conflict led him to state he’d refuse the WBC belt if he defeated Golovkin.
Alvarez trainer Eddy Reynoso said he expects his fighter to keep his training base in San Diego, although they considered the high altitude of Colorado — “the mornings are so cold now,” Reynoso said — and are entertaining doing some work in Big Bear.
That’s where Golovkin trains, so they may cross paths before May. Just not in the public eye.