Canelo Alvarez and promoter Oscar De La Hoya signal willingness to pursue mega-bout against Gennady Golovkin
The public positions following Canelo Alvarez’s knockout of Amir Khan on Saturday night made it seem like there would be few impediments to striking a deal for Alvarez to fight Gennady Golovkin in a middleweight title-unification bout later this year.
Now, for the activity behind closed doors. . . .
Alvarez told reporters after crushing Khan with a sixth-round punch to the left side of the head that he’s willing to fight Golovkin at the middleweight limit of 160 pounds — which had been perceived as the major stumbling block to the bout.
Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, told The Times in text messages, “If they understand that it’s the max [160-pound] limit, everything else is negotiable.”
World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman, who has a signed mandate in place from promoters of both fighters, made it clear that if Alvarez’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, participates in anything perceived as stalling, Alvarez’s middleweight belt will be stripped and given to Golovkin, who already wears the World Boxing Assn. and International Boxing Federation belts.
Who would be paid what can always be contentious, but the key deal point is likely to be De La Hoya’s own internal battle: Does the former six-division champion dare to allow his eager, millions-earning fighter to take on dangerous Golovkin, who’s knocked out 22 consecutive opponents and won 16 consecutive middleweight title fights?
The process was initiated around noon Sunday, when Eric Gomez, president of De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, called Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, to inform him De La Hoya would soon call to arrange a meeting in person.
Canelo Alvarez, left, and Amir Khan trade punches inside during their WBC middleweight title fight Saturday.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Canelo Alvarez lands a jab to the face of Amir Khan during their WBC middleweight championship bout on Saturday in Las Vegas.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Amir Khan lands an overhand right against Canelo Alvarez during their WBC middleweight title fight at T-Mobile Arena.(John Locher / Associated Press)
Canelo Alvarez lands a right to the body of Amir Khan during their WBC middleweight title fight Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.(John Locher / Associated Press)
Canelo Alvarez tries to evade a punch by Amir Khan during their WBC middleweight championship fight on Saturday.(David Becker / Getty Images)
Canelo Alvarez lifts Amir Khan off his feet during a clinch in their WBC middleweight title fight at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday.(David Becker / Getty Images)
Amir Khan works to the body of Canelo Alvarez during their WBC middleweight title fight on Saturday night in Las Vegas.(John Locher / Associated Press)
Canelo Alvarez sends Amir Khan reeling with a knockout punch during their WBC middleweight title fight Saturday.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Amir Khan falls to the canvas after getting knocked out by Canelo Alvarez in the sixth round of their WBC middleweight title fight Saturday night in Las Vegas.(David Becker / Getty Images)
Amir Khan is counted out by the referee after getting knocked out by Canelo Alvarez in the sixth round of their WBC middleweight title fight Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.(John Locher / Associated Press)
Canelo Alvarez celebrates his knockout victory over Amir Khan with his team on Saturday night in Las Vegas.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Loeffler said Sunday evening, “Oscar called a little while ago, and we agree to discuss the next super-fight over the coming days.”
That’s where the important smaller details, egos and agendas will either be hammered out or emerge as deal breakers.
De La Hoya late Saturday told reporters he’ll feel empowered during negotiations by Alvarez’s overwhelming popularity edge over Golovkin.
Alvarez had six times more pay-per-view sales than Golovkin in the fall, and the 25-year-old affirmed his standing as the new face of boxing in the first main event at the new, 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena, which he christened with a signature punch that sent former 140-pound champion Khan to the hospital for precautionary reasons.
Khan, who could now return to the welterweight division and seek a shot at WBC champion Danny Garcia as the division’s No. 1 contender, tweeted from an ambulance he was “OK” after the “monster shot.”
“Obviously, Canelo is the superstar. There’s no doubt about who the man is in boxing,” De La Hoya said. “It’s like a game of poker. I have four aces and they probably have a pair of twos.”
And Alvarez did his part to fan the drama in front of HBO cameras when, after kneeling at Khan’s side and tending to his briefly unconscious rival, he spotted Golovkin at a ringside seat and ordered him to step inside the ring.
“I invited him because I wanted to prove to him I’m not afraid,” said Alvarez, who thrilled the crowd by saying he was willing to put his gloves back on to fight Golovkin that night. “If we’re going to fight, we’re going to fight for honor and pride. I’m willing to make him an offer — not just to fight him, but to beat him.”
Loeffler said Alvarez’s invoking Mexican pride while passionately defending his interest in fighting Golovkin was “very entertaining.”
And De La Hoya showed he grasps the public’s interest in a bout that promises to be a power show pitting punchers who’ve never been knocked down.
Before the bout, it seemed Golden Boy’s top interest was to let the fight “marinate,” with Alvarez perhaps taking two more fights this year against men like former champions David Lemieux and Miguel Cotto. De La Hoya rejected that theory after the triumph.
Golden Boy’s Gomez said the strides Alvarez showed in finishing a skilled, fast boxer like Khan — one judge had the Brit leading after five rounds — further encouraged the interest to pursue Golovkin.
“Canelo has become a complete fighter,” Gomez , a former full-time matchmaker, said Sunday. “Amir had us nervous those first five rounds. That sneaky right hand, he surprised Canelo with that speed.
“But Canelo’s transformation to a full fighter was seen in his counterpunching, his jab, the quickness. What he did was set Khan up perfectly. Canelo started off popping the jab and then going to the body. Amir was getting red on the body. Then, finally, Canelo switched it up. He went jab to the body, then went up top [for the knockout]. Crossing it up like that, that’s a higher-level, premier fighter. I was proud and happy with that.”
Said Alvarez: “Every fight gives me experience, not just this victory. I’m willing to do the fight, no problem.”
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