LOS ANGELES — In boxing, if a fight makes sense, there’s a good chance it won’t happen or at least won’t happen when everyone wants it to.
Common sense went the way of 15-round championship bouts years ago, and fight fans who have had to endure prolonged contract negations that often lead nowhere have simply accepted it as one of the many hitches of the sport they unconditionally love no matter how many times it has let them down.
That’s why so many fans following the ridiculously prolonged contract negotiations between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin already had an eye toward other potential fights featuring two of the best and most popular pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
The back-and-forth between both camps would have been laughable if it wasn’t depressingly predictable. One moment you had Oscar De La Hoya, representing Alvarez, declaring the fight dead and done, and the next you had Tom Loeffler, representing Golovkin, saying negotiations were still ongoing.
In the end, the Golovkin-Alvarez rematch we were supposed to get May 5 in Las Vegas will finally take place Sept. 15 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, one year after their first fight.
This was a fight both Alvarez and Golovkin needed despite the willingness of both camps to walk away from a megafight that will sell out T-Mobile Arena, attract over 1.3 million pay-per-view buys and generate revenue of about $110 million. Outside of a rematch between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, it is by far the biggest match that can be made in boxing and second place isn’t really that close. When you look at the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world, no one else on that list (Vasily Lomachenko, Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr. and Mikey Garcia) is a pay-per-view fighter yet.
If the fight fell through, Alvarez was willing to move on to a fight with Daniel Jacobs on Sept. 15, while Golovkin was looking at a fight against fellow middleweight world titleholder Billy Joe Saunders in late August. That Plan B would have been disastrous for both fighters financially and perceptually.
An Alvarez-Jacobs fight would probably do similar numbers to what Alvarez’s fight against Liam Smith did two years ago when everyone wanted Alvarez to face Golovkin. The fight had 300,000 pay-per-view buys and $20 million revenue. A Golovkin-Saunders fight doesn’t feel like a pay-per-view fight, but if they went that route it would probably attract the same number Golovkin got when he fought David Lemieux and Jacobs (150,000-170,000 pay-per-view buys). Beyond the financial hit, both fighters, especially Alvarez, would have had to deal with the perception that they didn’t want to face the best opponent possible. That they let a couple of percentage points get in the way of the fight that everyone wants to see.
There’s no doubt Alvarez is the A side and the main attraction of the fight. That’s why he’s taking in over 55 percent of the revenue. Alvarez received the lion’s share of a 70-30 revenue split for their first fight and was due to receive the bulk of a 65-35 split for the May 5 rematch. But when Alvarez failed two drug tests in February for the performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol and was suspended for six months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the rematch was canceled. That’s when Golovkin demanded a 50-50 split for a proposed rematch in September, which De La Hoya laughed at.
As great as Golvkin is, he is simply not a draw on his own. When the Alvarez rematch was canceled, he ended up fighting Vanes Martirosyan at an outdoor tennis stadium in Carson, California, that seats 8,000 on HBO. He made about $1 million instead of about $25 million had he had fought Alvarez.
Alvarez is the biggest current draw in boxing, but he still needs to face recognizable opponents to bring in the large paydays that come with attracting casual boxing fans who buy fights once or twice a year. Those fans weren’t going to pay for Alvarez-Jacobs, but they will throw watch parties for Alvarez-Golovkin.
This fight simply made too much sense not to happen, which means it would have been totally predictable if it didn’t happen. Thankfully for Alvarez, Golovkin and fight fans everywhere, common sense prevailed and everyone won in the process.