With the result of his bout no longer in doubt, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez could afford to anticipate the next opponent in the popular Mexican fighter’s career.
Moreover, little did fight fans realize that Alvarez already had his opponent lined up even while he overwhelmed countryman Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. late Saturday in Las Vegas. Moments following Alvarez’s lopsided decision victory over Chavez, Gennady Golovkin walked into the ring at T-Mobile Arena after it was announced the reigning middleweight champion will face Alvarez Sept. 16.
For Alvarez, Chavez became the final steppingstone to the bout fight fans have demanded for close to two years. Alvarez is the sport’s top pay-per-view attraction, and many consider Golovkin, the reigning middleweight champion, boxing’s best-pound-for-pound fighter.
“In every one of my challenges I want to prove that I am the best active fighter and that I want to make history,” Alvarez said of facing Golovkin. “I am very happy that this fight is made — the fight they said never was going to be made.”
Never miss a local story.
Golovkin, who has yet to reach the pay-per-view plateau established by Alvarez, finally will have the opponent that should lift the native of Kazakhstan’s crossover acceptance. Despite a 6 1/2 year run as middleweight champion and 23-fight knockout winning streak that ended with a decision victory over Daniel Jacobs on March 18, Golovkin still has not matched Alvarez’s appeal.
“For us the fight is now possible September 16, everybody is excited,” Golovkin said. “I’m very happy. It’s the biggest fight in boxing”
A match between Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) and Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) will elevate boxing to must-watch status — lacking on the U.S. sports landscape since Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fought two years ago. European fight fans enjoyed such an event when heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua defeated former champion Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in England on April 29.
“Boxing was on a hiatus,” said Oscar De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Alvarez. “With these fights that you saw tonight, that you’re going to see in September, what you saw in Anthony Joshua, boxing is back bigger and better than ever.”
Alvarez said he didn’t overlook Chavez even with the agreement to fight Golovkin reached before Saturday’s fight.
“You think I lost my focus?” Alvarez responded to a question about possibly ignoring Chavez. “I consider myself a person who is mentally strong. I know how to separate one thing from another. First I had to win this fight.”
And Alvarez left no doubt. From the opening round, Alvarez outclassed Chavez with combinations to the head and body. Alvarez was sharp with left jabs, straight rights, left hooks and uppercuts.
Chavez (50-2-1) failed to press the action, unwilling to increase his punch output throughout the 12-round distance.
All three judges scored the super-middleweight bout 120-108.
“He beat me with his distance and speed,” Chavez said. “Canelo was very active and is a great fighter. I couldn’t throw more punches.”
AROUND THE RING
▪ Title contention now seems over for Miami resident and Cuba native Yuriorkis Gamboa. Gamboa failed to answer the bell for the eighth round of his lightweight bout against journeyman Robinson Castellanos on Friday in Las Vegas.
Once considered one of the top fighters in the lighter weight classes, Gamboa far from resembled his early career accomplishments against Castellanos. Castellanos (24-12, 14 KOs) knocked down Gamboa in the third and fourth rounds with rights to the head.
In the closing seconds of the seventh, Castellanos punished Gamboa (26-2) with combinations to the body. During the minute’s rest before the eighth round, Gamboa told his trainer and father, Carlos Gamboa, that he was finished, resulting in a TKO victory for Castellanos.