PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A fight is taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas this Saturday night. It’s a fight that should have taken place at least a year ago, so the timing isn’t exactly perfect, considering the looming shadow another major fight that happened three weeks before still casts. Gennady Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will meet for what will essentially be the middleweight championship.
They are two deserving fighters, in or near the prime of their careers. They have one loss between them—and that came against Floyd Mayweather four years ago. This matchup has a chance to be a modern-day Hagler-Hearns tumult, the kind of brawl that produces blood on the sand of the Roman Coliseum. Not the puppet show outside.
And nobody cares.
Sure, boxing people care, that small, fiercely loyal group that keep the sport afloat. Other than that, this fight sorely pales in the crossover, mainstream appeal that the August 26th Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight drew.
Golovkin and Alvarez simply don’t carry the same kind of commercial weight Mayweather and McGregor do. It’s the mainstream consumer that networks and boxing promotional companies crave. Even the hardcore fight fan might take a pass on this one, if there isn’t ample disposal income left after Mayweather-McGregor.
In the build-up for Mayweather-McGregor, a mom-and-pop gambling shop in Vegas, which might get maybe a million in business over a year, received $5 million in bets for Mayweather-McGregor, while Golovkin-Alvarez hovered around $38,000 in action. Calling around to various sports bars in Philadelphia to see if they’re showing the Golovkin-Alvarez fight, some said yes, others had no idea it was taking place.
“We couldn’t fit enough people in here for the Mayweather fight,” one local sports bar manager said. “We took hundreds of calls for it, too. You’re about the second call we’ve received for this. Is this actually going to be a good fight?”
What hurt the marketability of this great fight is it should have taken place sooner and stood alone, so it wouldn’t have had to dig out from under the crazed Mayweather-McGregor hype. Another big factor is that the fight should have taken place at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. It was a perfect fit, and Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones was supposedly very interested in holding the fight there, while his football team is away this Sunday in Denver.
An outdoor stadium, filled with roughly 50,000 to 60,000 fans, would have given a big-time event feel to the fight, instead of the tepid response the fight is receiving, especially on the East Coast.
Mayweather-McGregor went up against nothing. Major league baseball was in its dog days. The NFL was in its drab preseason mode. College football wasn’t throwing up defending national champion Clemson against reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville on a national TV broadcast, like GGG-Alvarez will be going up against Saturday night, nor Texas and USC—two major programs with gigantic fanbases. The guess here is that both of those games will exceed the pay-per-view buys that Golovkin-Alvarez will generate.
All anyone could talk about on August 27th was Mayweather-McGregor. On Sunday after the fight, Golovkin-Alvarez will be buried under college football results and NFL Week 2 preview shows.
A fight is taking place in Vegas this Saturday night. For those not watching Clemson-Louisville or Texas-USC, they may be interested. It should be a great fight. A modern-day Hagler-Hearns.
When a manager at a popular center-city sports bar was asked if they’re showing the fight, he replied “Who again?”
Maybe there is a lesson to be learned here—strike when the fight is hot. After Canelo beat Miguel Cotto in November 2015, and GGG stopped David Lemieux in eight a month earlier, a February 2016 GGG-Alvarez fight would have been an ideal prime spot. The NBA and NHL seasons weren’t hitting a serious stage for another two months, the NCAA basketball tournament was a month away and college football and the NFL would have wrapped up their seasons.
Golovkin-Alvarez promises fireworks.
And not many will care enough to see it.