What Canelo Alvarez's knockout win over Amir Khan means for boxing

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist

LAS VEGAS – Ever the showman, Canelo Alvarez raced to the ropes only seconds after knocking out Amir Khan with a perfectly placed right hand and asked Gennady Golovkin to enter the ring.

It was a positive sign that perhaps the most exciting big-money fight that could be made in boxing may come to fruition.

Alvarez retained the WBC middleweight title with the devastating knockout, which came at 2:37 of the sixth round before 16,540 rabid Alvarez fans at the new $375 million T-Mobile Arena.

Golovkin, who holds the IBF, WBA and interim WBC belts, is an undefeated knockout artist who is drawing huge ratings on HBO and a massive cult following. But he has been frustrated by his inability to coax one of boxing’s big names into the ring.

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman allowed the Alvarez-Khan fight to proceed with the stipulation that the winner must fight Golovkin next.

Alvarez seemed to indicate that he’s ready to make the mega-bout. Promoter Oscar De La Hoya called T-Mobile Arena Alvarez’s new home, but invited Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to the fight. He said AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, was in the running to host the bout.

After celebrating his knockout briefly with members of his team, Alvarez ran to the ropes and shouted to Golovkin.

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (R) connects with a right against Amir Khan. (AFP)
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (R) connects with a right against Amir Khan. (AFP)

“I invited him into the ring,” Alvarez said. “Like we say in Mexico, ‘We don't [expletive] around.’ I don't fear anyone. We don't come to play in this sport [and] I fear no one in this sport.”

When he got to the post-fight news conference, De La Hoya dramatically began shouting, as if Golovkin were still in the nearly deserted arena.

“Golovkin, make sure you answer your phone tomorrow morning,” De La Hoya said. “We will call you. We will call whoever deals for you.”

But sources told Yahoo Sports that even if De La Hoya makes those calls to Team Golovkin, there is momentum to make a rematch with Miguel Cotto.

Golden Boy promotes Alvarez and Roc Nation Sports promotes Cotto. Alvarez won the WBC belt from Cotto in November with an impressive unanimous decision.

Sources told Yahoo Sports that Golden Boy and Roc Nation came to terms on a grievance they had with each other that arose following the November fight.

Cotto had a 55-45 revenue split edge per contract in the fight, because he came in as the champion. But several days before the fight, Cotto dumped the belt because he was in a dispute with the sanctioning body over the amount he had to pay in fees.

So Alvarez, who paid the fees that night, could win it and Cotto could not. Afterward, when it came to splitting the revenues, Golden Boy wanted to change the 55-45 split in favor of Cotto since he was technically no longer the champion when the fight happened.

After they settled their dispute, Golden Boy and music mogul Jay-Z’s Roc Nation have made progress toward a rematch.

De La Hoya, though, insisted he was only focusing on Alvarez.

“I’m not thinking of anyone else but Triple-G,” De La Hoya said.

With the retirement of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, Alvarez has become boxing’s biggest star. Fans have pleaded for a fight with Golovkin for more than a year, but De La Hoya opted first to go with Khan.

Khan, who was fighting for the first time above welterweight, gave Alvarez a battle for most of the six rounds.

Alvarez was up on two of the three scores, leading 49-46 on Glenn Trowbridge’s card and 48-47 on Glenn Feldman’s at the time of the stoppage. Adalaide Byrd had Khan up 48-47, the same score as Yahoo Sports.

But Khan boxed beautifully for much of the night, using angles and controlling the distance to frustrate Alvarez. Alvarez was swinging and missing quite a bit in the early going, though it was clear his size and power were going to be major factors.

“If he didn’t adjust and change his game plan, [Khan] would have frustrated him the whole 12 rounds,” De La Hoya said.

Khan cracked Alvarez with a straight right that landed squarely on the chin and it had no impact on Alvarez. He just kept moving forward.

The reason the announcement of the fight with Khan wasn’t met with joy was obvious when Alvarez landed his first square right hand. The punch landed and Khan was looking at the lights in an ending eerily similar to the 2009 bout between Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton did.

Alvarez has gotten to the point in his career where he is bigger than the belt, so he’ll be able to dictate terms to Golovkin in things such as the purse split, the weight limit and the venue.

Loeffler’s strategy is to collect as many belts as he can while awaiting one of the sport’s big names, like Alvarez, to agree to face Golovkin. So if an Alvarez-Golovkin deal doesn’t get done, Loeffler will push the WBC to live up to his promise and strip Alvarez of the belt and give it to Golovkin.

“If we get all the belts, eventually if they want to fight for a title, they’re going to have to come to us sooner or later,” Loeffler said earlier Saturday.

Golovkin has been surprisingly patient as he’s sought one of the sport’s big names. He said he wasn’t worried so much about winning as getting into a battle of heart with Alvarez.

“I don’t care about the scorecards,” he told Yahoo Sports with a dismissive wave of his hands. “Let’s fight. Let’s go and see who forces who to back up. I want it to be a battle of wills and see what happens.”

Based on the way Alvarez looked much of the night against Khan, who was fighting for the first time at 155 pounds, it would be a long night against Golovkin.

It’s long past time for the fight to happen, though. Golovkin wants it. Alvarez wants it. And clearly, the fans want it.

It’s time for De La Hoya to do the right thing and make the biggest bout that can be made in the sport.