A large crowd gathered at L.A. Live in Los Angeles on Monday in front of Staples Center to watch Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin go through separate workouts designed to promote their Sept. 16 middleweight title bout.
Oscar De La Hoya, the boxing Hall of Famer now to be known as “Oscar the Grouch,” is rightly proud of the matchup that could turn out to be the best fight this year.
Alvarez-Golovkin has a lot of work to do if it is to become the 2017 Fight of the Year, because Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko put in one of the most memorable heavyweight battles in years in their April 29 title bout in London.
That stands as the runaway leader in the Fight of the Year race and another bout will need an Usain Bolt-like finish to surpass it. It is, though, something entirely possible from Alvarez and Golovkin, a pair of highly skilled, highly motivated fighters with a fan-pleasing style.
Oscar the Grouch did a radio tour on Monday, and of course he was quizzed at length about his now-infamous tweet in which he appallingly wrote “F— You,” a day before the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The tweet, of course, made its sender look small, petty and classless. This is a guy who has been used to being treated with kid gloves throughout his life and who has gotten every benefit of the doubt despite numerous transgressions of his own.
Remember that Oscar the Grouch is the same guy who said he felt that Mayweather-McGregor was disrespecting boxing after he forced fans to pay top dollar to watch Alvarez against a no-hoper like Liam Smith and then went out and touted it as if it would be a barnburner. It turned out to be the one-sided Alvarez beat-down that everyone predicted it would be.
It was the same thing four months earlier, when he tried to pitch Amir Khan as a credible challenge to Alvarez.
The thing that De La Hoya misses is that the presence of the Mayweather-McGregor fight three weeks in front of his did much to help remind the public that Alvarez-Golovkin would be a far more significant, far more entertaining bout.
Few fights in the modern era received the wall-to-wall media coverage that Mayweather-McGregor did. Mayweather and McGregor are the two biggest names in their sport and they were able to provide a summer’s worth of fodder for the world’s boxing media.
In so many of those reports, though, the journalists noted the presence of the Alvarez-Golovkin fight three weeks later and filled a void that Alvarez and Golovkin weren’t able (or willing) to fill themselves by talking about it.
Both Alvarez and Golovkin closed their training camps to media at the end of July, a staggering seven weeks before their Sept. 16 bout. It’s exactly the wrong way to promote a pay-per-view card that has a chance to hit 1.5 million sales.
Selling pay-per-views is tricky, but it’s largely about name recognition and awareness. Closing camp so early limits the amount and, more significantly, the quality of coverage the fight will receive.
The attention paid to Mayweather-McGregor actually helped Alvarez-Golovkin, because it kept it in the news, and in a positive way. And while this is just anecdotal and is impossible to quantify, it seems that many of the fans who watched Mayweather-McGregor were happy with the bout.
There were pay-per-view ordering problems and streaming issues that arose, and fans who experienced those issues are displeased. But the consensus seems to be that most fans who watched were happy with what they saw.
Many of the millions who bought the pay-per-view were new and hadn’t been boxing fans before (and at least certainly not pay-per-view purchasers). But their experience may turn a few of them into fans of what on paper seems to be the far better fight.
But De La Hoya’s tweet just heaped attention onto the very thing he was trying to keep attention from, and made him look classless in the process.
You want to make a good pay-per-view showing these days, it’s simple: Take a star like Alvarez, put him into a good fight, make him accessible to the fans and media throughout the build-up, put on an undercard fans can’t wait to see and be single-minded and do nothing but focus on your fight on your date.
Anything else is a waste and diverts attention from what you’re trying to sell. If you own a Burger King, you don’t point to the line at the McDonald’s across the street.
It’s terrific for all involved in boxing if Alvarez-Golovkin is a great match, helps create new fans, brings lost ones back into the fold and if it sells 2 million on pay-per-view.
But all Oscar the Grouch did was agitate two very loud and prominent men who have very passionate followings: Mayweather and UFC president Dana White. Don’t be shocked if either or both of them drops a bomb on or before Sept. 16 to take attention away from Golovkin-Alvarez.
If they do, it will unquestionably be because of one classless, ill-advised and pointless tweet.
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