When the final bell rang on the fight of the century, in which Floyd Mayweather handily defeated Manny Pacquiao in what was considered the biggest boxing match in 50 years, boxing’ stock plummeted to a new low in the eyes of most and reopened the ugly conversation that starts and ends with the question: “Is boxing dead?”
It is safe to say the tune has changed since May 2, 2015. In the last two weeks alone, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez manhandled James Kirkland in Houston, and this past Saturday, Gennady Golovkin continued his path of destruction by beating Will Monroe Jr. in Los Angeles.
The aftermath of Mayweather-Pacquiao provided boxing two things. Closure and Hope. In one night, boxing was gifted a special fight that was well-overdue, and despite the outcome, had to happen in order to move forward. With criticism plaguing the fight, the following two weeks provided the perfect scenario for two of the sport’s biggest, and, slightly unknown stars to display their talents.
Two weeks ago, on Saturday, May 9, 2015, at Minute Maid Park in Houston Texas, a boxing ring was dropped in the middle of a baseball diamond where 30,000 fans had the chance to see Canelo Alvarez take on dangerous brawler James Kirkland. Despite Kirkland’s career being derailed with bad decisions and several changes to this camp, Kirkland was considered a scary opponent for the streaking Mexican star.
Alvarez, who has been vocal about taking any fight in front of him, made his presence known dropping Kirkland twice before the fight ended in round three by a hard right from Alvarez that sent Kirkland to the canvas. The impressive win catapulted Alvarez back to the top of the division and made his name a hot ticket for the next mega-fight, which could include names like Cotto and Ward.
“This was one of the best knockouts of my career,” Alvarez said following the fight. “He came out with a little bit of a different style than I was expecting, but I was able to adjust and get the knockout. I knew he was strong fighter but he surprised me with his aggressiveness in the first and second round. I fight for the fans, and I’ll fight anyone, anywhere, anytime.”
Just one week later, on Saturday May 16, Gennady Golovkin had his time to shine as he faced 2014 Boxcino winner Willie Monroe Jr., a slick a southpaw who wasn’t given a favorable chance to beat Golovkin. After four years of walking through his opponents, Golovkin is primed to take on the next tier of superstar fighters, and like Alvarez, Golovkin has been more than willing to take on anyone, anytime.
The streak continued Saturday as Golovkin entered the ring to a rowdy Los Angeles crowd, beating Monroe Jr. by TKO in round 6. Monroe Jr. was able to recover from an early second round knockdown and even started to gain steam in rounds four and five before Golovkin turned up the action once again, dropping Monroe Jr. before the referee stopped the fight. Monroe Jr., said “I’m done” in the corner and Golovkin’s legend continued to grow.
The rarity of Golovkin in today’ boxing world is that he is willing to go toe-to-toe with his opponents and take some shots to make it a show. “I knew I did not lose control. This is my big present for you. Saturday night, this is not five minutes. I wanted to show my people. Just show them,” Golovkin said in the post-interview. “First of all, I showed him, No. 1, who is the real champ,” Golovkin said. “Second step, I give him a chance and stay here and say, ‘Come on bring it on, let’s do it.”
Alvarez’s response? Nothing official yet, but there was a tweet from Alvarez that included an emoji of a “thumbs up.” While a tweet is far from concrete, consider me a boxing romantic. Hope, remember?
The question now becomes who is next for each of these rising stars? For Alvarez, rumors of a bout with Miguel Cotto have been very public and all indications point in that direction. Golovkin’s management has went on record saying Golovkin will be fighting twice more this year, which would be in September and December.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has been setup for success. The young, good looking Mexican star, with a unique look as embraced his personality and clearly represents his Mexican fan base. Gennady Golovkin, who is wise beyond his years, and continues to make his mark on the American fans also adopted what he calls “Mexican Style” boxing. With both fighters winning, and doing so in spectacular nature, the new questions becomes – “when do they fight?”
September, which is a huge month for boxing, is a month where Alvarez has fought for the past three years. Golovkin is always ready for a fight and given the fact that both men fought within one week of each other, leads me to believe that the timing is perfect. Destiny seems to be knocking on the door. It is time for boxing to answer.
“Canelo? Not the future, right now I am ready for the big fights,” Golovkin said. “Miguel and Canelo. Right now. Not in the future. I am ready for the big fights right now. The next show.”
Golovkin continues, “Right now Canelo and Cotto, then Ward.”
For boxing fans, the plot thickens. For boxing fanatics, all indications point to a change in matchmaking that will be driven by the fighters themselves. Maybe this time around, the so-called “fight of the century” won’t take nearly a decade to make.