The real fight is finally here

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

THE freak show of a fight is over, and for that ev­ery­one in box­ing should be glad. That Conor McGregor man­aged to make it into the 10th round against a re­tired 40-yearold who can’t knock real box­ers out isn’t much to cel­e­brate, un­less you’re McGregor’s ac­coun­tant.

Yes, McGregor and Floyd May­weather Jr. cap­tured the na­tion’s at­ten­tion with a spec­ta­cle that played out pretty much how most box­ing ex­perts pre­dicted. It made for a grand time in liv­ing rooms across the coun­try, pro­vid­ing some en­ter­tain­ment in tense times for about 50 mil­lion peo­ple.

Now comes the real fight — and what a fight it will be.

Canelo Al­varez against Gen­nady Golovkin is as good as it gets in the Sweet Sci­ence, a sport that is in the midst of a re­nais­sance of sorts. They meet Satur­day night in a mid­dleweight ti­tle clash as highly an­tic­i­pated by box­ing purists as was McGregor’s chal­lenge of May­weather to UFC fans.

Two fighters who both rank high on any­one’s pound-for-pound list. One loss be­tween them, with Golovkin’s three mid­dleweight belts on the line.

And un­like May­weather, they knock peo­ple out.

“It is not a fight,” Golovkin said. “It is a war.”

What­ever you call it, it shapes up as the most an­tic­i­pated fight of the year in box­ing. It’s not too much of a stretch to say it might be the best mid­dleweight clash since Mar­velous Marvin Ha­gler and Tommy Hearns en­gaged in their three-round clas­sic more than 30 years ago.

Styles re­ally do make fights, and these are two fighters with ex­plo­sive styles.

“We’re both going to fight a fight where any­body can win by knock­out,” Al­varez said. “We both have the power to win by knock­out. But that’s what makes for a great fight.”

That the fight comes only three weeks af­ter McGregor and May­weather per­suaded more than 4 mil­lion house­holds to buy their pay-per-view is not fault of the fighters or their pro­mot­ers. The fight was an­nounced in May, be­fore May­weather-McGregor was fi­nalised.

Os­car De La Hoya, who pro­motes Al­varez, made no se­cret of his dis­dain for the May­weather-McGregor fight, send­ing out an ob­scene tweet just be­fore the event, claim­ing both were dis­re­spect­ing box­ing.

But view­ers seemed gen­er­ally sat­is­fied with the money they spent on May­weather-McGregor, and box­ing fans will open their wal­lets for this bout. It won’t sell as much as the most re­cent fight, but it still fig­ures to do huge pay-per-view numbers, par­tic­u­larly among Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can fans of Al­varez. It should be money well spent. “I’m going to do my part to make it mem­o­rable so I can go down in his­tory as one of the best fighters,” Al­varez said.

Al­varez is al­ready a su­per­star in his na­tive Mex­ico, the most cel­e­brated boxer in a box­ing-mad coun­try. He does beer com­mer­cials with Sylvester Stal­lone and has been a steady payper-view draw, with his 2013 loss to May­weather check­ing in as the fourth most watched pay-per-view of all time.

Now the charis­matic red­head is a full-fledged mid­dleweight, af­ter wait­ing nearly two years to agree to meet Golovkin while he moved up from 154 pounds. He’ll need to bring the power that has got­ten him 34 knock­outs against Golovkin, a for­mer am­a­teur star from Kaza­khstan now liv­ing in Los An­ge­les who has knocked out 33 op­po­nents in win­ning all 37 of his pro fights.

The fight is a rar­ity in box­ing, two stars in their prime meet­ing in a fight that will likely de­fine both their ca­reers. It’s a huge risk for both, but the re­wards should be good, too, with purses north of $10 mil­lion.

Golovkin is mak­ing his 19th ti­tle de­fense, one off the record of 20 in the mid­dleweight divi­sion set by Bernard Hop­kins. He has done it fight­ing ev­ery­where but in the box­ing cap­i­tal of the world, where he will make his de­but against Al­varez at Las Ve­gas’ new T-Mo­bile Arena.

The fight is a show­case of all that’s good about box­ing, a sport that is en­joy­ing a good run in re­cent months. It’s the best against the best in their prime in a fight fans have been clam­or­ing to see.

And there will be no ex­cuses no mat­ter which way it goes. – AP

Photo: AP

In this file photo taken ear­lier this year, Canelo Al­varez, left, and Gen­nady Golovkin pose in Las Ve­gas.

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