Boxing’s most highly anticipated showdown between Canelo Álvarez and Gennady Golovkin might have just hit its first two of potentially many roadblocks. First is a proposed 90-10 purse split weighted in extreme favor of the WBC champ Álvarez. News of the proposal first hit when Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya spoke to ESPN Deportes about the matter.
“If I had my way, if the fight occurs tomorrow, negotiations would be 90 percent for Canelo and 10 percent for Golovkin,” De La Hoya said. “So obviously these negotiations would be complicated, but in time we will sit down and put together this fight. It’s a fight that everyone wants to see.”
The justification behind the numbers is that Álvarez would be generating most of the viewers, and with Floyd Mayweather Jr. now retired, the Mexican may in fact be the biggest draw in the sport of boxing. Looking at some of his more recent PPV numbers—2.2 million (vs. Mayweather), 400,000 (vs. Alfredo Angulo), and 900,000 (vs. Miguel Cotto)—there is perhaps some credence to that claim. Add in the fact that Golovkin’s first and only PPV against David Lemieux brought in a paltry 100,000 buys on HBO, and it’s no surprise that Álvarez would take a bigger piece of the pie.
But a 90-10 split? That sort of math might make sense if a relative nobody was being featured as a stepping stone to one of the sport’s rising stars, but Golovkin is quickly becoming a household name. A multitude of media outlets have dubbed him boxing’s “most feared fighter”, and he is easily the toughest challenge for Álvarez in the middleweight division. Proposing a 90-10 split in this circumstance is either insulting or an underhanded way to avoid the fight.
The other issue at hand is the weight. Álvarez went on record a number of times saying that the Kazakh superstar would have to agree to a 155-lb catch-weight in order meet in the ring. Most of this was said before winning the lineal middleweight championship from Miguel Cotto where such talk might have been acceptable. After winning the title, however, it seems a bit ridiculous and diva-like. In another interview with ESPN Deportes, trainer Eddy Reynoso confirmed that the stance on weight still stands.
“We’re not going to move now from 155 pounds. We are quite comfortable at that weight and it suits us. We are not inventing a new division. It’s just part of business and everyone seeks what suits them. Who wants to fight with Saul, come down or go up,” Reynoso said.
I might have given a pass on that if it wasn’t for two things. First is that Álvarez regularly rehydrates well beyond the middleweight limit, coming in at 175-lbs for his junior middleweight fight against Austin Trout in 2013, and speculated around 180lbs for the Cotto fight—making him a bonafide cruiserweight, and three weight classes above the contested division. Add to the fact that against Angulo (his last fight at junior middleweight), Álvarez was fined for being unable to make the 154lb limit, so it appears as though he’s too small for one class, yet too big for the one directly below it. When looking at it this way, he is in fact inventing a new division.
The second is that Álvarez is the lineal champion of the middleweight division. Since Cotto is self-admittedly a “small” middleweight, there was somewhat of a pass given when the two faced off against one another for that lineal claim. But there is also a certain conduct expected of the lineal champion of any division. The first is to fight the best opposition in the division, which in the case of the middleweight division, undeniably is Gennady Golovkin. Second is to allow that opposition to come in at the best possible shape to ensure the winner rightly earned their victory. And finally, in what would seem like a no-brainer in this scenario, is to allow opposition to weigh-in at the limit that is stipulated by the rules of the boxing, not creep one pound over the division below to technically qualify the match as a legitimate middleweight contest, which is exactly what Álvarez is doing.
When Floyd Mayweather Jr. retired, I had hoped that we’d seen the last of days where boxing was negotiated on the terms of celebrity instead of skill, on making one fighter bigger than the sport, but it appears as though Canelo Álvarez is keeping that tradition alive and well. If that truly is the case and team Álvarez sticks to these demands, it’d be much better for the sport if he vacated the belt, and left the championship fighting to the legitimate middleweights of boxing.
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