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De La Hoya: I made Canelo-GGG to help the sport

By Dan Ambrose: Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya says he made the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin fight because he cares about the boxing fans and he wanted to help the sport. De La Hoya maintains that he could have made 4 smaller fights for Canelo without risk, but he wanted to give the fans what they’ve been asking for.

Some boxing fans believe otherwise. They think that De La Hoya decided to make the Canelo-Golovkin right now because of Golovkin not looking exceptional in his last two fights against Kell Brook and Danny Jacobs. They see De La Hoya as worried that if he didn’t make the Canelo vs. Golovkin fight right now, he might lose the fight altogether if Golovkin were to suffer a defeat. Golovkin and his promoters at K2 Promotions wouldn’t take a bunch of easy fights like the ones Canelo has been mostly doing lately with him facing Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Liam Smith, Amir Khan and James Kirkland in his last 4 fights.

Assuming that Golovkin had taken those same fights consecutively, he’d be looking invincible right now. Golovkin has faced 2 good fighters in Brook and Jacobs. People make a big deal about Brook being a welterweight, but he’s a guy that drains down from the 170s to fight at 147. Brook is basically a junior middleweight that fights at welterweight.

“I made this Canelo fight with Golovkin for the sport, for the fans,” said De La Hoya to ESPN.com. ”Yes, there’s a lot of money in this fight but I could have made four smaller fights with Canelo that are not as risky as the Golovkin fight. But I was a fighter myself. I understand what the fans want and therefore I made it happen.”

De La Hoya’s reasoning for making the Canelo-Golovkin fight could be seen as self-serving, because it’s a fight that he believes will make a lot of money and likely will. It’s also one that De La Hoya has confidence that the 26-year-old Canelo can win at this point in his career. But I think another reason that De La Hoya is making the fight for Canelo is because he’s failed to become a crossover star the way that he, Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. all did. How do you become a crossover star?

Here are the ways for a fighter like Canelo to become a crossover star:

– Learn to speak English. You can argue that it helps if you speak English, which Canelo has been slow in learning. When the fighters can speak directly to the U.S fans in English without an interpreter, I believe that helps them connect with the foreign fighters. Golovkin has picked up the language much faster than Canelo despite getting a later start.

– Fight the best opposition possible as frequently as possible. That means Canelo needs to stop fighting mismatches against guys that are made to order for him, and instead fight the likes of Golovkin, Jermall Charlo, Daniel Jacobs, Billy Joe Saunders, Demetrius Andrade, Jermell Charlo, Erislandy Lara, Callum Smith, George Groves, James DeGale, Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev. I mixed in some junior middleweights, super middleweights and light heavyweights, because I believe that Canelo will need to be open to fighting guys from different divisions if he wants to become a true superstar. If all Canelo is going to do is fight the only highly talented middleweights [Golovkin, Jermall Charlo and Daniel Jacobs], then he’ll quickly run though those three fighters and then have no one else to fight other obscure contenders. Golovkin isn’t going to become a crossover star unless he fights a lot of the best fighters from the 154, 160 and 168 pound divisions. Canelo is popular enough to try and get Kovalev and Ward to fight him at super middleweight.

– Smile more, joke, and be approachable. Canelo often doesn’t show much emotion. He tends to do a lot of glaring, and he’s often stone-faced. It would help if Canelo would loosen up a little bit. Maybe have some jokes to tell the fans. Be prepared each time he meets with the media by having jokes memorized. It’s hard working becoming a crossover star, but it’s possible. Look at Conor McGregor. He seems to have his whole act staged when he’s at the press conferences. He brings comedy with him, and II think that’s helped make him a bigger star in the U.S faster than the other fighters. There are other fighters in the UFC that have had the same kind of success that McGregor has in the octagon. The reason why they weren’t as popular is because McGregor is like an actor, fighter and comedian all rolled up in one. Canelo needs to realize he’s in show business. He’s not just a fighter.

“Boxing was in a hiatus, and now boxing is back, bigger and better than ever,” said De La Hoya. ”You have your ups and downs in any sport, all of them. Boxing has had its ups and downs. It’s a roller coaster. Right now, we’re living a great moment for boxing, and we will for a long time.”

It can be a great time for boxing, but De La Hoya needs to make sure that he only matches Canelo against good fighters, not fighters that have been inactive like Chavez Jr. Anyone that knows boxing could tell you that the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight had mismatch written all over it the moment it was signed. Chavez Jr. was a guy with a weight and motivation problem.

Chavez Jr’s career has been essentially over with for 5 years now. He rarely fights now, and he can’t make weight for the super middleweight division on a consistent basis. If De La Hoya wants to REALLY help boxing, he’ll put Canelo in with Golovkin 2 or 3 times in a row to help bring more excitement to the sport. After that, De La Hoya needs to match Canelo against the true best. I’m not talking about more fights between Canelo and Amir Khan, Kirkland, Alfredo Angulo, Chavez Jr. or Liam Smith. Canelo needs to be put in with fighters that have a chance to best him.

I don’t know if De La Hoya will do that though, because he stopped matching Canelo against good fighters in their prime after his questionable win over Erislandy Lara in 2014. It’s been all record-padding fights for Canelo ever since. The boxing world would have really enjoyed seeing Canelo fight Golovkin in 2015 instead of having to wait until 2017.

The boxing fans would have liked to see Caneo fight Lara a second time, and then face Andrade, both Charlo brothers, and then Jacobs and Golovkin. De La Hoya hasn’t done any of that. Does he not care about boxing like he says he does? It’s one thing for De La Hoya to talk about him giving the fans what they want, and a completely different thing for them go out and actually do it.

The casual boxing fans wanted to see Canelo and Chavez Jr. face each other, and De La Hoya gave them want they wanted. You can’t blame De La Hoya for doing that. However, he could have still made the fight fair by not having a catch-weight of 164.5 pounds for the fight. De La Hoya obviously knew that Chavez Jr. had proven that he can’t make 168 and never really could without being drained. Why then did De La Hoya insist on a catch-weight for the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight?

If De La Hoya is going to make fights that the boxing fans absolutely want to see, he’s got to be fair about it and not try and get a big advantage for Canelo when he clearly doesn’t need it. I’m hoping that if things don’t work out well for Canelo in the Golovkin fight on September 16, that we don’t see De La Hoya bringing Canelo back to fighting at catch-weights against over-matched opposition like we’ve mostly been seeing during Canelo’s career.

Canelo’s resume is padded with largely weak opposition. He hasn’t fought a lot of good fighters despite him saying he’s fought the best. Canelo has fought 1 fighter that can be viewed as the best and that was Floyd Mayweather Jr. The only other 2 good fighters Canelo fought in their primes were Lara and Austin Trout. Miguel Cotto was not in his prime when he fought Caneo. If Canelo wanted to make the Cotto fight fair, he should have opted for a rehydration clause to keep from going above 164 pounds. If Canelo had weighed the same as Cotto, we would have seen a fair fight in my opinion.

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