By Rich Mancuso
Oscar de la Hoya knows boxing and there is little doubt to dispute his knowledge as a Hall of Famer and for years considered the best-pound-for-pound fighter with 10 world titles in six weight classes.
So the record speaks volumes and his knowledge carries as a successful promoter with his company, CEO and founder of Golden Boy Promotions. He will once again showcase Canelo Alvarez and WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith that will be broadcast on HBO Pay-Per-View from AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas on Sept. 17.
Alvarez is a huge draw in boxing and de la Hoya picked the proper venue for him. Home of the NFL Dallas Cowboys and in Texas make a perfect fit for de la Hoya and his company to further showcase his champion.
Boxing, in need of mega fights, won’t get one this time, but waiting in the wings is the showdown with Gennady Golovkin and Alvarez, though de la Hoya is honest about waiting for his superstar to be ready at the weight of 160.
Despite all the controversy as to why Alvarez is not ready for this anticipated mega fight, de la Hoya does the talking for his Mexican superstar. And there is every reason to believe that two of the top ten fighters in the world will exchange blows at some point next year.
“The bottom line is Canelo is a 154-pound fighter,” de la Hoya said. “The fact that he fought at 155, people expect him to go up and fight at middleweight and that’s not the case. He’s a 154-pounder and he’s going to go up to 160.”
De la Hoya is aware that boxing is everything when matching up an opponent. There is no ducking the issue that fans and this superstar turned promoter wants what is best for the sport, but de la Hoya is no longer the fighter and the game has changed with catch weights and the different divisions that make this sport the business it is.
In other words when the time is right, boxing will get the fight.
“He is the star fighter,” de la Hoya says about Alvarez who is exclusive to Golden Boy. “And people want him to fight the very best. And he has always fought the very best. And fighting a Golovkin is going to be no exception. He’s going to fight him but when he’s ready to move up to 160.”
Which leads to the next question about this upcoming fight with Smith that is expected to draw over 40,000 or more in a stadium that will be dominated with fans of Alvarez. The state of Texas has also been a hot spot for Alvarez with fights that had over 45,000 fans in San Antonio and another 31,000 in Houston.
Alvarez prevailed in both fights. His power and knockout punch led to victories over Austin Trout and James Kirkland.
De la Hoya knows something about fighting before large crowds. For years, he was under the promotional banner of Top Rank and when he parted there was a division with Bob Arum the promoter that helped to put his legendary career on the map.
The two are working together again and share fighters on different boxing cards. There was also an anti-trust lawsuit that Arum and de la Hoya filed against the Al Heyman Premiere Boxing Champions management group with claims that they violated the Muhammad Ali Boxing Act in monopolizing the sport.
Arum has since settled out of court and is planning to do some business with the PBC, while de la Hoya continues to pursue his cause. But for now, it is all about Canelo Alvarez and the continuation of his champion making as much money as possible with emphasis of putting his name in the annals of boxing lore.
“This is a tough fight with Smith,” he says. “It’s not a walk-over fight. It’s a tough fight and first things first, we’ve got to get past him and we’ll deal with future fights. But as of right now everything is geared to fighting against Liam Smith and being successful.”
Ticket sales, according to de la Hoya are in demand. And it is very possible the popularity of Alvarez could put an excess of 50,000 in the stadium on fight night. For boxing, and no matter who is in the ring a crowd of that magnitude can only help the sport that is trying to develop a new superstar with the retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Canelo Alvarez, according to his promoter has that capability and may have reached that point with popularity. The lone exception is gearing the remainder of fans that go beyond Mexican heritage.
In boxing, heritage of a fighter is a great marketing tool and Canelo Alvarez had no problem reaching to other fans based on previous pay-per-view figures and comments seen with numerous social media platforms.
In the end though, it comes down to de la Hoya getting that mega fight for his champion. Boxing needs that, and de la Hoya is always speaking about how important it is to give fans the proper fights.
He says, Alvarez has succeeded in becoming that new face with the retirement of Mayweather, and with Pacquiao fighting at least one more time against Jessie Vargas from Las Vegas on pay-per-view in Las Vegas on November 5th.
“The passing of the torch has already taken place,” stated de la Hoya. “Canelo is the face of boxing now. He’s proven it with ticket sales, with pay-per-view views and he’s going to prove it once again by outselling Manny Pacquiao, so I believe this is just the beginning for Canelo.”
But the true test and face of boxing may still be determined. Golovkin is a knockout artist and that is the fight fans anticipate.
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images