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Monday, September 26, 2022

Despite the recent loss, Canelo Alvarez continues to show boxing greatness

In an era where fighters duck the best, Alvarez continues to dare and be great

By MARLON ROLON — sports@theaggie.org

Every generation has one or two prize fighters who are the face of boxing. Between 2003 to 2017, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquaio carried the sport. They dominated opposing fighters, collecting championship belts in multiple weight classes.

For years fans wanted to see arguably two of the best fighters of all time go head to head. Unfortunately, boxing promoters were in the way of letting that come to fruition. However in 2015, Mayweather and Pacquaio finally stepped into the ring — six years too late. Pacquaio was on the decline due to his come forward fighting style that takes years of a fighters career.

The fight sold 4.6 million pay-per-views, a record that has not been broken since. This was at a time when Maywether, who is considered “The Best Ever,” was selling one million PPV’s no matter who he fought and so was Pacquaio. No matter the opponent, these two fighters sold out the arena and had the boxing world buzzing. They attracted casuals, fans, and people who didn’t watch boxing but tuned in because they were can’t miss attractions.

However, in 2017 Mayweather retired from boxing and in 2021 Pacquaio, who was a shell of himself retired way past his prime — a common theme in the sport. It seemed like boxing followed these two fighters into retirement. 

That is until Saul “Canelo” Alvarez arrived. Alvarez started to gain popularity in 2010 when he was 19 years old fighting veteran champions. At 23, he fought Mayweather. Although Canelo lost to Mayweather, his stock rose as more eyes outside of boxing started to recognize his fighting style. 

Capturing a world title at just 20 years old, Canelo was considered the one to carry the sport. After his first professional loss to Mayweather, Alvarez did just that, beating 16 world champions to go along his 57-2-2 record. 

Canelo undeniably is the face of boxing, selling out arenas wherever and whoever he fights. In 2021, Canelo beat Billy Joe Saunders at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX — the home of the Dallas Cowboys. He set an indoor boxing attendance record of 73,126 fans filling the arena. Primarily, the prize fighter tends to fight in Las Vegas where he sells out the T-Mobile Arena every time he fights. 

However, Canelo’s PPV numbers are not what Mayweather was accustomed to. In fact, his biggest PPV sold was against Mayweather himself — the fight generated 2.2 million PPV buys. His second biggest PPV fight was against Gennady Golovkin at 2 million buys. His average is between 8,000,000 to one million sales in PPV which is not bad considering the lack of star power that’s missing in the sport. 

Since boxing sales through PPV’s are not what they used to be, companies like DAZN have offered contracts to fighters like Canelo to fight under their streaming services which is available to audiences who subscribe to the streaming service for an affordable monthly fee of $19.99. In Canelo’s case, DAZN offered him a lucrative 365 million dollar contract for 11 fights within five-years. This ensures to generate substianal revenue for both parties involved.

Besides Canelo, there is no one else that can sell close to his PPV numbers. Boxing has been on the decline for a few years now. This has to do with promoters and the addition of so many championship belts in every weight class. 

Promoters dislike each other in the world of boxing. For example, Golden Boy Promotions run by Oscar De La Hoya, has been feuding with rival promoter Top Rank owned by Bob Arum. Mayweather Promotions is also feuding with Top Rank. De La Hoya and Mayweather used to fight under the Top Rank banner but due to allegations against Top Rank taking the majority of the purse percentages, they don’t want to do business with Bob Arum. 

It’s not just with Top Rank though, other promotion companies don’t want to do business with other promoters and that’s how it is in boxing. Promoters create their own stable of boxers and fight their fighters with other fighters within the same stable in order to maximize the profits associated with sales. This is done so that promoters don’t have to split a certain percentage of revenue with other promoters. However, there are times when a fighter from a particular promotion company has to or requests to fight other fighters from opposing companies. For example, if a fighter holds a title belt and wants to unify a belt which a fighter may have from an opposing promotion company, then they have to fight each other. 

Another relevant issue that is holding boxing back is the addition of so many championship belts. There are four sanctioning world titles, the World Boxing Association (WBA), the World Boxing Council (WBC), the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and the World Boxing Organization (WBO). 

These sanctioning bodies hold multiple title belts under the same organization. For example, the WBA holds the “regular” and the “super” champions. If a fighter wins the regular belt then they hold the WBA belt. If that fighter wins a belt from the opposing major sanctioning body then they become the “super” champion of that organization. This then leads to the regular belt being vacant for other fighters to fight for it.

  This can be said about the WBC, they have the “Diamond,” “Eternal Championship” and the “Silver” belt. Every major sanctioning body also has the “Interim” champion. The reason for this is because if a fighter can’t defend his belt due to medical issues then two other fighters fight for the belt. When the true champion is back from his injuries he still holds the championship belt. This means there are multiple champions in each division. It is a very complex order that can make it clear why some people would rather not keep up with boxing that closely. There are a lot of moving parts.

With promoters keeping their fighters from fighting the best fighters out there, boxing has hit a wall. Fighters now avoid the best challenges out there to avoid a loss in their record. In today’s boxing, promoters along with fighters protect their boxing record by fighting the easiest possible opponent. If they can maximize PPV sales with minimal risk to their record then they’ll do it. 

With the addition of more championship belts, fans are sold on a “championship fight” with low risk and high reward. The more a promoter can keep his fighter with an undefeated record, the better it sells. This leaves the promoters making more money, the fighter significantly more profits and holds a belt while leaving the fans unsatisfied. 

In an interview conducted by Showtime, Mayweather sounded off on his displeasure with the sport of boxing having too many champions. With so many champions in each weight division, the fans are left wondering who the real champion is within the division. The addition of multiple champions defeats the purpose of the meaning of “champion” which in turn is suffocating the sport. 

“There’s too many champions in the sport of boxing right now. It’s no such thing as a super champion, not at all,” Mayweather said.

Due to the involvement of politics amongst promoters and too many belts in each weight class fans are left with unknown fighters being champions and predictable match-ups. This is why boxing is on the decline in terms of popularity and PPV sales. 

However, Canelo Alvarez is changing the dynamics of boxing and setting the tone in terms of the best fighting the best. Canelo has won titles in four different weight classes. Starting at Jr. middleweight (154 pounds), then he conquered the middleweight division (160 pounds), super middleweight (168 pounds) and light heavyweight (175 pounds). Boxing has never seen anything like this, a fighter moving up in weight after every fight and capturing world titles against established champions within those divisions. 

Canelo has already cemented his legacy into the conversation of the best ever. Yet, he is still seeking to challenge himself in every fight. He wants to continue to make history, something he has stated in post fight interviews after every fight.

“It’s important for me and Eddy [trainer] because very few people have achieved becoming undisputed champions,” Canelo said. “And that’s a short-term goal for us. To win all the titles at 168 pounds.”

On Nov. 6, Canelo accomplished his goal. He beat all the champions at 168 pounds and unified the belts to become the first undisputed champion of Mexican origin.

Canelo aimed to unify all the belts at 175 pounds, already claiming one belt at light heavyweight, Canelo bit off more than he can chew. He suffered his second defeat of his illustrious career against Dmitry Bivol. Canelo himself looked shocked, however instead of losing stock it seemed as if the boxing world praised him for taking on such a challenge. 

Fighters like Canelo aren’t around anymore, he is an old school mentality with swift boxing abilities. That is the reason why when Canelo fights fans tune in to watch the legendary fighter. 

“I’ll fight anybody, I don’t care,” Canelo said in an interview conducted by multiple reporters during fight week.

Fighters like Canelo are what fans want to see. They want someone who isn’t afraid to lose, someone who has the courage to seek the best challenges out there, someone who is willing to maximize their potential, someone who wants to make history, someone who wants to be the greatest fighter of all-time, someone who dares to be great.

“I think it’s important, not just for me, but for all fighters,” Canelo said in an interview with RingTv. “To make history in boxing is very important, I think. It’s very important to me to leave behind a legacy in this sport. And that’s why we’re doing this. To keep making history and so when people talk about boxing, they always remember me.”

Canelo’s mantra is “Dare to be great.” If fighters in boxing can live by this, then the sport can potentially rise back to its glory days, where boxing should be. With so much young talent on the rise at the moment, they have an opportunity to revive the sport.

Written by: Marlon Rolon — sports@theaggie.org

 

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