LOS ANGELES (AP) — Oscar De La Hoya had no desire to watch Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s victory over Conor McGregor last weekend. Neither did middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, who smirked at the idea of taking the time away from his family.
“I just thought it was a fraud, and I still think it’s a fraud,” De La Hoya said Monday.
But now that Mayweather’s farewell victory over the UFC champion went off without a major embarrassment for boxing, De La Hoya and fellow promoter Tom Loeffler hope their upcoming megafight between Saul Alvarez and Golovkin will be carried to new heights by a surge of interest created by the spectacle of the summer.
If you liked Floyd and Conor, they think you’re going to love Canelo and Triple G.
Golovkin meets Alvarez on Sept. 16 in the same Las Vegas arena where Mayweather stopped McGregor in the 10th round last Saturday. The result was no surprise to De La Hoya, who promotes Alvarez, or to Loeffler, who guides Golovkin’s career.
“We were all pretty convinced that Floyd would win,” Loeffler said. “We were just hoping that it wouldn’t be a disaster where people were going to say, ‘We’re never going to buy another pay-per-view.’”
Loeffler and De La Hoya are both grateful that most casual sports fans seemed to enjoy Mayweather’s 10th-round stoppage victory: The unusual fight appeared to be competitive, and it largely entertained people who don’t watch every big fight.
And if those casual fans now want to see the best that boxing has to offer, De La Hoya and Loeffler are selling Mexico’s biggest star against an unbeaten Kazakh knockout artist for four middleweight title belts.
“I’m glad that so many people bought the fight so they can see what boxing is all about, and what boxing is all about is September 16th with Canelo and Triple G,” De La Hoya said.
De La Hoya sent out a furious, profane tweet to his 1.8 million followers one day before the bout, declaring that Mayweather and McGregor were “disrespecting the sport of boxing.” De La Hoya didn’t back down from that opinion during public workouts in downtown Los Angeles for Alvarez and Golovkin, who attracted well over 1,000 fans standing in 90-degree downtown Los Angeles heat for four hours.
“Only Mayweather knows, why it lasted 10 rounds,” said De La Hoya, who lost a close fight to Mayweather in 2007. “Obviously, Mayweather is not the biggest puncher in the game. If there was a Canelo in there, obviously it would last one round.”
Golovkin said he might watch the replay of Mayweather-McGregor this week, but didn’t seem terribly interested. Alvarez, who took his only career defeat against Mayweather in 2013, said he ordered the pay-per-view, but “to see a show, not a fight. I knew what I was getting.”
“We weren’t negative on that event,” Loeffler added. “We just made it clear that this is the real boxing match, and that was a spectacle. It was the most popular MMA fighter against the most popular boxer. ... You shouldn’t sell it as a real, competitive fight. But we were happy that it wasn’t a disaster to where people would be down on buying this fight.”
Although Loeffler praises McGregor’s showmanship and MMA skills, he likened the matchup to Muhammad Ali’s infamous 1976 fight with Japanese pro wrestler Antonio Inoki.
“It was really more of an exhibition,” Loeffler said. “It wasn’t really a boxing match.”
But don’t mistake Loeffler for an Oscar-style hater. He thinks the long-term benefits of that short-term curiosity outweigh the drawbacks.
“The more boxing exposure we can get for the sport in general, the more fights that can be made,” Loeffler said. “It brought (boxing) to the mainstream. It got a lot of attention that many other events never have a chance of getting. But I really think (Alvarez-Golovkin) is the highlight of boxing for this year.”