LAS VEGAS (AP) — Minutes after turning what was touted as a big fight into a glorified sparring session, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez invited his next opponent into the ring.
About 90 minutes later, Alvarez had already changed into a suit and tie to pose for the first staredown with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.
At long last, Alvarez is ready to give boxing fans what they want. The two will square off on Sept. 16, Mexican Independence Day.
“I’m very happy that this fight is finally here,” Alvarez said through an interpreter, “the one that a lot of you said would never be made.”
Alvarez, who had been fighting at light middleweight, had been accused of ducking the heavier Golovkin for a year. But after pummeling countryman Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on Saturday night, Mexico’s top fighter is eager for the long overdue megafight to determine the middleweight champion.
“For us, this is the biggest fight in boxing,” Golovkin said.
The Kazakhstan native owns the IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight titles. Alvarez had to relinquish his WBC belt to Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) last year when he declined a mandatory challenge.
“I’ve always stated that Triple G will happen in 2017,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter. “Everybody was saying, ‘Why are you afraid of Triple G? Why is this not going to happen?’ I told everybody it’s going to happen in September, and we’re extremely proud and happy that this fight is going to take place.”
Still to be determined is the venue, and De La Hoya insisted it could be “anywhere in the world.” One possibility is AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which would allow for a crowd upward of 100,000. The Dallas Cowboys play on the road that weekend, making it an option.
“Those negotiations, those talks will start in the weeks to come,” De La Hoya said.
Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) had never fought above 155 pounds until he weighed in at 164 on Friday. He had no trouble adjusting, appearing to toy with Chavez. The 26-year-old occasionally would lean back into the ropes and take punches from Chavez, only to quickly regain control with uppercuts and jabs.
According to CompuBox, Alvarez landed 83 jabs to Chavez’s 15. All three judges scored it 120-108, giving Alvarez all 12 rounds.
Immediately after Michael Buffer announced the results, Alvarez told the crowd that Golovkin was next. The lights then dimmed, and the 35-year-old Golovkin walked out of a tunnel and into the ring. They later showed a promotional video for the fight.
It was a WWE-style display that showed how little concern the Alvarez camp had for Chavez. The deal with Golovkin was signed a week earlier but successfully kept under wraps.
“It couldn’t be a bigger announcement in the sport of boxing,” said Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter. “It wasn’t easy making the fight, but it was even harder not announcing the fight.”
Alvarez’s dominance leaves him confident about facing bigger boxers. Golovkin weighed in at 159.6 pounds before winning a unanimous decision over Daniel Jacobs in March for his 18th title defense.
The September bout will be at the middleweight limit of 160 pounds. Alvarez believes the two styles will make for an entertaining fight, and Golovkin was impressed by his next opponent as he watched ringside Saturday night at a sold-out T-Mobile Arena.
“Canelo looked very good,” Golovkin said, “and 100 percent he is the biggest challenge of my career.”