-- Once again, boxing fans are being played for fools. It happens all the time, and we're suckers for putting up with it.
But we also know what we want and too often we are forced to put up with a bunch of junk before we get the fight we want. Rarely do we get the fight we want when we want it.
WIll Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin fight this year? - ESPN Boxing (@ESPNBoxing) May 18, 2016
Six years ago the masses wanted Floyd Mayweather against Manny Pacquiao. They and their handlers made us wait. And wait. And wait. Every step was an agonizing process. Trust me, I know. I covered every minute of it.
When they finally did meet after negotiations that were absolutely ridiculous to watch unfold, everything about it stunk out loud: the promotion, the greed -- $100 for the pay-per-view and they even had the audacity to charge fans to attend the weigh-in, even if that money supposedly went to charity! And, of course, the fight.
The fan abuse ultimately paid off because the fight generated some $600 million. The fighters and their teams made wild amounts of money for the stink bomb of a fight. But the fans got nothing for their years of waiting and nothing for their money in terms of the entertainment value. Instead of a glorious night for the sport, we got a business transaction in which we were pawns.
A year later that money grab still haunts boxing. That fight hurt the sport because on a night that put it front and center around the world, setting every possible money record with the largest pay-per-view audience in history (roughly doubling the previous record), millions of casual sports fans who tuned in hoping to see a legendary fight flipped off their TVs in disgust.
The chance to create another generation of fans was gone in the span of 12 desultory rounds. Those folks are probably not inclined to watch boxing again and certainly unlikely to buy another overpriced pay-per-view fight. I can't blame them.
It is to that backdrop of derision that we have another situation playing out between lineal middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez and three-belt unified titleholder Gennady Golovkin.
A fight between them is the biggest in boxing -- if they would just make it.
But after Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya made the decision on Wednesday to have Alvarez vacate his alphabet belt -- which then was handed to mandatory challenger Golovkin, who had been the interim titleholder of that sanctioning body -- it looks as though we are in for another agonizing wait to see the fight we want.
It sure doesn't look as if we will get it when we want it, which was really earlier this month. But Alvarez and De La Hoya pushed for an interim bout to the mandatory with Golovkin. They signed an agreement under which they would each have one more fight and then the mandatory would be enforced. If Alvarez did not fight GGG next, he would have to give up the title or be stripped. That was not unreasonable.
So GGG crushed Dominic Wade on April 23, and two weeks later Alvarez blasted Amir Khan. So time to make the big one, right? Nah.
Alvarez and De La Hoya talked tough after the May 7 Khan fight, proclaiming they'd make GGG an offer. De La Hoya made it a point to tell the media he would be calling Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions the next morning, and Alvarez even said for the first time that he would face Golovkin at the middleweight limit of 160 pounds rather than demand a Canelo weight of 155, where he has been fighting his recent bouts.
Of course, while pay-per-views are expensive, talk is cheap. De La Hoya had a few conversations with Loeffler about making the fight, but it comes as no surprise that they didn't get very far. Alvarez and De La Hoya claimed they vacated, per the agreement, because they did not want to be held hostage by a Tuesday deadline for a purse bid. They called it an artificial deadline, so Alvarez vacated a title belt he worked very hard for and gave the appearance that he is ducking Golovkin, an unbecoming label for the fighter who is supposed to be the face of boxing.
He and De La Hoya insist they will continue negotiating the fight, but the writing is on the wall. The right thing rarely happens in boxing, so it would be a stunner if they actually made a deal for September, as was supposed to be the plan.
Instead, Alvarez and De La Hoya will milk it, let it marinate and hope they continue to work the public into a lather for the fight, which will translate to a bigger pie when it happens.
And it should eventually happen, but like everything in boxing, it won't be when we want it. We will be served lesser fights with excuses made along the way.
I think Alvarez really does want to fight GGG. Just look at the fighters he has faced, some against the better judgment of his handlers: Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara.
I just don't think De La Hoya wants this fight right now. Alvarez is his company's cash cow and an underdog against the monstrous punching Golovkin, who we all know is ready, willing and able to make the fight immediately.
While De La Hoya the fighter fought everyone -- why he was such a megastar in his day -- De La Hoya the promoter is showing a different side.
He has preached for the past few years that Golden Boy was all about making the best fights. "The best against the best," he has said over and over.
Apparently, except when it matters, which is right now with Canelo-GGG.
For a huge fight, it should be relatively easy to make. The promoters are friendly with each other and worked well together on the Golovkin-David Lemieux fight last fall. There are no network conflicts because both fighters are under contract to HBO. Alvarez took the weight issue off the table with his declaration that he would fight at 160. And the Golovkin camp has never said anything other than that Alvarez is the A-side and he deserves the lion's share of the money. Sure, they'll have to determine the exact split, but knowing GGG and his team they will not blow the fight over a few points of the pot.
But once again the fight does not appear as though it will happen next, so once again the public suffers. Once again boxing breaks our hearts because nobody can seem to do the right thing.
It will come as no surprise when the continuation of talks for the fight crater and De La Hoya breathlessly announces that Canelo will fight Lemieux on Sept. 17. Not a terrible fight but not what we want. You, the fan, have the power to just say no, however. Teach them all a lesson. Teach them that you are not to be disrespected and played for a fool yet again.
Demand the fight that you want and stick to it. Hurt them in the pocketbook, which to a fighter and promoter is much worse than hurting them with a left hook.
Alvarez and De La Hoya are not bad people. I like them. I respect them. But I am upset with them. I want them to do the right thing. I want them to understand how important this fight is to fans and to the sport, and I want them to make it right now instead of making what appear to be empty promises. I want them to be the anti-Mayweather-Pacquiao.
Sure, they have the misfortune of being the next superfight after the muddled debacle of Mayweather-Pacquiao, so the fans' nerves are frayed and the pressure on them is even more enormous than normal to get this deal done now. After that disaster, which De La Hoya has mocked repeatedly and promised to help boxing overcome, he and Alvarez owe us one.
Is it too much to ask them to lift boxing? To do the right thing for a change on behalf of a sport in need? To be heroes? To give the people what they want?