Canelo Alvarez Faces Liam Smith While Boxing Fans Dream Of GGG Showdown
By Kurt Badenhausen
More than 60,000 fans are expected Saturday night at Jerry Jones’ Dallas shrine, better known as AT&TT -0.35% Stadium, according to fight promoter Oscar De La Hoya. They are coming to see De La Hoya’s golden ticket, Canelo Alvarez, square off against little known Brit Liam Smith, who holds the WBO junior middleweight title. “This is a major fight because of Canelo’s star power,” says De La Hoya.
Alvarez is certainly one of the biggest stars in the sport, but this is not the fight boxing fans were promised four months ago. Immediately after Alvarez knocked out Amir Khan in May, he challenged Gennady Golovkin, who was ringside, to a bout.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 07: Canelo Alvarez walks to the ring during the WBC middleweight title fight at T-Mobile Arena on May 7, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
“Like I said in Mexico, ‘We don’t f— around.’ We don’t come to play in this sport. I fear no one in this sport. I’ll fight him right now,” said Alvarez ringside through a translator . “Let’s put the gloves on and get in there with him.” De La Hoya doubled down in the post-fight press conference. “Golovkin, make sure you answer your phone tomorrow morning,” said De La Hoya. “We will call you. Make sure you answer your phone tomorrow.”
But the promised Canelo-GGG bout never got close. “People have to realize Canelo is a 154-pounder. His body is not ready to fill into that division (160 pounds),” De La Hoya told Forbes this week. A curious assertion since Alvarez typically weighs in over 170 pounds on fight night after re-hydrating post-weigh-in, according to experts. De La Hoya says the public won’t endure a years-long process to make a Canelo-GGG fight happen like we saw with Floyd Mayweather andManny Pacquiao. “If everything goes well, we’re anticipating that the fight (Canelo-GGG) takes place in Sept. 2017,” he says.
Smith enters the Alvarez fight as a massive 12-1 underdog. The huge crowd expected at AT&T Stadium is a chance to see Alvarez and not necessarily a competitive fight. It is Mexican Independence Day weekend, which is always a popular fight date, and Alvarez is a massive star in his native Mexico.
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De La Hoya invited Jerry Jones to the May Khan-Alvarez fight at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and the following day the pair discussed staging an Alvarez fight at AT&T Stadium. “Jerry Jones is all about big and extravagant. He wanted the biggest fighter on the planet and that is Canelo Alvarez,” says De La Hoya.
De La Hoya says the crowd Saturday night will “blow away” past attendance figures for fights at AT&T Stadium. Pacquiao fought twice at the home of the Dallas Cowboys. His 2010 bout against Joshua Clottey had a crowd of 50,994, while a fight later in the year against Antonio Margarito drew 41,734 fans. Both cases include thousands of freebie tickets.
On the pay-per-view side, De La Hoya says, “We are expecting a strong PPV number that will once again solidify his stature as the biggest PPV star at the moment.” Canelo’s biggest fight was his 2013 one with Mayweather that generated 2.2 million PPV buys. Alvarez was clearly the B side of that bout, and he was to a large degree against Miguel Cotto in 2015, which attracted 900,000 buys. Alvarez has headlined three bouts on PPV and those drew between 325,000 and 450,000 buys.
Alvarez ranked No. 92 on Forbes most recent look at the world’s highest-paid athletes with earnings of $21.5 million between June 2015 and June 2016. His fight earnings were $20 million, and he banked $1.5 million from endorsements through partners Under ArmourUA -0.44%, Tecate and Everlast. Tecate signed a deal with Alvarez in February to be a spokesman for its “Born Bold” campaign. It was the first time the beer maker signed an individual fighter to a deal. With his cut of PPV revenue, Alvarez should earn in the $6 million range for Saturday’s fight. A much bigger payday awaits against Golovkin.