When the biggest star in Hollywood announces an upcoming fight, it’s a big deal. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is certainly hyped for the rematch between Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, set for May 5.
“I guaran-damn-tee you it ain’t going to be another draw,” The Rock said in an HBO social media promo last week to announce the much-anticipated bout.
Let’s hope not. Now that the date for the undisputed middleweight championship has been finalized, promoters must agree on a site. Madison Square Garden is making a strong play and has already submitted a proposal guaranteeing a more lucrative gate than was made in the first bout, held last September at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That match-up earned about $27 million.
“I don’t know what Vegas is going to offer,” said Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter. “It’ll be a little bit of a back-and-forth. But the Garden is definitely very interested in this fight. They realize this is one the few times they have a legitimate shot of getting a big fight. I don’t think Floyd [Mayweather] or Manny [Pacquiao] or any of those big fights ever considered New York. Gennady likes New York. Either this fight or if Gennady wins maybe a third fight, I think the Garden has a legitimate shot at getting one of these fights.”
Las Vegas with its cheaper hotels, casinos and no state tax is still the favorite to host the rematch, but the Garden has a real chance to land Alvarez-Golovkin II because of its long-standing relationship with Golovkin. The unbeaten IBF, WBA and WBO middleweight champion has fought six times in New York. His last Garden fight was in March, when he earned a unanimous decision over Daniel Jacobs before a crowd of 19,939.
“The Garden is synonymous with the biggest and best events in sports and entertainment and the Golovkin-Alvarez fight certainly fits into this category,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Marquee Events.
Getting Alvarez to agree to fight in New York could be a tough sell. Nine of his past 12 fights have been in Las Vegas, where his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, fought the majority of his biggest bouts.
“It seems Canelo would prefer Vegas, but it’s going to come down to a financial decision,” Loeffler said. “I’ll sort through it with Golden Boy and see what we can work out. I know the Garden is definitely interested in putting in a bid, but Vegas is going to be hard to beat for the overall package they offer.”
It’s difficult to blame Alvarez if he prefers Las Vegas, where he has enjoyed the benefit of some favorable decisions, none more controversial than the first bout with Golovkin at T-Mobile Arena. Alvarez had his best success early and late in the fight, but many fans and media saw Golovkin as a clear winner. Judge Dave Moretti had it 115-113 for GGG. Don Trella scored a 114-114 draw, while Adalaide Byrd had Canelo winning 118-110.
The Byrd scorecard created more chatter than the fight.
“I don’t think anybody saw Canelo winning 10 rounds, even the most ardent Canelo fans,” Loeffler said. “The rematch has been demanded since the controversial decision from the last time.”
Alvarez has been featured in Las Vegas on Cinco de Mayo the past two years, defeating Julio Cesar Chavez last year and Amir Khan in 2016.
“Cinco de Mayo in Vegas is a traditional boxing holiday and people fly in for that,” Loeffler said. “At the same time, between the GGG fan base and Canelo fan base, it doesn’t matter where this fight is because they both have such an international fan base.”
The first bout distributed by HBO pay-per-view drew 1.3 million buys and figures to exceed that in the rematch.
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