Canelo vs Smith PPV: Will Machiavellian tactics prevail?
It’s July 18th in Dallas, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones mans the podium to announce that Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez will fight at AT&T Stadium on Mexican Independence Day.
A Mariachi band serenades the throngs of journalists that have gathered for the presser, but all eyes are on the 70-foot high jumbotron which overhangs center field. The gigantic screen displays the likenesses of the model-handsome Mexican boxer and his opponent, WBO titlist Liam Smith--a Liverpool pugilist who is virtually unknown on these shores.
In May, Alvarez was slated to face Kazakh juggernaut Gennady Golovkin in a big PPV showdown after the WBC ordered a purse bid in the event that negotiations between the two sides failed to come to fruition.
Fight fans salivated at the prospect of a bonafide mega-match to crown an undisputed middleweight regent.
In a SportsNation segment that aired this past March, Golden Boy Promotion’s CEO Oscar De La Hoya strongly hinted that he and Jerry Jones were discussing an imminent clash between Golovkin and Alvarez at the Cowboys owner’s Texas stadium.
The boxing world was abuzz with speculation that the most extravagant superfight since Mayweather-Pacquiao was on the horizon.
But, Alvarez’s wily promoter, De La Hoya, had other plans, he and his vassals at Golden Boy Promotions did not think it prudent to allow their cash cow to suffer a probable second career loss, potentially by way of cataclysmic knockout at the hands of the universally feared Triple-G. And so, a twofold plan was hatched, firstly Alvarez vacated his prized WBC middleweight belt to sidestep GGG. Secondly, in a dramatic PR face-saving gesture, Golden Boy announced that Alvarez was dropping back down to junior middleweight in a shame-faced bid to silence the firestorm of criticism brought about by the Mexican warrior’s abdication.
Following his escape-hatch descent from the middleweight plateau, Alvarez has chosen to face a U.K. domestic-level brawler in Smith, who is arguably the weakest link in terms of 154-pound beltholders.
In the end, De La Hoya promised Golovkin but delivered an unknown Englishman, hoodwinking the casual fans with a massive bait-and-switch. The end result is a stadium fight totally unworthy of the HBO PPV platform it is being broadcast on.
In the absence of Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez, it is clear that today’s boxing landscape is devoid of a go-to Mexican star who can mobilize the lucrative Mexican-American boxing fanbase--a major HBO/Showtime pay-per-view demographic.
It seems that Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya has carefully maneuvered Alvarez into that empty PPV throne, though he lacks the luster and devil-may-care attitude of those aforementioned fabled greats.
But, despite what he lacks in legacy, Alvarez’s star power is undeniable, his pay-per-view bout with Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto racked up 900,000 buys. The Golden Boy-promoted fighter also recently inked an endorsement deal to become the face of Tecate, a popular Mexican beer. Alvarez has also partnered with Everlast and Under Armor, thereby cementing his out-of-the-ring marketability.
But, be that as it may, the Liam Smith bout foregrounds an as-yet unanswered question about Alvarez’s true star power:
Is the Mexican fighter a standalone pay-per-view attraction or does he require a decent B-side level opponent to strike Home Box Office gold?
A definitive answer will resound once the HBO buy-units are tallied, but it is widely believed that Golovkin-Alvarez is the only bout that could draw upwards of 1 million-plus PPV buys outside of a Mayweather-Pacquiao rematch.
In any event, the specter of Golovkin will loom over AT&T Stadium long after the lights dim on September 17th, because that faint apparition of ring glory that could have been is all that boxing fans have left to grasp for in this era of mediocrity and Machiavellian PR ploys.
Are you ordering tonight's Canelo vs Smith PPV?