Canelo-GGG: We know when but where?
It’s been over a week since the highly anticipated match-up between middleweight ruler Gennady Golovkin and Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was announced for Sept. 16. So now that we know when this bout is taking place, the big question is where?
A multitude of fans are pondering that question and have begun to book flights and hotels to multiple cities (and if you haven’t done that yet and plan on attending this fight, I’d suggest you do so immediately).
The usual suspects are in play: Las Vegas (where MGM and T-Mobile are certainly making their plays for this promotion), AT&T Stadium near Dallas, Texas and Madison Square Garden in New York have all been prominently mentioned. Now Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and the Alamodome in San Antonio – which had over 63,500 in attendance when Pernell Whitaker faced Julio Cesar Chavez in 1993 – have thrown their hats into the mix.
But history has shown that when Las Vegas, which has the luxury of legalized gaming on its properties, wants a fight, it gets it. It is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla here. While Jerry Jones has hosted a few fights at his billion-dollar facility that have featured Canelo and Manny Pacquiao, he has been relegated to those more or less consolation prizes.
Can he offer substantial enough a package that will overcome his lack of craps tables and slot machines?
Canelo-GGG is a co-promotion between Golden Boy Promotions and K2 Promotions, who will start to sift through the various offers and begin to figure out just which proposals are the most realistic and substantial.
But the question is: In choosing a site for this event, is it just about the (most) money?
During his exclusive sit-down with UCNLive.com last week, Tom Loeffler (the Managing Director of K2 Promotions) stated, “The financial part is going to play a significant role but I don’t think it’s only about the money because a fight like this is really a historic fight. I’m not downplaying Vegas at all because Gennady’s never fought in Las Vegas. That’s always been one of his dreams to fight in Las Vegas. This would be the perfect fight to go there. You have all the celebrities; you have all the VIPs, all the people that fly into Vegas for these types of events. (Mike) Tyson fought there. (Floyd) Mayweather (Jr.) fought there. Many huge events have taken place in Las Vegas.”
But there is a certain heavyweight fight Loeffler recently attended that left an indelible mark on him, “At the same time, the (Anthony) Joshua versus (Wladimir) Klitschko fight at Wembley Stadium, when you see 90,000 people. We’ve done Klitschko’s fights in soccer stadiums in Germany, 40,000, 50,000-seat soccer stadiums, and those were huge events. But when you see 90,000 people at Wembley, if we can do something like that, Cowboys Stadium, or as I mentioned, there’s a lot of offers coming in.”
Even New Orleans, which long ago hosted historic bouts such as the rematch between Muhammad Ali and Leon Spinks and then the “No Mas” fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran at the Superdome, has expressed interest in this fight.
It has to be noted that Loeffler has built Golovkin into an attraction the past several years without going to Las Vegas, opting instead to use venues like the Garden in New York and Los Angeles (utilizing the Forum and the StubHub Center) in the States.
Loeffler noted, “Jerry Jones invited Gennady last year to one of the games and Canelo fought up there and sold 50,000 tickets with Liam Smith. I’m sure that we can sell 90,000, 100,000 with this fight just from the reaction that we’ve gotten from the fans.”
Yes, Jones has already reached out to Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya, according to company president Eric Gomez (who joined us in-studio on “Between the Ropes” last week), “He spoke to Oscar; he reached out to Oscar. They’re good friends.” He added, “Next week is when we’re going to start negotiations for the venue.”
A decision will be made within the next few weeks.
“It’s not just dollars and cents from the ticket sales; it’s the additional value that goes into it,” insisted Loeffler, who gives you the sense that he wants as many fans to enjoy this experience as possible. “When you have a big pay-per-view fight like this, you also want your strategic partners and sponsors, not only HBO, but you also want the venue marketing the fight, as well.”
(And yes, the Cowboys are on the road the weekend of Sept. 16.)
Loeffler continued, “So there’s a lot of different factors that go into making the decision of the venue.”
The Dodger Stadium bid has one big problem: California state taxes make it very prohibitive for big fights to occur in this jurisdiction, so this bid will probably die short of the warning track. San Antonio and New Orleans make for good copy. This is a two-horse race between Las Vegas and “Jerruh” (who has found that landing a super-fight is as elusive as getting to the Super Bowl without Jimmy Johnson-constructed teams).
As you peruse the various travel sites, you see that hotel rates all throughout the Vegas strip have been jacked up. Yeah, it’s like they know something. The reality is if Las Vegas does land the fight, the large majority of the average fans simply will not have access to tickets and, at best, will be relegated to viewing the proceedings at a closed-circuit location. On the flipside, while tickets will be much more readily available for the public in a stadium, sight-lines at these larger venues aren’t nearly as good. In many respects, you are there for the event atmosphere more so than to actually see the fight.
Larry Merchant, who plans on attending Canelo-Golovkin, says, “I have no problems with either place. It would get a lot of people’s attention in America if you could say that upwards of 90,000 are paying their way into a ballpark. Maybe that’s a big deal in helping to promote boxing.”
News flash: Boxing is a business. The financial bottom line is the only one that really matters but a large part of the story of Joshua-Klitschko was the setting in which it played out. What better way to show that boxing (in America) isn’t dead by doing something similar? For too long, the business of boxing simply hasn’t invested in its future and grown the brand.
What better occasion than this to do that?
To this, Merchant (who once taught me this all-too-true lesson: “Steve, they always go where the money is.”) states, “In the abstract, yes; in the real world, that’s not the way it works.”
Remember when Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum said he had plans – with a blueprint and everything – to put the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight in a makeshift stadium? Maybe Golden Boy and K2 can borrow those for Sept. 16. But seriously, I do recall reading that, when Larry Holmes faced Gerry Cooney at Caesar’s Palace, it had an attendance of over 28,000, which was much larger than the usual capacity of 17,000 when it hosted fights featuring Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard.
Arum explained, “They tried a larger stadium, which was in the parking lot and they had problems there with security and it’s not easy to construct a whole new stadium. The tennis stadium lent itself to great views for everybody. There’s less need for an outdoor stadium now – if there’s a need at all – because there are venues in Las Vegas of different sizes like T-Mobile, like MGM, like Mandalay Bay, which has great sight-lines. It’s small, has about 11,000, where they wisely put the (Sergey) Kovalev-(Andre) Ward rematch.”
And soon a huge facility will be constructed.
“Ultimately for really huge events, which will rival Cowboys Stadium, they will have the new stadium where the Raiders will play. It’s a covered stadium,” pointed out Arum. And yes, he believes it will be a player, in the future, for fights of a certain magnitude.
“I think so,” he stated. “I think 20,000 is a good, good number for fights but, if you had to push it beyond 20,000, for example, like if a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was held, you’d opt for a stadium. I think the new stadium will be used for super, super-fights to accommodate as many people as you can.”
One of the hurdles in making Canelo-GGG a reality is when both sides agreed to a percentage split instead of Golovkin/K2 taking a flat fee for this promotion.
During our sit-down, (which can be seen here):
Loeffler said of this issue, “There’s a couple of comments on that – not getting into too much detail on it because of a confidentiality clause but, from the beginning, our position was both guys should get a percentage. If the fight does great, both guys should be rewarded. If the fight under-performs, it shouldn’t be one side being penalized because they’re paying a guarantee.
“I think we would’ve gotten the fight done either way, with a percentage or a guarantee. We were very close to going down the road of having a guarantee but when we were able to switch directions and go with the percentage, I think it’s unlike other fighters who get guaranteed purses, whether their fight performs or not – here, if the fight does extraordinarily well, both guys would get paid extraordinarily.
“If they don’t go out and promote the fight, don’t sell tickets, if they don’t sell pay-per-views, if they just go into a shell in their training camp, then the promotion will reflect that. And that’s why I think the percentage is the most fair split on that.”
Hall-of-Famer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini was back in town and we did another episode of “Gloves Off” last week:
Here’s Loeffler on the possibility of Alvarez not fighting for Golovkin’s IBF title and not participating in the morning-of weigh-in…Suguru Muranaka gave Kal Yafai all he could handle over 12 rounds; didn’t he?…Dodger Stadium itself has made history in boxing. Back in 1963, it hosted the ill-fated bout between Sugar Ramos and Davey Moore, that saw Moore die a few days after the fight. It was the inspiration for this song by Bob Dylan:
How ’bout Hard Rock Stadium in Miami for Sept. 16? The big screens can play the Miami-FSU game from Doak Campbell Stadium and then Canelo-GGG. Sounds perfect to me…Are the Cavs going to lose a game before the NBA Finals?…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.