Cinco de StubHub
What was supposed to be the weekend featuring the rematch between middleweight ruler Gennady Golovkin and Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on May 5, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, became a full weekend of fight cards at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Both Golden Boy Promotions and GGG Promotions scrambled to salvage this Cinco de Mayo slot which has become so vital to the boxing business.
And it was symbolic that Golden Boy featured undefeated 19-year-old junior lightweight Ryan Garcia in an attempt to create, in essence, the next Canelo, a bankable star who can be a flagship fighter for the company and can, one day, be a pay-per-view attraction. This while Tom Loeffler overcame more hurdles than Edwin Moses in his prime, to somehow get Golovkin a fight on May 5.
One card was about the future. The other was about preserving the present.
The show couldn’t go on but these two did.
Some thoughts on what I witnessed ringside on Friday and Saturday night…
– There is no boxer currently who has utilized social media (Twitter and Instagram) quite like Garcia, who has become quite the polarizing figure in the sport. This isn’t a bad thing. You either love or loathe him with no indifferent feelings about him.
Teenager girls swoon over him, while the more grizzled mature boxing fans don’t even give him begrudging respect, at this point. But as he fights, he likely moves the needle.
He has made bold proclamations that if he were a middleweight versus Golovkin, he’d,”kick his ass” and he hasn’t been shy about calling about Gervonta Davis, despite having just 15 bouts under his belt after defeating Jayson Velez as the headliner on the latest edition of “Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN.” And the verdict, after going 10 rounds versus the awkward and game Puerto Rican, is Garcia is just like that goofy wheel of cheddar in the Cheez-Its ads…
(As for facing Davis in the near future, what’s that saying? Be careful what you wish for. This would be the worst incident involving a “Tank” since Tiananmen Square.)
Garcia has some physical tools, he’s a long, wiry boxer with top-notch reflexes and a natural feel for counterpunching with his left hook. And with this style, he has scored some eye-opening KOs against carefully hand-picked opposition, which, honestly, is more a testament to GBP matchmaker Robert Diaz than Garcia. Because in all fairness, at this age, he really shouldn’t be having any “real” fights and he’s facing the appropriate level of foes, just like many other prospects.
However it’s clear that Garcia still doesn’t know how to utilize an effective jab and set the table with it. On the inside, he has absolutely no idea how to work from close quarters. And then there is that chin, which is up in the air, waiting to peeled back like a Pez dispenser.
Now, with all that said, there is still room for all this to be cleaned up and improved. At 19, there really should be no rush on Golden Boy’s part or anyone else involved in this career. The real battle, at this point, is for the brain trust to understand this and manage expectations of the family. After all, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
“KingRy” has some real talent; however it needs to be developed and nurtured (and the other question is, can he fully evolve as a prizefighter training in his garage with his father?). Individuals like him are good for the business and he has already cultivated a brand and a following.
But how he perceives himself and where he is now, in reality, are polar opposites.
– There was an announced crowd of just over 6,600 on Friday night, which, for a 19-year old, is quite an achievement. Oscar De La Hoya sent out a tweet on Friday proclaiming (with a hashtag) that they were “outsellingGGG,” which brought about responses lampooning the fact that parking prices at the StubHub Center were more expensive than some of the tickets for this event.
Honestly Golden Boy should be praised for this. As I was walking around the venue, it was very noticeable that Garcia brought about a different demographic through the turnstiles. I’ve never been to a Justin Bieber concert but I imagine this is what the crowd would look like. There were a multitude of young females in attendance and it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to believe it was their first time at a boxing event.
So with that, why wouldn’t they price this event accordingly, given the fan-base, and that they are still in the very early stage of building Garcia into an attraction?
There will be plenty of time to eventually gouge the fans – should Garcia pan out as a boxer – at a Las Vegas casino.
– As for Saturday night, Golovkin did the expected by blowing out Vanes Martirosyan in two rounds. This event was announced less than three weeks ago and the announced attendance was just around 7,800, which isn’t bad, considering the circumstances and the aggressive pricing of this event. But the victory for Loeffler is that this show went ahead and finally he can exhale a bit.
It’s evident that corporate entities like Chivas Regal and Tecate absolutely wanted – and perhaps needed – a boxing event on this weekend, as they have “GGG” as an official endorser and are involved in the sport of boxing. (By the way, Chivas Regal throws a helluva pre-and-post-fight party). When you are a brand like Golovkin, you have certain responsibilities. This date – if not the actual match-up – was very meaningful for everyone involved.
— StubHub Kim (@steveucnlive) May 5, 2018
— StubHub Kim (@steveucnlive) May 5, 2018
– As for the fight itself, well, you saw the difference between a good 154-pounder and a real middleweight. Martirosyan, who had never been close to being stopped before, said Golovkin hit “like a train” and he was railroaded in the second with a barrage of pinpoint accurate power punches.
— HBOboxing (@HBOboxing) May 6, 2018
As for what’s next, well, the rematch with Canelo is still squarely on everyone’s mind. “Calm” Loeffler told UCNLive.com at the post-fight press conference that, “I’ve been in regular contact with (GBP President) Eric (Gomez) and we’ll see how that plays out.”
It’s interesting that, prior to the fight, Golovkin put the chances of that bout happening again at 10 percent but Loeffler said with a chuckle, “That’s when the media asks about a future fight when he’s focused on a current fight. That’s why he answers like that. We’ll see what happens.”
– This much is clear: There has never been a non-Mexican fighter in recent memory with as many diehard Mexican fans as Golovkin. This is perhaps why they could get away with calling this most recent promotion “Mexican Style 2,” despite featuring Kazakh and Armenian boxers in the main event. Most of the fans there at the StubHub on Saturday night were Mexican and Mexican-American.
However the other thing that really struck me is as I walked around is just how much Golovkin merchandise is sold at his events. The shop at the StubHub, which sells mostly Galaxy gear, had a very long line of customers buying Golovkin paraphernalia and other items related to the fight. Yeah, business was brisk all over at the kiosks filled with “GGGear.”
It got me wondering, why don’t more fighters have at least shirts and hats made for them? Production runs don’t have to be all that large and wouldn’t this be a great way of branding (and by the way, saw a lot of KingRy shirts on Friday night) and spreading the word of a fighter? Floyd Mayweather Jr. has certainly aided his cause with his “TMT” line which has become iconic in the boxing world. Long before the Jordan Brand was involved, Golovkin had – and still has – his own line of products.
Go to any fights and you’ll invariably see fans with GGG or TMT stuff on them.
Could you imagine other professional entities in other sports not having anything available to their fan base?
The latest item that was unveiled last week was the Golovkin version of “The Terrible Towel”:
Hearing a lot of criticism of the HBO crew on Twitter. All I can say is I feel for Jim Lampley…If David Haye was a horse, they’d shoot him and take him to the glue factory…Emanuel Rodriguez was extremely impressive in defeating Paul Butler for the vacant IBF bantamweight title…Really looking forward to this week’s “ShoBox” main event between Devin Haney and Mason Menard…StubHub Center is a great venue but it needs to relax its rules on tailgating a bit. Right now, the Forum is a much better place for that; ask “Mr. Boxing Guru”…LeBron James is pretty good at basketball…Yes, I’ll be in New York for Jorge Linares vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko. Jimmy’s Corner, here I come!…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.