The Soapbox: The return of the ‘Swider-Man’
It’s been awhile but, once again, we have Matt Swider stepping onto “The Soapbox,” a forum in which knowledgable fans like yourself get to speak your piece. The “Swider-man,” in the past, was an avid boxing fan who traveled the country to attend fights. Seriously we actually went to Detroit/Pontiac, Michigan. to see the ill-fated promotion that featured Tim Bradley-Devon Alexander at the Silverdome. So yeah, he’s a hardcore fan and, more importantly, a consumer.
Throughout the years, Matt went numerous times to Las Vegas, twice to “Jerry’s World” in Arlington, Texas, to see Manny Pacquiao and a multitude of local cards here in the Los Angeles area. But in recent years, I’ve sensed his overall interest in the sport had waned for various reasons.
But there was one particular fighter who had still kept his interest in boxing above a casual level – unified middleweight champion Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin, who, since his Stateside debut in 2012, was developed into a legitimate attraction by Tom Loeffler. During the past five years, Swider (who originally hails from South Florida and moved to Los Angeles in 2011) went to every fight at the Madison Square Garden that was headlined by Golovkin (Gabe Rosado, Daniel Geale, David Lemieux and Danny Jacobs) and, outside of the Dominic Wade bout at the Forum, while he was on a business trip, he attended every “GGG” fight in the L.A. area. And last year, Matt was in attendance at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, as Golovkin took on Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
However as we approach Cinco De Mayo 2018, well, the thrill is gone for Matt and he will not be at the StubHub Center this weekend. This is what he wrote me recently:
“The Perils of the “Super Fight.” The End of the Gennady Golovkin Era.
“’Gennady Golovkin Fight Week. A phrase that was the most popular expression in boxing for much of the last decade. Something that once meant a time of great excitement for the entire boxing industry but most notably for his vocal and, more importantly, supportive legion of fans worldwide. Unfortunately Gennady Golovkin Fight Week in 2018 is met by this:
“That’s right. The world’s best fighter and, previously, elite box office draw will perform to a mostly empty, tiny, 7,000 -seat tennis arena on a chamber of commerce Saturday night in Los Angeles. Rows and rows (and rows) of seats in every section of the bowl circling the StubHub Center will be unfilled (and, most especially, unsold), as he plies his trade once again in a city he has sold out in his three previous appearances. Check for yourselves on Axs.com. Vanes Martirosyan (he’s been such a plague to the eyes of the boxing fan that learning how to spell his name has never once been viewed as a priority) is a terrible opponent with no chance to entertain or compete, never mind win. But Golovkin’s other SoCal dance parties? Willie Monroe, Marco Antonio Rubio nor Dominic Wade had any better prospects heading into their match-ups with Golovkin either. This fact makes it difficult to blame an awful opponent or the short notice for the lack of interest in this weekend’s fight.
“So what has changed? Much of the GGG fatigue has fallen into the abyss that is boxing superstardom. As you transcend, the game becomes about fantasy fights that take years to come to fruition, as everyone associated with the game (fighters, trainers, managers, promoters, media, fans, etc.) contribute to the endless cycle that is the promotion of the ‘Super Fight.’ Boxing (all parties) participate in driving the game out of the ring and into the car wash. Shine it up! Protect a record; protect a fight and sell it as so much more. The reality? It is only 36 minutes (at most) and most of those minutes will be lost to time, largely undistinguished vacuums of the empty promise.
“Golovkin was – and maybe still is – in his own design, supposed to be different, immune to the old throes of the business. He tried to stay relevant in the most vibrant way imaginable: activity punctuated by definitive, vicious victory. His customer knew what to expect and when to expect it.
“Until, of course, the media (and fans) demanded he adhere to the old ways. The media (and fans) enabled the suits of the sport to go back to what has driven boxing into long-term peril: The Super Fight became the destination. The end. Get to that night and everyone wins.
“Except, especially in the case of Golovkin-Alvarez, no one wins. The media (and, by association, the fans) are most to blame for this malicious destruction of sport. Treating a clear next step/fight (which should merely be an obvious, executable step along the way in a fighter’s career) as the end game, celebrating the mere possibility of the fight coming to fruition and, in most damaging fashion, participating as arms for the promoters for fights like: Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan, Liam Smith, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. They allowed the boxing world to effectively stiff-arm the momentum of a fighter like Golovkin. If you wrote a positive syllable or echoed any interest to protect the dream of the eventual Super Fight, then you are to be recognized as nothing more than a willing enabler. Supporting and truly empowering the worst malignancy of the boxing business: assailing the customer.
“That customer sees Golovkin less than ever. This is boxing’s biggest problem: The fighters that you want to see don’t perform or not nearly enough. In a time when the other professional leagues, despite mounting evidence of overtaxing their employees, are always pursuing avenues for more games/competitions, boxing asks less of its practitioners than ever. Boxing is not alone in the descent; you’ll find a brother in another yesteryear sport of kings: horse racing. When Secretariat captured the sporting world’s attention in 1973, smashing through the Triple Crown en route, he completed his career with 21 lifetime starts. American Pharoah completed the same spectacular feat in 2015, yet only entered the starting gate 11 times. The great horses race less than ever, and when they do, they compete against short fields of overmatched foes. Sound familiar? Does the NBA give the consumer less LeBron James? For the all the bluster about where LeBron might play next, guess what? He spends the entire time, in the midst of the noise, on the floor exceling at his practice in front of an admiring (and most especially, paying) consumer base. Since April of 2016, Golovkin has not. He has fought THREE times. He will enter the ring in May 2018 off a career-long layoff. Shockingly, but only to those not paying attention, it comes on the heels of his largest career payday.
“Golovkin-Alvarez I, for all the buildup, was just a fight. There was truly nothing ‘super’ about it. There were no knockdowns, no forms of true brutality; activity only came in pockets and the competitive nature of the fight was only revealed in the corruption of the official scorecards. No one was declared a winner. Neither fighter attained any further greatness; the fight was not hailed an all-time great, never mind a contender for even 2017’s ‘Fight of the Year.’ Super? Please. It was a fight. Period. So in true boxing fashion? Let’s do it again! And let’s wait till both fighters are stale and charge more for it!
“Unless one fighter cheats. And let’s be clear: That’s what happened in February 2018. Canelo Alvarez cheated. Period. He ingested a banned substance. He has been suspended for it. The perfect time for Golovkin to pivot and get back to the booming business of 2012-2015, right?
“Sadly, no. You are force-fed a stale Golovkin in a fight designed for one thing and one thing only: protect the next Super Fight, the rematch with the suspended Alvarez. Just the latest “end point”: No lessons were learned. Golovkin, expertly handled by K2 Promotions and Tom Loeffler through 2015, is no victim here. Equipped with a booming box office business and fully guaranteed HBO contract, since the spring of 2016, Golovkin and Loeffler have chosen not to use any of the leverage his greatness and security provided. They have chosen to be willing participants in boxing’s ugly treatment of his fans.
“The Gennady Golovkin Era is over. He’s just here to cash the checks now.”
Well, Matt, you certainly let your hands go here. And yeah, this weekend’s card is a bit of a tough sell. Not only was it announced on just a few weeks’ notice but it was compounded by the letdown of the Alvarez rematch being kiboshed several weeks ago. Now I do think there will be a decent crowd on Saturday but, unless there’s this huge caravan of Mercedes Benzs rolling in from Glendale to support Martirosyan on Saturday, it’s unlikely, based on what you posted that Golovkin’s streak of selling out venues will continue.
But I do give Loeffler credit for salvaging this date and moving forward because having Golovkin sit out another few months after fighting just twice in both 2016 and 2017, and not having performed since last September, would have been disastrous. I’m told that Tecate really wanted this event because, as a Mexican beer, this date (coupled with the fact that it supports boxing heavily and endorses Golovkin) is essential to its brand.
So for all those saying that Golovkin should’ve just fought in June with a “better” fight, well, that’s easier said than done. Speaking of that, for all that talk of him facing his IBF mandatory Sergey Derevyachenko, well, while some bought into all the bluster from those involved in that career, it says here that all that posturing was an attempt to get a step-aside fee, a future slot on the Alvarez-Golovkin II card or a vacant title shot. But they were never serious about actually facing Golovkin on May 5.
That said, moving forward, it’s clear that all sides involved (Golden Boy Promotions and GGG Promotions) want this rematch to happen in September for a very simple reason – it’s the most money both boxers can make realistically, at this time. Yeah, this is prizefighting and, for Golovkin, who regularly makes seven-figure paydays, this is an opportunity for another eight-figure payday, this time around with a higher percentage of the proceeds. And you have to admit, regardless of how you feel about their first encounter, this time around, there is some real animosity and a storyline that will be played to the hilt. With all that, it will probably do more business than the first time around.
The question is though, what happens after this? Well, if Golovkin should come out victorious (officially), this time around, does he just settle in even more as a guy who fights twice a year? Or does he then get back to the type of schedule that made him a breath of fresh air a few years ago and a novelty for this time and place – a fighter that actually fought?
Seriously were boxing fans saying to themselves back in the middle of 2016, “Hey, you know what would be good for boxing? For Golovkin to fight less.”
Now in all fairness, Golovkin has been affected by the realities of the boxing business, in which certain entities have delayed fights (Jacobs) or leveraged their economic power to dictate time frames (Alvarez). If it were up to him, he’d probably perform much more often than he has recently but the way the business of boxing is set up now, the more you’re worth – the less you fight.
During the non-announcement at the Palm Restaurant, a few weeks ago, I had the chance to ask Golovkin and his trainer Abel Sanchez if they missed the old schedule and if they yearned to return to it. They both agreed that they wanted a more active itinerary, even if Golovkin has just turned 36. But here’s the rub: To be in the Canelo sweepstakes, you give up the right to perform when you want to. You’re either going to fight him in the first week of May or the middle of September and anything else between may disqualify you from getting that assignment.
It’s really that simple.
But after the September rematch – assuming it occurs – what’s keeping this train from getting back on the track? That’s why salvaging this upcoming bout was so key; it gives Golovkin the realistic opportunity to box three times in 2018. There is talk of a huge event in Japan against “regular” WBA beltholder Ryoto Murata, at the Tokyo Dome, in what would possibly be the biggest boxing promotion ever in that country.
Looking ahead, there are actually a lot of interesting match-ups on the middleweight horizon, in a rematch with Jacobs, and potential bouts against Jermall Charlo and Derevyachenko, among others. Now it says here that perhaps it’s time for Golovkin to start dropping belts. The bottom line is that while “All the Belts” was a great marketing tool a few years ago now that he has the WBA, WBC and IBF titles, it’s become a bit burdensome with all these looming mandatories and fighters who are now, by regulation, able to demand certain percentages with their rankings, despite not being anything close to established attractions. Honestly most of these guys have had a horseshit job (yeah, I said “horseshit”) of promoting done on their behalf and for more realistic purse splits to occur, maybe Golovkin should vacate the belts and not be confined to built-in splits against fighters who simply don’t draw.
(Now to be clear, I absolutely think Golovkin should be facing those aforementioned names in the future but boxers who can’t come close to selling out in their hometowns or have never even headlined a major show shouldn’t come into negotiations with a built-in safety net.)
Yeah, this might anger some people out there, for whatever reason, but it’s time for Loeffler to start playing a bit of hardball and enforcing the market value he and Golovkin have cultivated. And without one mandatory obligation after another, perhaps it would be easier to get back to their regular rotation of fights and not be hampered by purse bids and the like. You want to fight Golovkin? OK, make a fair deal based on your actual worth and schedule the fight.
Golovkin is probably the third most valuable franchise in boxing (behind Canelo and Anthony Joshua) and he should have more say in where and when he fights moving forward. But maybe he simply wants all the belts around his waist and wont vacate any (or all) of his titles till he faces WBO beltholder Billy Joe Saunders.
Point is, there are a lot of fights to be made for Golovkin – the question is, will he actually get to them before he rides into the sunset?
Here’s the latest edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule” with “Cinco de” Mario Lopez and Yours Truly. You’ll hear from Vanes Martirosyan and Ryan Garcia.
Top Rank has announced that a doubleheader featuring WBO 168-pound titlist Gilberto Ramirez and junior welterweight contender Alex “Cholo” Saucedo will take place on June 30, at Chesapeake Energy Arena, home of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder…Word is Nonito Donaire Sr. will be joining the camp of Manny Pacquiao, as he preps for Lucas Matthysse, on July 14, in Malaysia…Tickets for the Ryan Garcia-Jayson Velez fight, on Friday night at the StubHub Center, are moving very well…”Barry” on HBO has been very good. I’m all-in on this one…Can Brad Stevens coach or what?…OK, this Southern California weather will warm up a bit by the weekend, right?…”Billions” on Showtime has been simply brilliant this season…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.