The War Report: This Masquerade (Week 18, 2017)
“Are we really happy here
With this lonely game we play?
Looking for words to say
Searching but not finding understanding anywhere.
We’re lost in a masquerade.”
One of the best renditions of the Mexican national anthem had just been sung and the stage was set for what was billed as the biggest fight in Mexican boxing history last Saturday night. It was safe to assume that the 20,510 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada were all Mexican as they sang in unison but, once the nationalistic pride was put aside, they were split when rooting between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. It was as if they were competing at who could be louder but, by the end of it, they were back in harmony, booing at the listless mismatch before them. Some fans left their pricey seats empty before the fight was even over and, although it would’ve been correct to assume the result, they missed what this show was truly about.
You could tell HBO Sports’ Max Kellerman knew how to phrase the inevitable question of whom Canelo would fight next and his response cued the lights to go dark as a promo for the fight was revealed on the big screen. Sept. 16 was revealed as the official date and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin began a ring walk with his song blaring. Then the confetti fell from the rafters in a moment that was only missing a cheesy Premier Boxing Champions ramp. Undeniably preordained, this writer could only imagine how deceived those at home felt, watching this on an HBO Pay-Per-View, and there was that same sense while picking those shards of paper out of your hair.
“Both afraid to say we’re just too far away
From being close together from the start.
We tried to talk it over but the words got in the way.
We’re lost inside this lonely game we play.”
Looking back, between the second and third rounds of the fight, the crowd was booing Golovkin, as his face was captured ringside on the big screen. Knowing what was going to take place, shortly, the middleweight champion didn’t flash his trademark smile then but it was plastered on his boyish face as he made his way to the ring – and the crowd loved it. Golovkin finally entered the ring to take part in an interview with Kellerman and, looking back, it was almost a year to the day on May 7, 2016 – after Canelo knocked Amir Khan out, in another mismatch. It was an infamous moment when Canelo proclaimed that Mexicans “don’t fuck around” and he would make everyone wait a year-and-a-half for the fight they really wanted.
Golovkin certainly didn’t like it, and seemed to be embarrassed by taking part in the charade. That’s what was perceived in a moment this writer had with Golovkin a couple months back. It was at a print media round table leading up to his March 18 fight with Daniel Jacobs and there, I asked Golovkin if he’d ever accept a post-fight invitation from Canelo again.
“No. For what?,” Golovkin replied. Gennady even said he wouldn’t attend Canelo-Chavez, stating, “This is very bad for boxing, for sport. It’s good for business, bad for boxing. I respect boxing – sport.”
“Thoughts of leaving disappear.
Every time I see your eyes,
No matter how hard I try
To understand the reasons that we carry on this way,
We’re lost in a masquerade.”
It was an unprecedented way to roll out a fight and it got plenty of attention from the mainstream media. A large audience that didn’t want – or care – to buy the pay-per-view still got the news, however, and it doesn’t excuse Canelo-Chavez from being yet another bad event (just imagine if the announcement didn’t happen). Canelo himself shouldn’t be blamed, based on his performance, but recent history has shown that Chavez was never the man everyone hoped him to be. Knowing boxing is treated like a religion for Mexican fans, the propagandism worked to perfection, as this event was surely a financial success (somehow, someway, Canelo dropped to a 4-to-1 favorite on fight night, so Sin City also won).
The business that drives boxing isn’t exactly a concept based on morality but, no matter how cheated people may have felt walking out of the arena, most delved into whatever sin they pleased, soon thereafter. Happily overpaying for just about everything else on Las Vegas Boulevard, in hopes that their statuses are noticed, and their thirsts for whatever pleasures they seek are quenched. As for those at home, who bought into it – there’s really no other way to put it – Canelo-Chavez was merely a commercial for Canelo-Golovkin. Although that may seem like a bamboozling, no one was forced to buy in and, should those dissatisfied customers stick to their guns and not buy the next fight , they would be missing one of the biggest fights the sport has to offer. Surely they’ve heard that one before but, this time, it’s the absolute truth and, no matter how one felt about the proceedings , how could one be mad about a fight that was so dearly wanted?
What a vicious circle this masquerade is.
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