Grantacular Fight of the Year

By Wrigley Brogan on September 17, 2018
Grantacular Fight of the Year
Canelo is rich and the wealth shows. He does not come across as humble. (Wrigley Brogan)

There are fighters today who could whip a good many of the champions of the past. Golovkin and Canelo are two of them…

The Golovkin/Canelo fight promised to be one of those historic events in boxing, something on the scale of the three Ali/Frazier fights, or Gatti vs. Ward, Dempsey vs. Tunney, or Alexis Arguello vs. Aaron Pryor or any fight involving Bobby Chacon. After the controversial draw of their first fight, fans have been dreaming of an explosive contest between two of the best in the fight game.

Wherever fight fans gather there has been confusion, equivocation, hope and doubt about the outcome of the new fight, all the signs of a fantastic night of fisticuffs. Most fans agree that Golovkin is a decent boxer and has the hardest punch, but that his age is starting to show. They also agree that Canelo is a decent puncher, is the better boxer, but that he can be a head case. Because of this fans cannot predict a winner and because their reputations as barroom experts could be permanently damaged through a poor choice and Boy Scouts and male beauticians will look upon them with disdain forever.

The chance of a great fight was possible. However, fans have been fooled by hype before. All too often a decent fighter is pitted against an opponent holding a great record. After every last cent is squeezed from the pay-per-view hype the opponent reveals he has all the boxing skills of a monkey playing the violin.

Many old-time fans believe boxers today are not as tough as those in the past. Such thinking is not uncommon. Most people, after reaching a certain age, start remembering the past as the golden age of almost everything. A.J. Liebling wrote, “One thing about the Sweet Science upon all intimates agree is that it used to be better. The exact period at which it was better, however, varies in direct ratio to the age of the fellow telling about it…” He wrote this in 1955.

There are fighters today who could whip a good many of the champions of the past. Golovkin and Canelo are two of them. Two better fighters one will never see.

Two things could happen during the fight. Both men, strong and eager to prove their hearts, skills, and dominance, will stage a show unequalled in years. The fight will become part of boxing legend and fight fans 40 years from now will complain, “Boxers today don’t have the skills or the guts of the old guys like Golovkin and Canelo.”

The downside is that each man, respectful of each other’s heart, skills, and dominance, will refuse to commit himself or take a chance. Not likely! These are proud men. And if this does happen fans 40 years from now will say—NOTHING. They will not be remembered, like the bout between Lou Nova and Gunnar Barlund.

Trainer Abel Sanchez decided years ago to turn Golovkin into a Russian T-34 tank, almost indestructible and with tremendous KO power. He understood the style would be effective for Golovkin and also pleasing for fans. He was right. Mexicans especially appreciate this style and some experts think there may be as many of them rooting for Golovkin as there are for Canelo, although I doubt it. He has also maintained a low profile regarding his wealth. Flashing his money around is not an option when building fans. People appreciate humble heroes. It is always better to drive a Yugo and shoot pool with the boys than drive a Bentley and shoot snooker with power brokers.

Canelo is a counterpuncher. He can be aggressive when an opening occurs. Mayweather Jr.’s counterpunching earned him buckets filled with riches in spite of putting record numbers of fans to sleep. They often paid, not to see him fight, but to see him beaten. Canelo is not yet in that category. Fans would still rather see Canelo win in spite of his endorsements. He is rich and the wealth shows. He does not come across as humble. He enjoys the rewards of hard work, maybe enjoys them too much. For some perverse reason people want others to succeed, but resent the success, especially if the recipients flaunt their hard work or good fortune.

I rose at 3:00 am to get to Sea-Tac Airport and catch my flight to Las Vegas. The freeway was almost clear, the airport nearly empty, and security did their dedicated job of missing over 90% of dangerous items, although they were suspect about my cameras. The flight to Vegas is only two hours, time enough to be invited to party with a group going to a NASCAR Convention and another group celebrating Joe’s fortieth birthday. They were already pretty potted. They asked about the fight and wondered if any tickets were available. I get asked this question a lot, as if I have some insight to ticket sales.

Vegas is an otherworldly place just West of Pluto where money has no meaning or value as currency, but more as wallpaper. At MGM Grand I overheard a man on the cell phone tell someone on the other end he got a great price on a room, just $500. My room for a month in Vietnam, including meals, is only $300 and a woman comes in once a day to wash my hair and give me a back and shoulder rub. (I may have accidentally married her. Since I do not speak the language I am not sure.)

I could not find the shuttle that was supposed to take the press to the T-Mobile Arena. No one seemed to know much about it except that it came at all hours, parked in no particular place, and carried no sign to identify it. For thirty minutes I followed every pasty-faced, fat guy with a briefcase thinking he might know where the shuttle was. I finally gave up and decided to sit, watch and listen to people.

There was a boxing ring just inside the hotel entrance. People with folded fists made gruesome faces while they had their pictures taken. Everywhere there milled various groups of boxing fans wearing red Canelo headbands or blue GGG headbands. There were a tremendous number of Mexicans in the halls and the gift shop was doing a bang-up business in cheap T-shirts and hats.

I watched the people come and go, especially the women. Apparently there is a clothing shortage in Vegas that has been hushed up. Some of those poor women were practically naked and I thought of starting a fundraising campaign to buy gift vouchers at JoAnn Fabrics.

Watching women is like watching birds. A flock of flamingos floated past followed by some lovely swans, a few pigeon-toed pink tootsies and a slew-footed warbler.

I had to get to the T-Mobile Arena so I decided to walk. I have a budget for gambling: $5. By time I exited the casino I was $2 ahead.

The park outside the arena was alive with activity: mariachi bands, free Canelo and GGG headbands, Budweiser and Tecate beer booths, free shots of Hennessy whiskey, dancing and singing everywhere. A boxing ring was set up. A long line of men with their young sons waited to climb into the ring to have their pictures taken with the ring girls. The men shoved their embarrassed sons into the arms of the girls then decided, as long as they were there anyway, they should have their pictures taken, too.

I sat with two men wearing Triple G headbands. We sat in the shade to hide from the 100-degree heat and waited for the arena doors to open. They had flown in from France for the fight. Triple G was their man, although they had noticed some slippage during his last two fights. No one beats age. Still, they felt his skills were so great that he could pull off the win. I mentioned that one of my favorite boxers was Marcel Cerdan. He was slick, hard-hitting, and possibly France’s greatest boxer. This seemed to please them.

Inside, the arena was almost empty. The promoters know how to treat the photographers. We were seated in the Budweiser lounge about 150 feet from the ring. Along with the press pass came two food vouchers totaling $30.00. The lounge was for high rollers.

I sat next to Ed, a photographer for the Philippines. His shots go out immediately to a central point in the country where it is distributed to different outlets. He has an assistant who constantly fiddles with the camera. One advantage in sitting by Ed is that he is also Manny Pacquio’s cut man. Mayweather Jr. had just announced a rematch with Pacquio. That annoyed him a great deal because he thought the announcement was designed to take the impact off this fight and focus it on him.

The two preliminary bouts, fought to an empty house, both went the distance, something unusual this night. The four undercard bouts, with the exception of Moises Fuentes vs. Roman Gonzales, were all mismatches and ended in KOs in the first or second rounds. The Fuentes vs. Gonzales fight managed to go five rounds before Gonzales won by KO. I read about the greatness of the undercard bouts by the usual spin-doctors the following morning. They should be ashamed. A fight is what it is, not what you think it is, or are paid to think it is.

The early KOs left almost two hours to kill before the main event. I ate my way through a “Pinks” hotdog washing it down with a bottle of water. The bill came to $16. A glass of beer on tap was $18. The elite in the lounge were drinking it like air between shots of whiskey. They wore silk suits, patent leather shoes, and were accompanied by accessories in slinky dresses and push-up bras.

Minutes before the main event the crowd flowed in like a tsunami. There was enough electricity in the room to light all of Nevada. The fight exceeded all expectations and should go down in history as one of the greatest bouts in boxing.

From the opening round both fighters refused to take a backward step. They had no need for a feeling out round. Abel Sanchez, Triple G’s trainer, said before the fight that Golovkin had to win by knockout. Golovkin was putting together freight train punches. Several landed on Canelo’s head but did no damage. Both these men have chins of titanium or solid rock.

After the first round it was evident this was no ordinary fight, nor ordinary men or ordinary boxers. They are so far ahead of great boxers that one would have to make up words, as did Shakespeare on occasion, to describe them. Grantacular!

Canelo knew exactly what to do. He immediately went to the body to wear down the older Golovkin. By time the fight had finished he had thrown more body shots than I had ever witnessed.

You know it’s a great fight when you think it has just started but soon discover that you are already in the 6th round. I only knew it was the 6th because I emerged from my amazement when Golovkin started to tire, not much, just barely noticeable.

Up to that point there was not a single break in the action. The referee, having nothing to do, could have gone for coffee. Back and forth, back and forth they went, fists flying, heads being knocked about like balloons in a windstorm. After each round we photographers looked at one another and shook our heads in disbelief. Ordinarily we give a little nod or grin indicting the winner of the round. This time we all looked dumbfounded.

Canelo pushed ahead with his relentless body shots and for a round or two one thought he might be on top, that Golovkin would continue to tire. Then, Golovkin got his second wind.

My God, My God, I kept mumbling to myself; this coming from a devout heathen and sworn atheist.

By time the fight ended, I sat in a cold sweat as if I had gone the 12 rounds, unable to move as I cooled down. Generally all the photographers start gabbing away after a fight. This time complete silence fell over everyone. None of us could tell who had won. We didn’t even have any opinions, no “I thinks…” nothing to reveal how keen we were in the fight game.

The Canelo fans erupted like a volcano when he was announced the winner. I always enjoy a passage from A.J. Liebling’s about viewing a live fight. ”You can go to them to see what ITALICdid happen. What you actually think you remember about the fight will be an amalgam of what you thought you saw there, what you read in the papers you saw, and what you saw on film.”

I was higher than the airplane on the flight home. I pulled out my laptop to fish through the shots I had taken. One can always expect trouble in any big event. The auto focus on my Nikon D600 developed a mind of its own during the fight, sometimes focusing on Will Smith or Mike Tyson sitting ringside, or a guy in a Hawaiian shirt picking his nose in the third row. More often it focused on the far ring rope. But occasionally it did find the two boxers. I always split my fights between a digital camera and my f5 film camera. Film always works; you just have no instant satisfaction.

The woman in the seat next to me looked over the pictures.

“What you got?” she said.

“Pictures of the greatest fight of the century.”

“Who?”

“Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. There has never been anything like it. People will be talking about it for years. The fight was nothing less than Grantacular.”

“Oh,” she said, then leaned back and fell asleep

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  1. tuxtucis 03:59am, 09/22/2018

    Good fight, but not great one..for sure…

  2. Koolz 05:22pm, 09/18/2018

    This was great read and yes it was an incredible Fight!  Fight of the Ages!!!

    But I still say GGG swung it, though saying swung it in Vegas means nothing.

  3. Casanovita de Ahome 02:05pm, 09/18/2018

    @fan-You’ve got the beat….I think?!

  4. fan 01:45pm, 09/18/2018

    We should have a boxer, boxing for the judges trying to grab every rounds.

  5. Kid Blast 12:32pm, 09/18/2018

    Hmm. Rocky M would have to be a cruiserweight today, no?

    Oh yeah, who cares what Atlas thinks? He is no longer relevant.

  6. Casanovita de Ahome 11:02am, 09/18/2018

    Attention all dipshitz….a fight ” that could have gone either way” is by definition a draw! Any jackass that can do third grade math can tell how many tens are on his card going into the last round….Feldman was the only one who had the balls to do the deed! Why doesn’t someone on this site interview Teddy Atlas while he’s still hot about the fight. You just know he surfs Boxing.com….Abel Sanchez does too… that bugger has stolen some of my materiel!

  7. Lucas McCain 10:29am, 09/18/2018

    Chico—Archie went hell trying to make 175.  He followed (probably a publicity stunt) a secret diet taught him by Australian aboriginals—bascially chewing all meats for the juice, then spitting out bulk.  Glad the Moore-Ray Robinson fight never came off, though Ray almost beat Maxim.

  8. Chico Salmon 07:48am, 09/18/2018

    Can we really rank these guys as “middleweights?” Maybe we could use an asterisk in front of their names like when Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. Would these guys be capable of making 160lbs if they had to weigh in the day of the fight? Now lets picture either one of these guys fighting an Archie Moore or a Bob Foster at light heavyweight. These guys would have had to fight at light heavyweight if they were born a few decades sooner, either that or do some serious dieting. It almost seems silly ranking Golovkin in the same weight class as Hagler or Robinson, two fighters who very often weighed a few pounds shy of 160lbs.

  9. Kid Blast 07:20am, 09/18/2018

    Hmm. I suspect the 2018 Alabama Crimson Tide could beat the 1950 Cleveland Browns football team. I suspect the Champion pro basket ball teams of today could beat anything in the past and I suspect the NCAA champions might be able to do the same. Powerlifters are stronger today than ever before. Hockey and soccer teams also could beat teams of the past. This all said, the variable (weight) in boxing have remained pretty much the same so the comparisons are more difficult to make.

    I think Heavyweight is the only division where a fair comparison can be made and in that regard sixe (starting with Lennox Lewis) takes over. We now have monsters fighting on a regular basis.

    Things in athletics change—mostly for the better IMO. Thus Canelo and GGG could compete with those of the past and so could guys like Crawford, Loma, Spence, and others.

  10. Chico Salmon 06:35am, 09/18/2018

    It was a good fight, but I certainly wouldn’t even begin to compare it with Frazier and Ali’s “Fight Of The Century.” I wouldn’t even rank it above the first Pryor and Arguello scrap or even Norton vs. Holmes. It was a very good well contested fight, something that nowadays is pretty rare in boxing, but was more common on the “old days.” Not speaking as an old fart here, just calling it like I see it. Saad Muhammad’s 1980 battle with Yaqui Lopez or his 1979 scrap with Marvin Johnson were epic battles. Duran vs. Leonard I easily surpasses this bout both in terms of skill, action, and prefight anticipation. As a 57 year old man, I try not to become one of those typical old farts who claim how much better everything was in my day. Hmm, I will concede on the average women are more attractive because of being more physically fit in this day and age, cars look like shit but certainly are much better mechanically, The Deuce has vastly improved and no longer looks like Sodom and Gomorrah or early 1930’s Berlin, but that’s about it. Fighters were tougher back then, the average man was much tougher back then. The old fighters lacked the skill of modern day fighters, watching some of those old films, they often looked like women fighting, but they were hard men. I have read studies that cite each generation of men are being born with less testosterone. You have less than your father had, and he had less than his father, etc. It must be somewhat true, “soy boys,” were even rare in my day. And don’t get me started on what passes for music today. haha

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