After a deal was made for unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez to meet on May 5 in a rematch of their heavily disputed draw last September, the fighters and their promoters pulled out all the stops at an elaborate outdoor news conference/fan rally in downtown Los Angeles to kick off the promotion.
TV star Mario Lopez, a huge boxing fan, was one of the emcees. Famed ring announcer Michael Buffer introduced the fighters as music blared as though they were walking into the ring rather than just a stage. And eventually the pugilists came face to face for the traditional staredown and photo opportunity.
Of course, the rematch did not take place as planned. It was canceled when Alvarez twice tested positive for the banned performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol in February and was suspended for six months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The fighters, once with big respect for each other, traded harsh words and made renegotiating the terms to put the rematch back together about as pleasant as a root canal.
Finally, the deal was made for the rematch to take place on Sept. 15 (HBO PPV, 8 p.m. ET) at the same venue as the first fight, T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. But neither fighter was interested in seeing each other face to face until fight week so there was no overblown media conference with all the bell and whistles.
There was none of that on Tuesday. No fun, no excitement and no photo opp.
That's because instead of a face-to-face encounter to continue to rev up fans and media for the rematch, they conducted a low-key satellite news conference that had all the energy of a trigonometry lecture. The fighters looked as though they might doze off at any moment.
"We already got the tour and we already got the promotion," Alvarez said. "[Meeting face to face] wasn't necessary for this one. But I'll see him very soon."
Alvarez, promoter Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions, trainers Eddie and Chepo Reynoso and Golden Boy matchmaker Robert Diaz were at Alvarez's gym in Guadalajara, Mexico. Golovkin, promoter Tom Loeffler, trainer Abel Sanchez and a translator were stationed at Sanchez's gym in Big Bear Lake, California. And ESPN Deportes commentator Mauricio Pedroza peppered everyone with questions from a Los Angeles studio in a valiant effort to get everyone fired up.
But based on the disinterest level displayed by GGG and Canelo, it's going to be a long two months until the fight because neither had much to say. Only the feisty Sanchez tried to get under Alvarez's skin by continuing to accuse him of running from Golovkin in the fight last fall.
"I think that on the 15th when Oscar and Canelo are having breakfast, Oscar needs to remind him he needs to bring his courage to the venue that night because he's going to need it," Sanchez said. "If he intends to knock out Golovkin, he's going to have to fight him. And if he fights him, he's going to get knocked out. I said that before; he would have gotten knocked out the first time, but he decided to make it a track meet that night.
"But if he comes to fight and if he comes to knock out Golovkin, as he said he's going to -- if he doesn't defraud the fans again -- then he's going to get knocked out. I've said it and I'll say it again."
Alvarez's response: "I did my fight. I did what I set out to do. I did what I trained to do, but I did a great fight. But on Sept. 15, I'm going to do the necessary adjustments and the necessary things to win. This man [Sanchez] just likes to talk. He likes to talk a lot and bring up every excuse possible, but you'll see on Sept. 15 what Canelo Alvarez is all about and what he's capable of doing."
The fighters continued to say they don't respect each other right now after everything that has happened, though GGG left the door open for that to change.
"That little respect that I had or that we had, it's been lost," Alvarez said. "They disrespected me for everything they have been saying, everything they have been doing, all their actions. Now it's different. It's personal."
Said Golovkin: "I think Canelo's team, by doing what they did, and they lost some respect from their fans, but it's not important. I do have respect to all the fighters, all the athletes, all the champions who fight at this level, and I think at the very end, we will find a way to shake each other's hand, regardless what the outcome, regardless what we think before the fight. As two men, we should be able to stand against each other and shake each other's hand at the end."
Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs), 27, refused to discuss his drug suspension when asked about it.
"The reason for the cancellation, we all talked about that. The main thing is the fight got here, the fight got done," he said. "I did it for the fans. This is the fight you wanted to see and, come Sept. 15, I can assure you it will be a much better fight than what you would have seen in May."
Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs), 36, who was extremely vocal about Alvarez's positive drug tests when they were revealed, said virtually nothing about them when asked Tuesday.
"I was disappointed and the fans were disappointed that the May 5 bout didn't happen, but right now everybody is happy that we all agreed to have this next fight on Sept. 15," said Golovkin, who knocked out replacement opponent Vanes Martirosyan in the second round on May 5.
About as fiery as Alvarez got was when he was asked if he had seen GGG's fight with Martirosyan. He had.
"You can't call that a fight. You have no opponent," he said. "That's not my level of opponent. I didn't pay attention as far as that being a fight."
Golovkin was due to get the short end of a 65-35 revenue split when the rematch was scheduled for May, but when they renegotiated he demanded 50-50 before eventually dropping it to 55-45, which he held out for until Golden Boy gave in.
The fight was saved by what Golden Boy president Eric Gomez described as a "Hail Mary that was caught." It turned out to be De La Hoya going into his own pocket to make up the difference in Alvarez's money while allowing Golovkin to have 45 percent.
"Well, that was the big 'Hail Mary,'" De La Hoya said. "We can talk about percentages and this and that, but there was a few things that I had to throw in myself. But the bottom line is Canelo has the bigger piece of the pie. He's the draw. He's the one that brings in the people. This fight had to be made because we didn't want to experience another [Marvin] Hagler-[Thomas] Hearns or Hagler-Sugar Ray Leonard because we didn't see the second fight. We didn't want to be like [Felix] Trinidad and myself, where we didn't see the second fight. So this fight had to take place.
"The first time was a draw and finally we have it. Sept. 15 will be such an important day for boxing. I strongly feel that the way this fight is going to turn out, the fans are going to be extremely happy, extremely proud and boxing will once again rise to the pinnacle of where it should be."
Near the end of the program, Golovkin was asked if he had anything to say to Alvarez.
"I want to tell him that we should be ready for the fight," he said. "I think we should both be in the best shape for this fight."
Asked if he had anything to say to GGG, Alvarez was succinct.
"Nothing," he said. "We'll see you Sept. 15."