In a span of thirty days boxing will have the finalists for the “next big star” sweepstakes. With Floyd Mayweather Jr announcing his retirement after his last fight in September and Manny Pacquiao talking about salt, prayers and God as well as retirement, boxing is in dire straits for that fighter that will capture our imagination.
By all accounts or at least by the wishes of the World Boxing Council, better known as the WBC, a tournament is in the works to figure out who that will be. On October 17th the first unofficial semi-final will take place at the Madison Square Garden in New York City when Gennady “GGG” Golovkin takes on French Canadian David Lemieux in a middleweight face-off. Both champion and both knock out artists, the fight promises nothing but fireworks.
The fight also marks the first time that Golovkin is featured in the main event of a Pay-Per-View. It has been years in the making. HBO has invested considerably in the man from Kazahkstan while his promoter, K2, has made all the right moves including promoting him on both coasts of the country. With that Golovkin has picked up the most important fan base in the sport, the Mexicans. Say what you will but Mexicans as well as Puerto Ricans support their fighters like no other and because of his unapologetic aggressive style, Mexicans have fallen in love with “GGG”.
About thirty days later on November 21st, a powder keg of action will explode at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas when the two biggest fan bases in the sport clash in support of their fighters WBC middleweight champion Miguel Cotto and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. According to the WBC the winner must face the winner of Golovkin and Lemieux sometime next year for their 160-pound title and in a sense the title of the “next big star”.
Obviously the favorites here are Golovkin and Alvarez. Lemieux has the power and the confidence but not the skill to beat “GGG” while Cotto has the skill but not the power or speed to topple the younger “Canelo”. If it goes according to the unwritten plan, in 2016 we will see a super-mega fight between Golovkin and Alvarez. The “next big star” is between a red-headed Mexican with most of nation behind him and man from a country that not many boxing fans can point at on a map.
Alvarez has been a star for many years despite not reaching his twenty-fifth birthday yet. He has proven to be a ticket seller and a respectable Pay-Per-View. Golovkin is making in-roads with a recent spot featuring him promoting the Apple watch. Do they have enough charisma, skill and star-potential to take the baton from Mayweather Jr and Pacquiao? That will remain to be seen but first they must beat their respective opponents before the end of the year and then face each other.
There is no other potential rivalry in the sport that is bigger than this. It’s just a matter of time.