Walker: Despite the Noise, ‘Canelo’ Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin 2 Will Go On

By Anthony Walker Mar 29, 2018
Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sherdog.com, its affiliates and sponsors or its parent company, Evolve Media.

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Immediately after the heavily hyped Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-Gennady “GGG” Golovkin showdown in September, only two things were shared by the collective combat sports community. One was a face palm inspired by the questionable optics of judge Adalaide Byrd; the other was the need to see it all again. While notable names like Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Vasyl Lomachenko have fought in the interim, all eyes have been fixed on the two middleweight champions as they were getting their ducks in a row for the inevitable rematch. When Alvarez tested positive for apparent trace amounts of the performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol, the immediate reaction was more about the uncertainty of the fight taking place than the results of the Volunteer Anti-Doping Agency’s findings. When the Nevada Athletic Commission announced a temporary suspension of Alvarez’s license last week, those concerns intensified. Did tainted meat in Alvarez’s native Mexico or intentional illicit usage prevent the guaranteed blockbuster middleweight unification bout from taking place on its current May 5 target date? Never fear, I’m writing this to assure you that the show will go on as planned.

The NAC has scheduled a hearing for Alvarez on April 18 to address the damning results. Obviously, Nevada has faced similar circumstances many times -- its label of Fight Capital of the World puts it at the forefront of the regulations -- and has therefore set a precedent for other commissions across the nation to follow. Unfortunately, one of those precedents is inconsistency. Another overarching theme has been grandstanding and worrying more about the bottom line than the fair and balanced regulation of combative sports.

The first meeting between “Canelo” and “GGG” was a huge financial success. A sellout crowd packed Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena to the tune of a $27 million gate. That was good enough to earn it the third largest amount in Nevada’s long list of boxing events. Additionally, the pay-per-view broadcast reportedly sold $1.3 million buys. When the rematch is expected to at least equal those figures, expect the NAC to act accordingly.

Nevada has repeatedly rolled over to accommodate big-money pugilism, even under dubious grounds. In December 2011, Floyd Mayweather Jr., the top draw in boxing history, pleaded guilty to a single count of misdemeanor domestic violence and no contest to two counts of harassment stemming from an incident with his former girlfriend and mother of two of his children. Despite being sentenced to 90 days in jail and having yet to begin his sentence, he was allowed to fight then WBA light middleweight champion Miguel Cotto. After all checks were cashed for the $12 million gate and 1.5 million PPV buys Mayweather served his time. Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder Conor McGregor was fined $150,000 for the infamous pre-fight press conference that saw him and Nate Diaz hurling water bottles and energy drinks at each other over a crowd of onlookers. When the Irish superstar threatened to no longer fight in the state where he holds four of the top five grossing MMA events, the commission reduced the fine to $25,000 at a later hearing. When Mayweather and McGregor collaborated to bring together last summer’s crossover event, a push to reduce the glove size against state regulations was granted to contribute to supposed scientific research. There has since been zero follow-up on this “scientific study.” Big money leads to obvious preferential treatment with the NAC.

Drug testing has been another source of incredible inconsistency with the NAC. Let’s look at the odd trifecta of what was supposed to be a UFC 175 bout between some combination of Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva. Sonnen charmed his way into a pleasant exchange with the commission, which essentially offered him a consulting job. Belfort was granted a license on the condition that his next fight take place in Nevada. While Sonnen and Belfort had respectively run afoul of drug tests with athletic commissions in the years prior, they were given slaps on the wrist. Silva, who never had any previous violations, was given a lifetime ban from the sport, though it was later reduced to three years. In addition, the NAC’s marijuana rulings have been puzzling. Nick Diaz in his third time before the commission for THC levels was given a five-year ban that was later reduced to 18 months. This took place after actually preparing a legitimate legal defense, which was dismissed without much consideration. Recently, Cynthia Calvillo was given a nine-month suspension for marijuana metabolites, three months more than UFC drug testing partner USADA handed out. Considering that commission member Anthony Marnell has significant investments in several marijuana dispensaries, the hypocrisy is ridiculous.

This is not about whether or not “Canelo” knowingly took banned substances and whether or not he should be allowed to fight on May 5. This is about how much money can be made. This is not about whether Golovkin will be facing an opponent that has enhanced himself outside of the parameters set by regulators. It’s about the money that can be made. In light of Josh Barnett’s exoneration from USADA penalties after a year and half-long battle, it isn’t even about granting Alvarez a speedy due process to ensure he isn’t unfairly withheld from making a living. It’s about the money that can be made. While there will be a hearing to determine Alvarez’s eligibility, don’t expect it to mean much. Don’t expect it to give any real clarity as to the truth behind the clenbuterol in his system. Just expect another show and another payday for the Nevada Athletic Commission.

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