Canelo Alvarez is only 24. | Photo: HBO Boxing
Oscar De La Hoya couldn’t help but cringe Saturday night. With the world watching what was supposed to be a fight, instead was entertained more by a segment of “Dancing With The Stars,” which is what the so-called “Fight of the Century” between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao evolved into.
De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions, can only hope that Mayweather-Pacquiao didn't turn off fans. If they want to see two real fighters go at it, then Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland will be worth tuning in this Saturday night on HBO from Houston’s sold-out Minute Maid Park.
This will be the first fight for the 24-year-old Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KOs) on HBO. The 31-year-old Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs), a southpaw, has not fought since he stopped Glen Tapia in the sixth round in December 2013.
Alvarez and Kirkland are scheduled to meet at a 155-pound catch-weight contest.
De La Hoya cannot wait.
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“Sorry boxing fans and I’m just not into the boxing, running style. I like jumping out of my seat because a fight was exciting and the fans got their money’s worth,” De La Hoya tweeted after Mayweather beat Pacquiao in a mundane 12-round decision from Las Vegas.
“Any war that we’ve seen in the ring is what we’re going to see between Canelo and Kirkland,” De La Hoya said. “It’s no secret that Kirkland hits like a mule, and Canelo has desired a toe-to-toe action fight, coming off fights like Mayweather and [Austin] Trout, and Erislandy Lara. He wants to have someone who will fight him, and it will be an exciting fight.”
De La Hoya said he crossed his fingers and hoped that Mayweather-Pacquiao was going to be an exciting fight, for the sake of boxing. His fear was that the casual boxing fan would tune in, with no frame of reference to what a real fight is about, and get lost -- and bored -- by Mayweather’s defensive style.
Regrettably, De La Hoya was right. Mayweather-Pacquiao was a borefest. It could have had many first-time boxing viewers scratching their heads and wondering what the hell they just saw.
With Alvarez-Kirkland, there may not be any time to blink. Both are fan-friendly fighters who like to engage and can smell blood from the dressing room.
“Mayweather-Pacquiao was supposed to be a classic matchup, with back-and-forth action, and we didn’t get that,” De La Hoya said. “It didn’t provide action, so you can sure see fireworks between Kirkland and Alvarez. It’s a candidate for fight of the year. Both guys have power, and whoever lands first can win the fight. It’s going to be an event, but more importantly, it’s going to be a fun fight.”
De La Hoya feels this fight won’t go the distance, because there is too much firepower in one ring.
Kirkland has wanted Alvarez for some time. Alvarez has compensating to do. The Mayweather loss still stings him.
“Kirkland has a relentless style, and if we see that Kirkland, it could be a long night for Canelo,” De La Hoya said. “Canelo, who hasn’t fought in nine months, is faster and he’s more a thinker than Kirkland.
“Canelo has more to lose in this fight. On May 2, we saw the past in Mayweather and Pacquiao. Now we’re seeing the future in Canelo. That’s a lot of pressure for a 24-year-old. But he can handle it. We lose track that Canelo is only 24. If you ask me, he took the Mayweather fight too soon. He wants to be great. There’s no shame in that. In this Mayweather era, fighters tend to fight more for the prize, instead of the pride. Canelo wants to bring that pride attitude back.
“He’s still disappointed that he lost to Mayweather. He took that fight out of pride. He wanted to fight the best. That’s something that still sticks in his ribs. I feel that down the road, Canelo will avenge that loss. When Mayweather runs out of opponents, he’ll have to fight Canelo again. Canelo used the wrong game plan. He knows that now. He shows no fear. It’s why this fight between Canelo and Kirkland will be action packed.”
Joseph Santoliquito is the president of the Boxing Writer's Association of America and a frequent contributor to Sherdog.com's mixed martial arts and boxing coverage. His archive can be found here.
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