This Saturday, Canelo vs. Rocky is on at Madison Square Garden. The fighters arrived in town today for fight week activities. Let’s be clear here, this isn’t a fight anyone was clamoring for, or even expected. Yet, there are some compelling story lines and undercurrents blowing in the cold New York City wind. Here are five things to know about Canelo Alvarez vs. Rocky Fielding.
1. It’s About the Contract
Fresh off a big, yet controversial win over Gennady Golovkin, Canelo is getting back into the ring a mere three months later. Why the rush? Answers spun to the press are that Canelo likes to fight and he wants to stay active. Yet, scuttlebutt is this is about what we’ll call “the contract”. A $365 million, 11 fight, five year deal, that is the biggest in sports history. It’s also one his benefactors likely want to begin seeing early and safe returns on. So why not tick off one of those 11 required fights with a tune up of sorts.
2. It’s About Location, Location, Location
Through 50 fights Canelo has yet to fight in the “Mecca of Boxing” – Madison Square Garden. It’s an honor every fighter wants to have on their resume. Who wouldn’t want to see themselves on that video below someday. Also, in Canelo’s case, its about building his brand. This means taking the show on the road. So, the tour begins, a similar strategy used by Golovkin.
3. It’s a Test for Boxing
Like many other sports boxing is being disrupted. It’s anchor tenant HBO Boxing is no more. In its wake new platforms and outlets are looking to take market share. Showtime remains in its traditional form of cable tv and pay-per-view, ESPN is also on cable but venturing into streaming and then there is the new kid on the block DAZN looking to make a splash in the sport with Canelo as one of its franchise players. Post-fight numbers we be telling if the experiment works from a business perspective and more importantly for the good of the sport and it’s fans.
4. It’s About Making History
Should Canelo win (and let’s be clear he likely will), Canelo will have made a piece of boxing history by becoming only the ninth Mexican fighter to hold titles in three divisions. No small feat given the long and storied history of boxing in Mexico.
5. If Canelo Is Not Careful It Could Be About Fielding
As we note in #4, Canelo will likely win. Yet, let’s not forget, he’s fighting rather quickly after tough fight with Golovkin. He’s moving up a division, facing a way taller opponent in Rocky Fielding. Speaking of Fielding, he is no slouch. He is a world champion and has respectable 27-1 record. While Canelo is traditionally a focused fighter who doesn’t look beyond the opponent in front of him the aforementioned seem to indicate this is a bit of rushed production, which could lead to unintended consequences. And if you’re the superstitious type, Canelo’s opponent is named “Rocky”, if he’s not careful he may channel some that Philly underdog spirit on the 15th.