Twelve patrons crowded my basement on September 16, 2017, to view one of HBO Boxing’s most memorable fights in recent years. This was the first encounter between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Gennadyevich Golovkin. With the exception of my wife, the ladies wanted the younger and more multifaceted Canelo to win, while the men cheered for the aggressive yet calculated Kazakhstan native. We all were disappointed with the outcome, but not due to the quality of the fight. Quite the contrary. The $79 PPV price was warranted, for the fight contained exemplary examples on what boxing is scored on: Ring Generalship, Clean Effective Punching, Effective Aggressiveness, and Defense. Yet, none of my guests agreed with the outcome, a draw. They believed that GGG was robbed. The mechanics of the first fight were indicative of the debated classic Leonard vs. Hagler; a true HBO Boxing classic. GGG was able to get into a comfortable rhythm faster than Hagler, nonetheless, the slow start allowed Canelo to steal early rounds, as Leonard did in the 1987 bout. This HBOWatch writer and boxing aficionado hypothesizes that the September 15 rematch is critical to HBO’s programming slate.
Originally the rematch was to take place this past Cinco de Mayo weekend. However, with Canelo testing positive for the sports banned performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol, the fight was postponed indefinitely. I had to announce to my invitees that the originally slated Cinco de Mayo fight party was canceled. Although Loeffler and HBO successfully found a replacement fighter and drew respectable viewership, nothing memorable transpired. GGG vs. Martirosyan Vanes went two rounds before Vanes was bombarded with punches with power that he never felt. The aforementioned was directly from Vanes, in a post-fight HBO interview. Canelo’s camp is adamant that the clenbuterol was a result of tainted beef. This is a suspect explanation, but not entirely impossible, because the substance has been found in trace amounts in Mexican and Central American red meat. GGG’s camp released a clever and hilarious Nike Air Jordan advertisement, that called the explanation utter balderdash.
The tumultuous events following the September 2017 match between the two prizefighters, consisted of back and forth contract negotiations and the never tired onslaught of trash talking. The state of HBO’s coverage of middleweight professional boxing is in an abeyant state. Certainly, other matches between fighters at the 160lb middleweight limit could be made. But since the retirement of future hall-of-famer and occasional HBO boxing analyst Andre’ Ward, the only other HBO signed formidable fighter at 160lbs is Daniel Jacobs. Showtime Boxing and its parent company CBS, have a smorgasbord of match possibilities across all weight divisions. Many boxing pundits believe that Showtime Boxing has showcased the superior fights, for the past five years. Although mega fights (i.e. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao/Tyson vs. Holyfield I&II) have been jointly covered by both premium cable networks, the contractual obstacles keep many potentially stellar fights, from ever seeing the light of day.
Canelo vs. GGG II is the fight that the boxing realm needs for business and the sake of the sport. GGG’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, has a potentially sound line-up of rising fighters. Even is GGG loses, Loeffler’s 360 Promotions banner would be elevated by an exciting second battle on HBO pay-per-view. As HBO scrambles to find its next flagship show after the conclusion of GoT (Westworld is close but no cigar), HBO Boxing is looking for matches that will echo the Ali, Tyson, and Mayweather eras.
No matter if it was accidental, or intentional, Canelo is the most prominent prizefighter to have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and must redeem himself with an intense but controversy free rematch. Due to the stormy and jaded back and forth negotiations, there will be limited marketing and coverage; which advertising its content is HBO’s bread and butter. Not even the highly personal face-off with HBO analyst Max Kellerman, or a single 24/7 segment will air. Nonetheless, the stage is set for another exciting PPV event. Excitement. Debate. Unpredictability. This is HBO Boxing.
About The Author
Travlis is a government contractor, Naval reservist, and aficionado of film, premium television, and literature. A viewer of HBO for nearly three decades, Travlis just completed the first draft an outline and script for a documentary titled "On a Dark and Stormy Night". The intentionally cliché’ title serves as a double entendre’. For Home Box Office aired its first wave of programming on November 8, 1972, during a thunderstorm, and the premium cable giant‘s nearly five decade run of quality programming is anything but cliché’.