Will Canelo-GGG take place at AT&T Stadium?
May 9, 2017
LAS VEGAS – Boxing can make even its most loyal fans feel bipolar. Last weekend fans were witness to a huge boxing event in Las Vegas on Cinco de Mayo weekend that featured Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) defeating Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (50-3-1, 32 KOs) in a relatively dull one-sided affair. The card started off well enough with Lucas Matthysse (38-4, 35 KOs) making his return to the ring and taking out Emanuel Taylor (20-5, 14 KOs) in the fifth round. The mood shifted in the main event to disappointment, and a reign of boos cascaded the arena as Chavez Jr. did nothing more than survive against Canelo.
It turned out that Canelo-Chavez Jr. was not the real main event of the night. The mood was again changed as a fight between Alvarez and middleweight kingpin Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) was announced to take place this September 16th. It is the biggest fight that can be made in the sport of boxing. Moreover, unlike Mayweather-Pacquiao both fighters will be in their prime. Now that the fight is official the attention turns to where the fight will take place. There are many suitors for the location of the fight and money will be the biggest factor as to where it ends up.
Two years ago the most financially successful boxing event took place in Mayweather-Pacquiao. This fight took place at the MGM Grand and made a record $72 million at the live gate and sold 4.6 million in PPV sales. While the finances for that fight were record breaking, the event did everything it could to keep real boxing fans closed out. Tickets for the event were made available only nine days before the fight. Of the 16,219 tickets sold only 500 were provided to the public. Brokers, the MGM Grand, Top Rank, and Mayweather Promotions took up the rest. The fight itself was massively disappointing. However, the event itself with virtually no undercard left fans with buyer’s remorse. Canelo-Golovkin will undoubtedly be the more entertaining bout, but it also has the chance to be a real event that lives up to expectations.
The first step in doing so would be to stage the fight in a venue that would bring in the most fans. Last month, Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs) and Wladimir Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs) set the blueprint by fighting in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in a fight that exceeded expectations. It was a financial success becoming the richest fight to have taken place on British Soil selling over 1.5 million in PPV sales. More importantly, the fight was critically praised, as Joshua-Klitschko was the best heavyweight championship bout to take place since the turn of the century.
It is highly probable that Canelo-Golovkin occurs in the United States. The perfect venue to stage a massive event like Canelo-Golovkin is at the famed AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. This venue is no stranger to boxing as just last year Alvarez fought there against Liam Smith (25-1-1, 14 KOs), a virtual unknown in the U.S., and brought in over 50,000 fans to the stadium. In 2010, Manny Pacquiao fought twice at the Stadium against Joshua Clottey (39-5, 22 KOs) and Antonio Margarito (40-8, 27 KOs). Both fights had over 40,000 fans in attendance.
Events like WrestleMania and the Super Bowl have taken place at the stadium bringing in over 100,000 in attendance. The record for the highest attended event to be held at AT&T Stadium is the 2010 NBA All-Star Game that had 108,731 in attendance. With proper promotion and ticket pricing, Canelo-Golovkin can have over 100,000 fans in attendance. The promoters of the event, Golden Boy Promotions, and K2 will have to be willing to make less than Mayweather-Pacquiao at the live gate. Events that have taken place at the stadium that have sold over 100,000 in attendance like WrestleMania made less than $20 million at the live gate.
It goes without saying that both Canelo and Golovkin have an enormous Hispanic fan base. The fight taking place in Texas with a large Mexican-American population will give the event a greater chance of selling out. There are other suitors for Canelo-Golovkin as places like the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Wembley Stadium in the U.K., Azteca Stadium in Mexico, Madison Square Garden, and Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena will all bid for the fight.
Golovkin has sold out Madison Square Garden twice, and Canelo has fought in the T-Mobile Arena twice with last week’s bout with Chavez Jr. having a record 20,510 in attendance. Canelo-Golovkin would likely set a boxing event record if it takes place at Azteca Stadium as over 132,000 were in attendance to see Julio Cesar Chavez pummel Greg Haugen in five rounds in 1993.
Canelo-Golovkin was announced at the T-Mobile Arena and for some that may be a sign that the fight is likely to take place there or at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Boxing website boxrec.com has the fight currently listed as taking place in Las Vegas.
Still, even with its many suitors, the best fit for Canelo-Golovkin is at the AT&T Stadium. It seems destined to take place there with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboy’s playing on the road on the week of September 16th. Golden Boy Promotions President Eric Gomez and K2 Promotions’ Tom Loeffler spoke with the L.A. Times regarding the location of Canelo-Golovkin.
Gomez, also reported that Alvarez as the clear A-side in the promotion would be the only fighter of the two that would be able to enact a rematch clause. It will be up for debate if this says anything about Golden Boy's confidence in Alvarez.
The two combatants that step in the squared circle deserve the most respect and the lion’s share of the revenue generated. Therefore, the fight will take place at the entity that can provide the highest financial incentive. However, Canelo-Golovkin is bigger than just the two men that will share the ring.
It is an opportunity for boxing to climb back permanently into the mainstream consciousness by delivering on an event and its expectations. For those fans and members of the media who have sacrificed by purchasing tickets, buying PPV’s, booking flights and hotels, this fight can show the rest of the world why they became fans in the first place. For one night and one event, boxing can be more than just a niche sport.
(Feature Photo: Ed Mulholland/HBO Sports)