By Mauricio Sulaimán – Son of José Sulaimán & President of the WBC
A week after the fight which concluded the sports rivalry between Canelo and GGG, and after analyzing the reactions of the fans and the media, I have tried to put my thoughts in order. I stepped outside the ring to see things from a different perspective and thus understand the many comments about this fight.
Boxing is unique in many ways; what is true is that the criticism of the fan is the strictest and most severe of all sports. Almost all of us have played soccer at least once at school, football, basketball, tennis, baseball, volleyball, and an infinity of others, but how many of us have boxed? You can’t play boxing, simple as that.
Anyone who has ever trained in boxing, who has put on gloves for three minutes, throwing blows at a punching bag, knows what a single round represents, and even so when you don’t have someone in front of you trying to rip your head off.
How many times have I heard my own friends yell at a boxer to throw punches, to do this and that and so much more? I always answer them back, “I would love to see you up there inside the ring, my friend.”
Within my analysis, I took a few sports to understand why when a fight is more technical and tactical, rather than shocking and emotional, it causes the fans to feel disappointed.
Let’s look at FOOTBALL, the NFL and the famous Super Bowl. This game is the culmination of a season, where 32 teams sought to be champions. In that game everything is on the line; to be champion, earn extra money and have the glory for life by getting the coveted ring. Millions of people wait for that day with great enthusiasm for a whole year, families and friends get together, barbecues, chili, nachos, wings, beer, tequila, costumes and a whole great party. We all hope to see a great game full of emotions and that memories are generated for life.
Let’s look at some Super Bowl results:
2021. Tampa Bay 31-9 Kansas City. A game in which it was expected to see the explosiveness of Pat Mahomes having Tom Brady on the other sideline, a dream match. Well, it was an easy game for the Bucs, the defense dominated completely and the Buccaneers were crowned.
2019. Patriots 13-3 Rams. Another game where the Los Angeles Rams offense was expected to explode as it had all season, while Brady and the Patriots were predicted to score big with spectacular plays. Well, that did not happen, the strategy won that night, the defense dominated, and despite the game being always within reach of the Rams, it did not generate emotions for those who enjoy seeing spectacular scoring and plays. Brady simply did what was needed to win without risking anything.
2014. Seattle 43-8 Denver. I vividly remember how the Broncos were heavy favorites with Payton Manning as quarterback, but what happened? The Seahawks’ defense nullified them and beat them in a duel that by the second half the destination was already defined and the result was imminent.
These are three examples, and believe me, there are many more Super Bowls that turned out to be very different from the expectations that the fans had before the game.
We all want to experience the emotions like when Brady came back from a 28-3 at halftime to beat Atlanta in overtime, or when Philadelphia pulled off an upset and beat Brady’s Patriots in a game; I think the point is clear. The expectations created by the emotion of the fans and the media themselves are so great that the event itself often fails to fulfill them.
In BASEBALL, the World Series is the culmination of a long season of 162 games for each team. The champion of the National League faces the American League champion, as well as in the Super Bowl. We all hope to see close games, full of emotions, home runs, spectacular catches, and obviously, that it will not be defined until the seventh game, because in this sport, the World Series is won by the team that wins four games first. We’d all like to see a Game 7 that ends with a bases loaded home run in the last inning, with three balls, two strikes and two outs.
In the last 30 years, half of the World Series have ended in four games to none or four to one. Half! In other words, the matches have been easily defined, demonstrating the superiority of one team over the other.
How about the World Cup? France 3-0 Brazil (France 1998), Germany beat Argentina 1-0, with a last-minute penalty (Brazil 2014), or Brazil beat Italy on penalties after a boring 0-0, at USA 1994.
I think my point has already been established. The expectations of the fans, fed by the great media coverage of a great event, generates dreams and expectations that are not always fulfilled in these magnanimous events.
Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez won the third fight against Gennady Golovkin by a clear unanimous decision, and in general, he completely dominated the Kazakh. GGG actually did very little in the first seven or eight rounds. Canelo completely dominated him and won all those rounds, hands down. Álvarez did what was necessary to win, just as Tom Brady did not take any unnecessary risk, because his strategy worked and nullified GGG. As simple as that, it was a much more technical and tactical fight than the other two.
The problem is that the promotion ”sold” a war to the public, an emotional fight in which both would go out to beat each other mercilessly. Canelo repeatedly said that he was going to knock him out and retire him; GGG goaded the Mexican on multiple occasions. As they had already fought 24 very good rounds with excellent action, we all hoped that his words would come true and that a boxing war would be seen.
Boxing is about styles and strategy. Golovkin did not force the action for many rounds of the fight, and that is why the fight took that course. GGG closed strong, attacked and was successful against a Canelo who looked tired, cut on one eyebrow by an accidental head butt, and also with an injured wrist that will require surgery. The end came, and Canelo closed this chapter with a clear and forceful victory after a technical fight, not an emotional one.
Julio César Chávez never spoke, never responded to the attacks of his opponents, such as Edwin Rosario, Macho Camacho or Greg Haugen. He went up to the ring, and with his fists he silenced them and defeated them. Today we live in a different era in which many times promoters, and boxers themselves, fuel social media to cause expectations in the public and thus promote their event.
Canelo will take a well-deserved rest, his wrist will have surgery, and he will surely return next year to continue his career. Alvarez is simply the most important fighter in the world and he always proudly puts his flag at the top. Congratulations, champion!
Did you know…?
There have been a good number of fights that, as well as Canelo vs. GGG III, did not fulfill what was expected. De la Hoya vs. Trinidad; Mayweather vs. Canelo, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, Tyson vs. Tucker, which other one do you remember?
I am writing this column sitting here in the house of my cousins Gil and Nancy in Monterrey. We are at the wedding after a beautiful celebration of the union of her daughter, and her now husband.
The buffet of typical northern food is crazy! Pork roast, chicharrón in green sauce, “poisoned” beans (pork butter), shredded and beef barbecue; all with gorditas, corn and flour tortillas. How Don José enjoyed visiting his “ranch”! My maternal grandmother, Baldramina, waited for the days for my parents to arrive in Ciudad Victoria to cook for them. “My dear Mother-in-Law, can you give me that pork roast just as you prepare it? That tortilla put on the plate and the pork roast on top, to end up eating the tortilla all soaked in the fat. Obviously, it started with one and in the end … there were six or seven tortillas on his plate!
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