by Kieran Mulvaney
As he climbed the stairs, Gennady Golovkin spied Adonis Stevenson and made a beeline directly for him, prompting onlookers to hold their collective breath. Then the middleweight champion smiled, the light heavyweight title holder extended his hand, and the two men hugged and posed for photos.
Also posing for photos were Ruslan Provodnikov and Mike Alvarado, two junior welterweights who on October 19 will be swapping furious punches, but on this evening were breaking bread over dinner with several of their fellow pugilists.
The following day, Stevenson walked onto a Hollywood sound stage just as Mikey Garcia was preparing to leave. “You’re going to have fun,” the undefeated former featherweight champ said through a smile. “I hope you like getting wet.”
As he said that, the halls echoed with the sounds of Provodnikov bellowing "Champion!" while posing beneath a simulated rain shower. Terence Crawford and Yuriorkis Gamboa took turns jumping rope for the camera, while on the next stage, Juan Manuel Marquez worked a heavybag as shutters clicked.
Such was the scene at a studio space in Hollywood this week during a promotional shoot to showcase the latest class of HBO boxing talent ahead of a packed fall and winter schedule of fights. And when the boxers weren’t being put through their paces by the photo and video teams, they were sitting down for interviews. HBO Latino was on site. So was ESPN. And so was HBO.com, taking the opportunity to enjoy some quiet time with the cream of the network’s boxing talent.
Stevenson shared with us just how much his late trainer, Emanuel Steward, meant to him. Nonito Donaire revealed that he is learning to play the piano and spending more time pursuing his childhood love of painting. Provodnikov explained how boxing saved his life, and discussed his love of Russian poetry. Gamboa revealed a spiritual side to his personality that he admitted might be a surprise to fans and detractors alike. Both Crawford and Golovkin told us they love to fish. Garcia explained that, despite growing up in a boxing family, his involvement in and embrace of the sport happened relatively late in life. Alvarado smiled as he described his desire to “excite the world.”
The theme of the promotion – which will air later this year – is an invitation to scratch the superficial surface and explore what lies beneath. The fighters themselves—all consummate mensches— helped make that happen during the shoot, as they opened up and shared their thoughts on boxing and life. The result will be a series of blogs and features that we will run over the coming weeks and months, as the boxing schedule kicks into high gear. In the meantime, enjoy this gallery of behind-the-scenes photos, to give you a sense of the atmosphere as HBO’s boxing stars invaded Hollywood.