HBO Sports presents an intimate video portrait of the Sept. 16 pay-per-view clash between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin for the world middleweight championship. HBO Sports cameras and microphones captured behind-the-scenes sights and sounds plus in-ring action to tell the story of the thrilling fight from sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
HBO Boxing Insider Kieran Mulvaney reports from the Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. final press conference in Las Vegas.
David Lemieux and Curtis Stevens weighed in ahead of their middleweight bout.
Lemieux vs. Stevens happens Saturday, March 11 live on HBO beginning at 11pm ET/PT.
Photos: Ed Mulholland/K2 Promotions
By Matt Draper
NEW YORK -- For top middleweights Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Daniel “The Miracle Man” Jacobs, who on March 18 will step into the ring at Madison Square Garden to battle for the unified middleweight title on HBO pay-per-view, facing off at the “World’s Most Famous Arena” for division supremacy represents the biggest and most difficult fight of their impressive careers.
“[This is] the best matchup … the best opponent … the best place,” said Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) at Tuesday’s press conference at MSG, standing at a podium in front of a lowered jumbotron flashing his fight highlights. “I promise you’ll have an amazing show.”
Golovkin, who will put his four middleweight titles on the line, is no stranger to MSG. The 34-year-old knockout artist from Kazakhstan has fought in the building four times since 2013, using The Garden to build his KO streak (23 and counting) and develop into one of the most dangerous boxers in the world.
But fighting Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs), who is widely viewed as both a skilled boxer and fighter, will likely be the toughest test of GGG’s career thus far.
“I believe Daniel is ready for this fight,” Golovkin said. “[It’s the] biggest step for us.”
Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez also recognized the challenge that Jacobs presents.
“I would say he’s probably the best fighter we will have fought to date,” Sanchez told reporters on Tuesday. “A better amateur, great right hand, good boxing IQ. Danny is smart. He’s going to be a big threat to us.”
For Brooklyn’s Jacobs, 29, the hometown showdown versus one of boxing's best has been a lifetime in the making. Jacobs captured New York Golden Gloves titles at MSG as an amateur, climbed the pro ranks with multiple fights in the New York metro area and, despite being forced to take a 19-month hiatus from the sport in 2011 to overcome bone cancer, has steadily continued his ascent to the top tier of the middleweight division.
“This is the fight I’ve always wanted,” Jacobs said. “This is the pinnacle as far as opponents. I have to shock the world and I have to let them know that I am the best.
“If I’m 100 percent mentally and physically prepared, there’s going to be a new undisputed middleweight champion of the world,” continued Jacobs. “My fists are really going to do the talking inside that ring.”
While the outcome of the fight is far from certain, it stands to reason that it will involve big blows and may not go the distance; Golovkin and Jacobs have a combined 35 consecutive knockouts, with both coming off fights that ended by the fifth round.
“With two guys going into the ring with a 90 percent KO ratio,” said Sanchez, “it’s fair to say that someone is going out.”
Photos: Ed Mulholland
By Kieran Mulvaney
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Joe Smith’s promoter meant well. Joe DeGuardia, the President and CEO of Star Boxing, introduced his boxer at Wednesday’s final pre-fight press conference by describing him as not only the most dangerous fighter that Bernard Hopkins could take on, but also by underlining his blue-collar bona fides. His craft now might be as a boxer, but he is a hardworking union member, DeGuardia said, before making the comment on which Hopkins would pounce.
“Joe Smith is the perfect example of the common man,” he said, and on Saturday night, “you’re going to see what happens when the common working man breaks his hump every day and defeats a legend.” Hopkins, who throughout his 28-year-career has never been short of words, zeroed in on one of DeGuardia’s.
“I want you to get your phone and look up ‘common’ in the dictionary,” he began. He pointed to Smith. “Common man,” he spat before pointing to himself. “Special man. Which one do you want? Which one do you want? I want the special. If you want to work your way back down to common man, there's a lot of people down there.”
He didn’t, he insisted, wish an ill future on his opponent in Saturday’s contest. “I don’t want to wish a Kelly Pavlik on him,” Hopkins asserted, referring to the once-promising middleweight and light-heavyweight, for whom defeat to Hopkins began a process of decline that culminated in a disappearance from the sport and reported problems with alcohol. “I'm not going to predict that I end his career. One day if he recovers mentally then he might have something to salvage and go forward. I'm a career-stopper to most of my opponents that talk like him. Yes, I'm honored to be respected as Joe mentioned, too. I listen to words. Nobody is really paying attention to Joe.”
Hopkins has been a world champion or title holder, on and off, for fully 21 years now, and his head games have been as much a factor in his success as his considerable boxing skill. Sometimes, those games have taken him close to the very edge: throwing a Puerto Rican flag to the ground in front of 10,000 baying fans in Roberto Clemente Stadium in 2001 almost cost him his life, but it also increased the immense pressure on Felix Trinidad, who ultimately buckled and succumbed to Hopkins’ ring mastery on a legendary night in New York City. For many years, Hopkins called himself “The Executioner” – a persona he will be unwrapping one more time for the final fight of his career on Saturday – and as well as wearing a mask to the ring, that persona frequently entailed his serving his foe a “final meal” (generally, rice and beans) at press conferences.
Most of the time, his prefight pressure worked; whether it will have any bearing on Smith remains to be seen. The 27-year-old from Long Island has been an afterthought in the promotion of this fight, which has focused on it being the conclusion of the 51-year-old Hopkins’ life as a professional boxer. Prefight taunts will only get a person so far, however, unless they can back it up in the ring; and for all of Hopkins’ phenomenal achievements in the squared circle -- and his almost supernatural ability to fend off Father Time -- he is just one month shy of his 52nd birthday, a patently absurd age to be a professional pugilist. It is entirely possible that his farewell bout will prove one step too far; that, as well as the relatively youthful Smith’s apparent advantage in one-punch knockout power, makes Saturday’s contest a more intriguing affair than a look at the two men’s respective résumés might suggest.
Hopkins, however, was in no doubt how it all would end.
“Joe won't be special come Saturday,” he said. “He will stay common.”
Weights from Inglewood:
Bernard Hopkins: 174 pounds | Joe Smith Jr.: 174 pounds
Joseph Diaz: 126 pounds | Horacio Garcia: 125.8 pounds
Oleksandr Usyk: 199.6 pounds | Thabiso Mchunu: 198.6 pounds
HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney recap Terence Crawford's dominant victory over John Molina Jr. on Saturday, Dec. 10.
Photos: Ed Mullholland
By Kieran Mulvaney
Brandon Rios began fight week by suggesting that, were he to lose to Mike Alvarado in the third fight of their trilogy in Broomfield, Colorado on Saturday night, he would have to seriously consider retiring. He ended it standing on the turnbuckle, pounding his chest and screaming to the ringside media “I’m back! I’m back!” Meanwhile, Alvarado sat slumped on his stool, battered and beaten after three rounds before referee Jay Nady called a halt to the contest prior to the bell sounding to mark the start of the fourth.
Boxing is the cruelest of sports at the best of times, exposing even its most successful practitioners to the kind of punishment that no other athlete would even contemplate having to endure; over the course of a career, the physical and mental beatings of multiple battles can exact a terrible toll, and the determination of all too many fighters to keep seeking that final elusive victory means that far too many careers, however successful at their peak, end in sad defeat. And the flip side to Rios’ dramatic and dominant victory is that Alvarado, a warrior who has never shirked a challenge, found himself booed by his hometown crowd for his capitulation.
Almost as sad as the brutality of his beating was the fact that, though the fight itself was mercifully brief, its denouement was foretold in predictable slow-motion during the bout’s build-up. The fact that Alvarado was arrested for firearms possession at 4:15 a.m. three weeks beforehand, the comments by some fight camp observers that he looked like the shell of a prizefighter during training, the realization that this marked his fifth successive exceptionally tough contest – after two previous bouts with Rios, and one apiece with Juan Manuel Marquez and Ruslan Provodnikov – all combined to create the impression that Alvarado was entering the ring as a dead man walking.
Still, a fighter can only fight the man in front of him, and if Alvarado was either overly-depleted or under-trained – or both – Rios was the epitome of a man who threw punches as if his future depended on them. After a brief period in the opening round when Alvarado, dry and stiff, circled and Rios, lean and hungry, sought to close him down with his jab, Rios soon found his range and raked his opponent with vicious combinations to head and body, each of them punctuated by uppercuts that sliced through Alvarado’s guard. A huge Alvarado right hand missed by a country mile, and Rios went back to bouncing punches off his foe’s head as the round ended.
Sensing that his prey was already mortally wounded, Rios flew across the ring and resumed his attack at the start of the second, unleashing a relentless barrage of punches that Alvarado, with his guard high and his legs stiff, did little to deflect or avoid. By the time six minutes had elapsed on the clock, Alvarado was giving an uncomfortably accurate impression of an unwilling bobblehead as the Rios uppercut found its mark again and again.
The assault was interrupted only by Rios being briefly felled by an Alvarado low blow in round two, and then again by the one-minute rest between the second and third frames. When the third round began, Rios resumed his brutalization. A massive uppercut snapped back Alvarado’s head with extra force, and the Colorado native dropped to his knees for an eight count. He rose to his feet and, to his immense credit, fought back as best he could for the rest of the round, but the end was clearly near and was ultimately made official by Nady after a long conversation with the boxer and his corner team.
CompuBox statistics underlined the one-sided nature of the beating. Alvarado threw just 87 punches and landed only 20, while Rios scored with 120 of 290 and outlanded his opponent in the third and final round by a staggering 52 punches to 4.
Alvarado (34-4, 24 KOs) did not exactly endear himself to the crowd by confessing that he probably had not prepared as well as he could have done. But, he defiantly asserted, “I'm not done yet. At all. I'm far from being at my best. I will be back. I guarantee to everyone in this place. I will be back.” After his performance on Saturday night, that’s far less certain than he might want to believe; but for Rios (33-2-1, 23 KOs), whose previous two outings were a lopsided loss to Manny Pacquiao and an uncomfortable disqualification win over Diego Chaves, this was a career resurgence.
“This could have been the end of my career,” the victor said afterward. “I have a lot of gas left in the tank. This was my best fight ever.” And then he repeated the cry he had let loose at the end of the fight.
In his first fight of 2011, Yuriorkis Gamboa found the distance, created distance, and closed the distance. He found the distance to land his devastatingly fast punches on Jorge Solis. He created distance between himself and ordinary opponents like Solis as well as between himself and the other Cuban pros with whom he is so frequently lumped in. And he closed some of the distance between himself and the sport's premier fighter, Manny Pacquiao, by wiping out Solis in half as many rounds as Pacquiao did four years (and four weight divisions) ago.