Alvarez vs. Ortiz - Golden Boy puts boxing back in good place
You can't help but respect Golden Boy Promotions' timing on this one.
While Bob Arum at rival Top Rank was busy seeking a government investigation into the judges' decision that went against his fighter, Manny Pacquiao, in a loss to Timothy Bradley on Saturday in Las Vegas, Oscar de la Hoya's company seized the moment and announced a blockbuster card for Sept. 15 at the MGM.
It's Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, the WBC junior middleweight champion, defending his title against Victor Ortiz, who fight fans last saw getting clocked by Floyd Mayweather in the infamous "Protect yourself at all times" bout last September. Ortiz was KO'd, and hasn't fought since. But he's back to training for another fight.
Alvarez will defend his belt against Ortiz if Ortiz defeats Josesito Lopez on June 23 in Los Angeles. Clearly Golden Boy (and a lot of other fight experts) expect that to happen, so the 25-year-old Ortiz will get his shot to end Canelo's undefeated streak.
The "Knockout Kings" fight card will be on Showtime pay-per-view - not HBO - and will feature four top bouts. The leadup to Canelo-Ortiz is Golden Boy fighter Daniel Ponce de Leon against fellow Mexican Jhonny Gonzalez for the WBC featherweight championship.
This is the fight for which Ponce de Leon has been working for years. It's his shot at the most notable title of the 31-year-old's career.
Here's what makes Knockout Kings great - first, it's on Mexican Independence Day weekend, and three of the top Mexican fighters plus a Mexican American top contender will be in the ring.
Second, Golden Boy announced that the fighter who is voted by fans to have scored the best knockout of the evening earns a $100,000 bonus.
So, to sum it up, Ortiz, who hasn't fought since last year, needs a win or at least a draw to lock in a date with Alvarez on the biggest of stages in Vegas. As confusing as his approach was in the Mayweather fight - and he paid for his hugging and apologetic tactics with a knockout blow - Ortiz is a name fighter now, and he'll be a draw.
Alvarez is young, just 21 now but 22 when the fight takes place. He's had few top-flight, in-their-prime opponents and in Ortiz, he should be tested. Both fighters are heavy punchers who are equals in size and who like to stand in and trade.
A win is huge for both fighters. There's no doubt that Ortiz is still young enough (25) to be a force in the sport, and Alvarez seems bound for super stardom. Golden Boy seemed to be in a bind after Alvarez's original opponent, Paul Williams, was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, and James Kirkland signed on to be the replacement but backed out a day later.
Ortiz should provide just as good a show.
That Showtime will get the pay-per-view rights over traditional network HBO is surprising, but business is business. And Golden Boy took care of business with Tuesday's announcement, giving true fight fans a great card and casual fans a reason not to give up on boxing after a lousy judges' decision just a few days ago.
By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM