Gennady Golovkin v Canelo Alvarez will put boxing back on the map, says Oscar de la Hoya

Golden Boy Promotions chairman and CEO Oscar de la Hoya (centre) looks on, as Canelo Alvarez (left) and WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin pose during their official weigh-in at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept 15, 2017 in Las Vega
Golden Boy Promotions chairman and CEO Oscar de la Hoya (centre) looks on, as Canelo Alvarez (left) and WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin pose during their official weigh-in at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept 15, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.PHOTO: AFP

(GUARDIAN) - Oscar de la Hoya is not the most impartial party involved in the middleweight super-fight between his compatriot and client, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and the unbeaten Gennady "GGG" Golovkin, but the promoter struck a note of authenticity when he predicted unprecedented suffering for both fighters on Saturday night (Sunday morning, Singapore time).

"I'm going to call this fight, 'eight to nine rounds of hell' for both guys," the six-weight former world champion said. "It's going to be difficult for both guys."

No argument there.

Even the fighters, who have won most of their contests easily, agree. They admit they are preparing for the worst night of their careers.

Nor did de la Hoya stray from the widely accepted view when he said that the contest represents a priceless chance for boxing to claw back some integrity.

He dismissed Floyd Mayweather's 10-round stoppage of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) fighter Conor McGregor in the same T-Mobile Arena three weeks ago as a financial stunt, adding: "That is not what boxing is all about.

"Boxing is all about the fight. It's not all about the business and the money. That will come. Every time there is talk about the money, the gate and this and that - what happens? The fight is terrible. You know who I'm talking about."

Yet it is about the money. It's always about the money - whatever the pride on the line for both fighters, whatever the belts.

A belt in boxing is a piece of leather that holds up the trousers of a plump executive and it is a bright, shiny bauble used to inflate the asking price for the next major event.

It took three years of talking to get Alvarez, 27, and the 35-year-old Kazakh into the same ring.

For a worryingly long time, it seemed brinkmanship would wreck the deal, as it nearly did in the five years of haggling that preceded Mayweather's past-the-sell-by-date mega showdown with Manny Pacquiao .

Nevertheless, de la Hoya insists: "This is perfect timing because boxing needs it. What I visualise in my head is a great fight that is only going to help boxing. Somebody asked me why this fight wasn't made three years ago. Canelo was fighting at welterweight three years ago."

Not quite: Alvarez last fought at 147lb (66kg) seven years and 20 fights ago.

Indeed his last fight, against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in May, was at super-middleweight, even though both of them clocked in at 164lb (74kg).

The American is indisputably on the money, however, when he says: "Golovkin has been fighting at middleweight all his life."

While the "Golden Boy" knows more about fighting up and down the weight categories than nearly anyone in the business, he puts a favourable shine on it.

"A fighter like myself, who has experienced six weight divisions, you have to grow into the weight and let your body naturally grow into it. Just last year, Canelo was fighting at light-middleweight against Liam Smith.

"It is actually surprising it got made this fast. Now that Canelo has moved up, he is fighting the very best guy instead of taking someone else like (David) Lemieux or (Billy Joe) Saunders. He is taking on Golovkin."

And, if Golovkin proves to be too big for the Mexican, as some insiders here suspect?

"If he is, then so be it. This is what Canelo wanted. This is what boxing needs and if Golovkin is the bigger man, then guess what? Then Canelo better step up his game and fight even harder. That is good for us as fans."

"You're going to get hit anyways so you might as well go out there and try to put on a great show. They say you're as good as your last fight, and whoever wins this fight and in a spectacular fashion will be considered the best pound-for-pound fighter."

Tom Loeffler, Golovkin's promoter who is sharing those duties with Golden Boy Promotions, said: "There is no question that the winner - whether it is Canelo or GGG - is going to be more marketable. It's not only the two best fighters in the division, and the two best pound-for-pound fighters, it's two of the most marketable fighters in the sport.

"If Gennady wins, his career is at a whole different level. At that point, he can start picking and choosing instead of having to chase people. He always wanted to fight the other champions to prove he was the best. If he beats Canelo, he's clearly going to be the best and they are going to have to come to him when he's at the top."

That's the talk out of the way. As for the fighting, Golovkin does not agree that Alvarez might be the perfect match for his attacking style, as most respected commentators have agreed.

Surprisingly, he demurred: "Maybe not for me, maybe for people, the fans. Will I enjoy it? Maybe not: too much moving, no close distance, more power."

Golovkin's trainer, Abel Sanchez, agrees it will be a wretched experience for both of them, but insists the styles favour his man.

"We're looking for a difficult fight, a dramatic fight, explosive. These guys' two styles match up perfectly to give us the kind of fight we will remember for a long time."

It would be ideal if it were for all the right reasons.

Golovkin should remember it more favourably, bringing a hectic night's action to a bloody conclusion in the later rounds.