LAS VEGAS — The Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight three weeks ago was a boxing spectacle that attracted worldwide attention and big business because of the personalities of the participants and the intrigue about what might happen if a top mixed martial artist crossed over to the ring to face an all-time-great boxer.
But throughout that promotion, and even during fight week, the refrain from some fans and media was to just wait for the real fight that would take place three weeks after Mayweather-McGregor.
The TV lineup for Saturday’s card from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (HBO PPV, 8 p.m. ET):
• Middleweights: Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) vs. Canelo Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs), 12 rounds, for Golovkin’s unified world title
• Featherweights: Joseph Diaz (24-0, 13 KOs) vs. Rafael Rivera (25-0-2, 16 KOs), 12 rounds, world title eliminator
• Junior featherweights: Diego De La Hoya (19-0, 9 KOs) vs. Randy Caballero (24-0, 14 KOs), 10 rounds
• Lightweights: Ryan Martin (19-0, 11 KOs) vs. Francisco Rojo (20-2, 13 KOs), 10 rounds
The real fight they spoke of was the long-awaited showdown between unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, who has a claim to the lineal title. They meet on Saturday (HBO PPV, 8 p.m. ET) — during Mexican Independence Day weekend — at T-Mobile Arena in one of the most anticipated fights in years.
Neither man will wow anybody with his personality or gift for gab — they didn’t at the final prefight news conference at the MGM Grand’s David Copperfield Theater on Wednesday. But the refrain from all involved was simple: This is going to be a great fight.
Given their action-packed styles, skills and punching power, it’s hard to disagree.
“This fight needs no hype whatsoever,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter. “You have Canelo Alvarez, and you know what he can do and what he is all about and the hard work he puts into every single fight. He obviously has devastating punching power, tremendous speed, great footwork. Then you have the champion here, Gennady Golovkin — undefeated, amazing, amazing power. This is a fight that is can’t miss. That’s the bottom line.”
Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs), 35, and Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs), 27, were gracious to each other. They are competitors who want to win, but there has been no trash talking or outlandish behavior to attract attention. To them, it’s about the fight.
“It’s a great day for this era, for this sport of boxing, and I respect Canelo and his team,” Golovkin said. “Finally, it’s a huge history fight.”
Said Alvarez: “I don’t like to talk a lot. I am prepared. I know it’s going to be a tough fight. I know that. And that’s what I am ready for. I want you all to enjoy it like I’m going to enjoy it.”
Alvarez manager Chepo Reynoso, an old friend of Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez, joked with him, but they also know this is serious business at hand as their fighters aim for a legacy-making victory, not to mention their place near or at the top of the pound-for-pound list.
“All the talking, all the boasting is done,” Sanchez said. “Gennady is 100 percent. I’m sure Chepo and [trainer] Eddie [Reynoso] have prepared Canelo the same way. We’re looking for a dramatic fight, and explosive fight. I think their styles match up.”
Golovkin can notch his 19th consecutive title defense with a win or a draw, one shy of tying the record of Bernard Hopkins, who was on hand as a partner in Golden Boy.
“My era was my era, and this era is this era, and I’m glad to witness this fight from a historical perspective and promotional perspective,” Hopkins said. “If you look at the time between 2001 at Madison Square Garden with Felix Trinidad and myself to 2017 — 16 years — it doesn’t happen all the time. But when it do happen, embrace it and understand history don’t always repeat itself. Canelo and GGG, thanks for respecting the division that made me, so enjoy it fans, reporters, and understand history doesn’t happen all the time. No matter who you chose [to win], it will never be forgotten what will happen on Saturday.”
De La Hoya has been asked time and again for his view on the how the fight will go, and he said he’s at a loss.
“I don’t have a crystal ball, but what people do know is it will be a great, great fight because of what’s at stake,” he said. “Pride, fighting for your country, fighting for boxing fans all over the world. This is a fight for boxing, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“The only fight I can compare it to on paper, you have to go back to the Marvelous Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns days, and we’re still talking about that  fight. I want my kids, your kids to talk about Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez 20 years from now. This fight we have on our hands is a special fight.”