Now that the deal is finally signed for the much-anticipated rematch between unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin and former champion Canelo Alvarez on May 5, promoters Oscar De La Hoya and Tom Loeffler will get cracking on finalizing a site for the big fight.
According to both promoters, who announced the fight was finalized Monday, there are really only two serious contenders to host the HBO PPV megafight: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and Madison Square Garden in New York.
Golovkin and Alvarez fought to a controversial draw in a contest most thought Golovkin deserved to win on Sept. 16 at the sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, where the fight generated a gate of $27,059,850, the third-biggest in boxing history, and drew a Las Vegas indoor boxing record crowd of 22,358, not to mention around 1.3 million pay-per-view buys.
It’s clear that Las Vegas is where Golden Boy Promotions CEO De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter, hopes to be for the rematch.
“The Garden is being very, very aggressive,” De La Hoya told ESPN. “But I have to admit, I obviously have to consider and give my partners at the MGM [owner of T-Mobile Arena] the first shot. An event like this shouldn’t take place any place other than Las Vegas because of the hotels, the closed circuit [locations] and the entertainment the city has to offer. There are a lot of factors that come into play, but we will really get into it next week.
“The bottom line is, Las Vegas is the perfect site for a fight of this magnitude. In the history of the sport, Las Vegas has hosted the biggest events in boxing.”
Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) had never boxed in Las Vegas until facing Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) at T-Mobile Arena. But Golovkin has become a fan favorite at Madison Square Garden, where he has fought five times between the main arena and the Theater at MSG and drawn sold-out crowds.
Loeffler, GGG’s promoter, said Golovkin would embrace either site.
“We had one of the most successful fights in boxing the first time around, so it will be hard to beat T-Mobile Arena,” Loeffler said. “Everything went smoothly, and Gennady was happy with everything except the decision. He would have no issues going back to Nevada.
“But at the same time, Gennady loves the Garden, and he’d be happy to go back there, as well. Madison Square Garden is going to put together a big offer, more than what was generated from the first fight, and Manhattan is one of the only places that could charge the type of ticket prices that you can charge in Las Vegas.”
But Loeffler certainly isn’t ruling out a return to T-Mobile Arena.
“The fight is on [the Mexican holiday of] Cinco de Mayo, which is a traditional date in Las Vegas for a big fight,” Loeffler said. “We will have to sit down and talk to the venues. This is the kind of event that changes a local economy because it generates so much revenue for the hotels, the restaurants, the taxis.”
When De La Hoya and Loeffler were negotiating the fight, they mentioned the possibility of talking to Jerry Jones about hosting the fight at his AT&T Stadium, the state-of-the-art home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, where Alvarez scored a ninth-round knockout victory against Liam Smith to win a junior middleweight world title in September 2016.
While De La Hoya and Loeffler both mentioned AT&T Stadium again as a possibility after the rematch was signed, it’s highly unlikely.
A source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN that AT&T Stadium is out of the running — but not because Jones, a big boxing fan, doesn’t have interest in the fight. Rather, the reason is because the stadium is hosting the NFL draft from April 26-28, and there is not enough time to tear down the elaborate draft setup and have the stadium reconfigured in time to host the fight.
Stadium officials, the source said, fear a similar seating disaster to what took place there in 2011, when some seating for Super Bowl XLV between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers was either not available or incomplete by game time, or had obstructed views, which resulted in thousands of ticket holders either being relocated or left without a seat altogether, leading to a slew of lawsuits.
Wherever the Alvarez-Golovkin rematch winds up, Loeffler said the parties hope to have the issue resolved by mid-February, in advance of a national media tour to promote the fight.
“Ideally, we could have announced the fight before the holidays, but a few things dragged out,” Loeffler said. “We still have more than three months to promote this fight, but in the next couple of weeks we should have the site finalized.”