It’s been nearly seven full years.
I remember chatting Oscar De La Hoya up in the aftermath of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas and he was only too happy to discuss the merits of the following weekend’s matchup between then-client Canelo Alvarez and then-154-pound KO machine James Kirkland.
He went on and on about how the Kirkland fight was a can’t-miss spectacle and would quickly erase the bitter aftertaste left by a just-completed pay-per-view scrap that was far more miss than hit.
Alvarez was a few months shy of 25 back then and 10 months past an artistically iffy 12-rounder with Erislandy Lara – a fight more than a few folks, myself included, thought he deserved to lose.
So when Oscar continued his sales pitch by throwing out fighters his man had on his post-Kirkland radar, I was waiting to hear something that’d go beyond the garden variety promotional hype.
Timothy Bradley. David Lemieux. Miguel Cotto. Manny Pacquiao.
None of them created much of a stir in my reporter’s notebook.
But when he uttered the next name – Gennady Golovkin – I sat up and took notice.
“That’s why people love him, because he’s willing to fight the very best,” De La Hoya said. “And Golovkin is no exception. He’s eventually going to fight Golovkin and the question is at what point do we let him loose? The time will come. The time will come. And at the right time, people will see that fight.”
Maybe so. But at that time, it seemed a little nuts.
Canelo had never fought past 155 pounds and Golovkin was 10 defenses into an IBO title reign at 160 that began with a first-round blowout of Lajuan Simon, and 19 KOs into a streak of consecutive finishes that eventually swelled to 23 before Daniel Jacobs went the full 12 in 2017.
Two years and four months after our chat, Oscar’s wish came true.
And then another 364 days after that, it came true again.
So that’s why when I talked to him again on Monday afternoon, I paid closer attention.
He was still flush with pride over new main man Ryan Garcia’s return to the ring with an impressive victory on Saturday night in San Antonio, and only too happy to suggest that a series of big fights – including one with long-anticipated foil Gervonta Davis – would soon be on the way.
But there was one particular name, just like last time, that stood out.
Though Garcia has never fought beyond the 138 3/4 pounds at which he weighed-in on Friday and Alvarez hasn’t fought south of 159 1/2 since the Golovkin rematch in 2018, the former Golden Boy stablemates could get together to yield an event that could challenge all pay-per-view records.
“If they both continue on their paths and neither one of them lose, sure, that’s something we could see happening,” De La Hoya said. “That could be the biggest thing ever.”
But don’t hold your breath.
He’s looking five or six years down the road – assuming Garcia has put a couple dozen pounds on his 5-foor-10 frame and ex-client Alvarez is still successfully plying his trade at age 36 or 37.
In the meantime, the cinnamon-haired Mexican has got some other things on his mind.
Canelo has a May 7 date with WBA light heavyweight title claimant Dmitry Bivol and a tentative plan to meet Golovkin in a trilogy bout should he get past the Russian. Golovkin punched his ticket to the third go-round a few hours before Garcia’s fight, defeating Ryota Murata in nine rounds in Japan.
For statistics sake, Garcia stands two inches taller than Alvarez has a comparable reach (70 inches to Canelo’s 70 1/2). Lest anyone forget, Alvarez actually began his career as a junior welterweight – defeating Abraham Gonzalez in four rounds as a 15-year-old in 2005 – and was still a welterweight through a third-round KO of Brian Camechis in 2010, three-and-a-half years before Mayweather.
Garcia has been lukewarm when asked about De La Hoya’s suggestion of an Alvarez fight, preferring to focus on his imminent foe – Emmanuel Tagoe – heading into last weekend.
But based on my experience seven years ago, I’ve certainly learned my lesson.
I’ll go ahead and apply for my press pass now.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
IBF/WBA/WBC welterweight titles- Arlington, Texas
Errol Spence Jr. (IBF, WBC champ/No. 1 IWBR) vs. Yordenis Ugas (WBA champ/No. 3 IWBR)
Spence (27-0, 21 KO): Sixth IBF title defense; Four KOs in seven previous fights in Texas
Ugas (27-4, 12 KO): First title defense; Won six of seven career 12-round bouts (6-1, 2 KO)
Fitzbitz says: Ugas is legit. He’s awkward. He’s tricky. He’s talented. And he deserves to be in this spot. But this is a vote based on a belief that Spence is the real deal, too. Spence by decision (75/25)
This week’s trash title-fight schedule:
WBA “world” welterweight title – Arlington, Texas
Radzhab Butaev (champion/No. 12 IWBR) vs. Eimantas Stanionis (No. 1 WBA/No. 20 IWBR)
Why it’s trash: If you’ve gotten this far and still don’t know why it’s billed as trash, you’re probably beyond help. P.S., Stanionis, who’s beaten precisely zero fighters in the top 20, is ranked ahead of both Jaron Ennis and Keith Thurman, not to mention Vergil Ortiz Jr. and Conor Benn. So, yeah, title fight.
Last week's picks: 2-0 (WIN: Golovkin, Nakatani)
2022 picks record: 9-3 (75 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,218-395 (75.5 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.