• Middle wars

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    ED C. TOLENTINO

    Golden Boy Promotions head honcho Oscar De La Hoya is trumpeting the upcoming Gennady Golovkin-Saul Alvarez middleweight world title showdown as a “throwback” contest; a fight that guarantees to remind fans of the golden days of professional boxing.

    This explains why even in the promo videos, Golovkin and Alvarez are seen wearing classic boxing trunks, gloves and even hairdos. The reputation of boxing having been tarnished by big money matches that failed to live up to the hype, De La Hoya is telling everybody that Golovkin-Alvarez will bring the fireworks.

    Golovkin (37-0, 33 knockouts) and Alvarez (49-1, 34 knockouts) will duke it out on September 17 (Manila time) for the WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight crowns. The middleweight division, with a weight limit of 160 pounds, is one of the eight original weight classes in pro boxing (the others being the flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions) and carries a rich history when it comes to legendary fights. The way experts see it, Golovkin-Alvarez is on course to becoming one of the division’s most memorable fights.

    From where this writer sits, the April 15, 1985 showdown between ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler and Thomas “Hitman” Hearns remains the barometer by which every middleweight title fight is measured. Hagler successfully defended his world middleweight title with a knockout victory over former welterweight champ and feared power-hitter Hearns. The fight lasted just three rounds, but the British publication Boxing News called it “eight minutes of mayhem.”

    Right in the opening round, Hagler came out with both guns blazing and engaged Hearns in a no-holds barred slugfest. The Ring magazine called it the greatest round in boxing history. With blood flowing profusely from his forehead, Hagler flattened Hearns in the third stanza with a devastating right hook.

    The sixth and final meeting between ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson and Jake ‘Raging Bull’ LaMotta, held on February 14, 1951, is also in the list for sheer middleweight savagery. Just how savage? Historians refer to the fight as the “Valentine’s Day Massacre.” Robinson came in as the challenger and had an astonishing win-loss record of 121-1, the lone loss being to LaMotta in their second meeting in 1943. Defending champ LaMotta tried to initiate a slugfest but Robinson’s boxing skills kept him at bay. Still, in the 11th round, LaMotta landed a barrage of punches at Robinson. The fight ended violently in the 13th round, with LaMotta trapped on the ropes and Robinson bombarding him with an assortment of punches. LaMotta refused to fall and even wrapped his arm along the ropes as he swallowed Robinson’s punches. “He’s the toughest guy I ever fought,” said Robinson.

    There are other noteworthy middleweight title contests that make this writer’s list, including Roberto Duran’s gut-wrenching split-decision win over Iran Barkley in 1989; Frenchman Marcel Cerdan’s bloody 11th round stoppage of brawler Tony Zale in 1948; and Gene Fullmer’s 14th round knockout of Carmen Basilio in 1959.

    De La Hoya sees Golovkin-Alvarez running along the lines of Hagler-Hearns, only he expects the ring to boil for around six to eight rounds. “It is a pick ‘em fight,” said De La Hoya, “but it will be six to eight rounds of hell.”

    For boxing’s sake, let’s hope De La Hoya’s statement comes into fruition.

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    For comments, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@yahoo.com.

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