HBO Strikes Back: Roman ‘Chocolatito' Gonzalez vs. Gennady ‘GGG' Golovkin
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Life is not like a box of chocalates, but in “Chocolatito” we know exactly what we're going to get.
So does HBO.
The network of champions isn't interested in matching boxing's best against Forrest Gump, beginning its fall lineup with this past Saturday night's scintillating matchup between Roman Gonzalez (46-0, 38KO's) and Carlos “Principe” Cuadras (35-1-1, 27KO's), a bout which saw “Chocolatito” claim his WBC super flyweight title via gritty 12-round unanimous decision to become Nicaragua's first 4-division world champion.
Gonzalez took his flyweight supremacy up to super flyweight, where he took the fight directly to the lineal champion and most dangerous fighter in the division.
It was an action fight reminiscent of an 80's bout between say, a flyweight superstar version of Edwin Rosaro in Gonzalez opposite a very Hector Camscho-ish “Principe” Cuadras.
His rise to prominence coincides with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin's “Iron” Mike Tyson-like dominance at middleweight. The two best fighters in the world, headlined two major events by HBO in different parts of the world, as the network stands poised to demonstrate its still reigning preeminence in big-time fights.
For all the talk of HBO's demise under Peter Nelson– much due in part to passing on Terence Crawford vs Viktor Postol and Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao, said to be attributed to financial considerations, a budget cut, basically, the network remains in pole position for several reasons.
In Golovkin (36-0, 33KO's), HBO has the most savage fighter on the planet. IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook (35-1, 26KO's), God bless him, was being systematically bludgeoned by Golovkin just as GGG vowed, right up until the U.K. star's corner threw in the towel and got out of town.
What has been perceived as HBO having a declining budget for boxing, is in actuality more adjacent to shrewd or even ruthless, business decisions. The suits know they have controlling interest or influence with most of RING's pound-for-pound best.
GGG turned Kell Brook into a unique oasis in the sand headed for Canelo Alvarez, the #1 star and draw in the sport. A considerable portion of that market was from the U.K., Ireland, Scotland and many parts of Europe, and they'll watch Canelo challenge a very aggressive WBO super welterweight champion Liam “Beefy” Smith this weekend.
That fight will be compared to Golovkin vs. Brook, just as it is still being compared with Canelo vs. Khan as you read this.
HBO will also host the heavyweight championship rematch between Tyson Fury and long-time champion Wladimir Klitschko on Oct. 29, and follow that up with a superfight between light heavyweight kingpin Sergey Kovalev and former super middleweight great Andre Ward on Nov. 19th.
With no free network TV financial obligations like rival Showtime, HBO has decided to pick and choose only the biggest possible fights with its established stars for a broad audience, while remaining open to negotiations with anyone qualified to talk.
Somewhere, Larry Merchant must be smiling.
John Gatling (aka Taz) is a southpaw from Plainfield, NJ and the boxing opinionator lives in the Boston area. He was inspired by hometown heroes Harold “The Shadow” Knight and Glenwood “The Real Beast” Brown to get deeper into the fight game. Follow John on Twitter (@johngatling_) and Facebook (facebook.com/taznj)