USA TODAY Sports’ Martin Rogers previews the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin boxing match. USA TODAY Sports
LAS VEGAS – Hall of Famer Don Chargin has been a fixture on the boxing scene as a promoter and matchmaker for an incredible 66 years and he’s been a fan of the sport for most of his 89 years.
He’s lived through the golden eras of Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran, and he’s still actively promoting fights in Northern California. He’s the definition of a living legend.
So you should believe Chargin, once described as “maybe the last gentleman promoter left in boxing,” when he says that he’s more psyched up about Saturday’s highly anticipated Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin middleweight title unification bout at T-Mobile Arena (HBO pay-per-view, 8 p.m. ET) than any fight in years.
“It takes a lot in a fight to get me excited,” says Chargin, “but this one, I tell you, I haven’t thought about a fight like this one in years. This one reminds me of waiting for the trilogy of (Carmen) Basilio and (Sugar Ray) Robinson. That’s how important this fight is to me.”
One key factor, says Chargin, and something people don’t always think about, is the powerful urge to win for both fighters.
“Some fighters think, well, it’s a payday,” he says. “Sure, at the beginning (Golovkin and Alvarez) want to know what they’re going to get, but right now that’s the farthest thing from their mind. They want to win.”
Chargin, who considers Robinson the greatest of all time, has been an adviser for Golden Boy Promotions for several years, and thus knows a bit more about Alvarez, Golden Boy’s meal ticket, than Golovkin, who has been taken from unknown to the top of his sport by Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions. While Chargin picks Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) to hand Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) the first loss of his professional career, he’s well aware of GGG’s tremendous punching power.
“That’s one of the great unknowns of this fight: Can Canelo stand up to Golovkin’s punches, and can Golovkin stand up to Canelo’s punches?” Chargin says. “I picked Canelo, but what I’m concerned about is what if he can’t take those punches? It could be a long evening, or a short, short evening for Canelo. Because (Golovkin) is very, very dangerous.”
Alvarez has a weapon Chargin believes could be a great equalizer – the hook to the liver.
“He’s got that punch that all the Mexicans have, but only the top ones really knew how to deliver,” Chargin explains. “I’ve noticed as he’s matured, that punch has matured with him. He executes it better, and from different angles, and it’s a very devastating punch.
“He was a little wild with it until the last three or four fights. The (Julio Cesar) Chavez (Jr.) fight he used it perfectly. Now it’s getting more powerful. . . . It’s a paralyzing punch. You see fighters go down. They get a funny look on their face and all of a sudden they’re on the canvas writhing in pain. At the same time, it is a dangerous punch to deliver. When you use that punch, you leave yourself open, which I’m sure (Golovkin) will be looking for.”
Golovkin’s team has claimed that Alvarez has avoided their overtures for a fight for a couple of years, and that may be true, Chargin says, but not because Alvarez didn’t want the fight.
“All this stuff people were saying about Canelo that he didn’t want to fight (Golovkin) and everything, Canelo would have fought this guy two years ago, anytime they wanted. Oscar (De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter) told me a long time ago exactly when this fight would be made. And he hit it right on the head.”
Chargin believes the fight will go the distance, “though I’d like to see it end before that. I have great respect for both guys,” he said on Friday.
“I’m so excited about this fight. I wish it was an hour to the fight instead of having to wait until tomorrow.”