Canelo vs Rocky: Recapping the sights and sounds at the Garden

What all went down this weekend in New York? A lot more than most of us saw on DAZN.

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

So we saw CaneloMania in effect at Madison Square Garden, but of course in the big room on Saturday night.

But now that the dust has totally settled, let’s look back and figure out what we actually learned from the scraps, put together by Golden Boy and screened on the DAZN platform.

From the get go…

This was a loooong da — into the night, as most of these sorts of events now are. This is why: everyone knows that tons of media will be showing up for the Canelo scrap. So other promoters and other entities leapfrog onto the vessel. So they plan events around the big event. Thus, my Saturday session started with a 12:30 luncheon at a joint right near MSG. At Local West, promoter Arthur Pelullo invited some press to chat with his middleweight, Brandon Adams, a Cali-based boxer who won the Contender reboot.

Check out this video session I did with Pelullo.

He’s one of my faves in the business, because he has a good attitude about it all. He takes it seriously, but not too seriously. He has a sense of humor, a good one, and he always asks me how the fam is doing, how the kids are. He gets it — he understands proper priorities, and it’s nice to get occasional reminders when I’m doing too much coverage, that sometimes less is more.

Marc Abrams does good work for Artie; he’s in media relations, and he did a great job getting press to the event. He sent out a few reminders, cheerfully worded, and showed how to do the job right. Here he is talking about another Pelullo fighter, who has a crack at a title.

Regarding Adams, he is 21-2, and his two losses are nothing to be ashamed about. He lost to slickster Willie Monroe in 2014, then got caught cold against John Thompson in 2015. Adams then dealt with promotional snafus, and was dealing with that until he got the offer to do Contender. He and manager Shanon Slack, an attorney who has fought pro MMA, talked about it — the length of the deal, the terms, and decided what the heck?

Adams came in as not one of the favorites to win. People maybe assumed he was rusty, or they saw the two losses and wrote him off. At their peril — he owned Shane Mosley Jr (“Easy work,” Adams admitted to me, after I used the term “easy work”) when we chatted Saturday.

Check out the chat with Adams.

Now, Adams should be in a good position. He can make 154, he told me, if a great opportunity presented itself, and he will be edging up the rankings. The WBO has him No. 6 now and Pelullo is a sharp operator at knowing what’s what.

The lunch session was great; Pelullo has 30 years in the biz and owns great stories. He will come on Everlast “Talkbox” soon to share some greatest hits.

After lunch, the BWAA (Boxing Writers Association of America) had their end of the year east coast meeting, also at Local West. Now, our membership is actually up from a couple years ago, props to prez Joe Santoliquito — but as for people actually showing up for meetings? Not so bueno.

Me, Thomas Hauser, Dan Rafael, Keith Idec, Lance Pugmire, Gina Andriolo, a former manager who handles the BWAA administrative stuff, and Sean Sullivan convened, with Santoliquito running the sesh. We nominated and then voted, to find the top four or five nominees, in Fighter of the Year, Fight of the Year, etc.

While the meeting ran, I chewed on buffalo-style shrimp and tried not to be distracted, because I was also monitoring the Tureano Johnson situation. David Lemieux didn’t make weight Friday, and Tureano was viciously bummed that his fight was off. Would he still get some pay?

I messaged Roberto Diaz, the Golden Boy matchmaker, and he emailed me back. Yep, we will pay him half his purse, and also give him the money we advanced to do camp, and will book him a fight ASAP. But several times, I got busted not being attentive while we did our nominations. I had to be on my toes, because Rafael had already submitted nominations when he hit the west coast meeting. (Sometimes I will piggyback on his choices, because he knows things.)

Now and again, we have debates, discussions, about a nominee or another subject. On this occasion, we discussed the possibility of considering opening up membership, to non-writers. Should we change the name of the BWAA to the BMAA, Boxing Media Association of America? Should we allow fight callers to gain entry? I say yes, I’d be happy to have people like Paul Malignaggi in with us. But I was heavily outvoted by traditionalists.

Also, I’m naughty, not nice, when I’m on my laptop, and retweeting stories which touch on the forthcoming fights in the big room. Next year, I will do more homework on potential nominees and stay off my laptop. (The more studying decision comes from acknowledging that there is sooooo much content out there now. And only so many hours in the day. Whatcha gonna do?)

Meeting over, I trekked to MSG, which had media entry starting at 4 PM, with first fight to start at 5 PM, with Santoliquito and Sullivan. New thing: we picked up media cred at a ticket window, not a designated spot for press-persons. Who knows why — I check my cred and see that I’m in row 7. Bad seat — I guess I got punished for requesting a credential after the deadline. I am seated next to someone who isn’t even media. Nice lady, though! She is a guest of the promotion, someone who does marketing.

To the fights…

Bilal Akkawy, the super middleweight, doesn’t blow me away. Yves Ulysse Jr is slick and his attack breaks down Max Becerra. Lamont Roach is workmanlike and gets the W in a super feather scrap.Katie Taylor is in another class from Eva Wahlstrom, so it’s easy work. Four fights, four easy work outings.

I perked up watching Ryan Garcia. The internet sensation took the fight to Braulio Rodriguez, who was overmatched some, but showed fire and heart. The Sadam Ali vs Mauricio Herrerafight was a downer. Props to him, Sadam said after he was flat. Herrera said after he thought he won. He didn’t.

Tevin Farmer was a notch above Francisco Fonseca, so that scrap didn’t wow me. I slid out for a snack, to be honest. And oh no — food stations were shutting down. One of the managers tossed me a sandwich, because I asked if there were seven sandwiches sitting right there, why he wouldn’t sell me one.

I also bought a $5.50 coffee, with gold shavings mixed in, to justify the price.

Now, Canelo time! Would Fielding justify the declaration of pundits who thought he’d acquit himself well? No, it quickly became apparent. This, after I became annoyed again, when I saw media relations persons telling those in press row not to film the entries to the ring. This, while there were 15,000 people in the stands filming it. I have a question out, asking for the reasoning behind the rule, and will report to you if I get a response. (I hate a foolish inconsistency, if you haven’t noticed. Quiet, Woods, back to the holiday spirit, you Grinch-y MFer…)

I see a bunch of open seats, especially in the the posh section, but the building looks and sounds full. The announced attendance: 20,112. Great number for a non-Puerto Rican against a severe underdog.

Good to see ace emcee Mark Fratto here. The Linacre Media bossman runs Facebook Fight Night Live and got a date night out with his missus. They looked posh and happy.

To the fight…

Not much of a “fight,” per se, because Fielding is out of his depth. There would be no Rockyending for the Liverpool boxer. He’d have to be cheered up by the payday, because Canelo’s body shots would leave him aching for days, if not longer.

Live and up fairly close, Alvarez mightily impressed me. Someone asked me after, would you rather watch Canelo or GGG live? I’d flip a coin, maybe, but the Mexican’s punch placement with that left to the body was a thing of beauty in NYC.

My seat mate to my left, a nice gal, moved from Mexico to Texas when she was a kid, so she was a fun partner to watch with. I was impressed, and she was even more so. She tried to get a selfie with Ryan Garcia, and succeeded. “No,” she told me before I asked, “I didn’t ask for more than a selfie. Kid is too young.” I badgered her and she made me guess her age. I guessed 25, going five lower than my true guesstimate. Good move! She is 31. Guessing ages is a fools errand. Luckily the hat fits!

Best tweet off this fight came compliments of Heather Hardy:

I typed real fast, and then hustled back for the presser post-fight. Good thing — they were shoving people out, because Garden workers had to break down the ring and seats for another event the next day. Time is money over there — if those guys go into overtime, they get big moolah. Oh, you wonder why a coffee costs $5.50? So these guys can make a living wage. Don’t get me started about the system as a whole!

Eddie Hearn comes first to the post-fight presser. He talks up Tevin Farmer’s outing and ponders what could come next for Farmer. A homecoming fight, it turns out. This road warrior will next fight at home in Philly. He deserves it.

Oscar De La Hoya came next. He jokingly cracked a Tecate on the table and then put it down. The promoter thanked the media for doing their thing and wished all a happy holidays.

“Tonight was a great night for Canelo. He showed not only his patience, his great body work, but he showed he can hang in there with the big boys,” he said, noting that no, he didn’t promote this test as the sternest for his lead dog talent.

“We had a sellout, 20,112, an official sellout. Canelo solidified the fact that he’s a global superstar, he can fight anywhere, and fill up stadiums, and that’s thanks to the fans, the fans who make everything happen, and we greatly appreciate you.”

Oscar trotted out Ryan Garcia, who he said will fight for a title next year.

“Ryan has a bright future, I’m sure he will get to a world title, and win many world championships,” the promoter said.

Ryan said he jelled with new trainer Eddy Reynoso, “because he treats you like family. Everybody welcomed me with open arms, and he’s a badass trainer.”

The 20-year-old Cali boxer said he noted how humble Canelo is — he never acts like he thinks he’s learned it all. That rubbed off on Garcia, it seems.

Then Oscar chatted with press while we waited for Canelo. Will there be a groundswell for a third GGG match?

“Whether it’s at 160 or 168, there are plenty of challenges out there for Canelo,” he said, promising to do the holidays, and then get deeper into planning for May 4. “Fighting at 168 has opened the door to new opponents,” he said.

He then was asked if he wanted a rematch with Floyd Mayweather.

“There’s not one day that passes by that I don’t wish I could fight, but my days are over,” he admitted.

More from Oscar: he said GBP will work with any promoter. They worked with Top Rank to do Jorge Linares vs Vasiliy Lomachenko, and that will continue. They don’t want to shut out working with any entity, he stated.

Eric Kelly then added to his legend, by addressing Oscar: “As a middleweight, Canelo fought Amir Khan. I wish he had an eighth of the nuts you did.”

Rocky Fielding came in and took a bow. Oscar spoke on Jaime Munguia’s next bout. Might there come a time when Canelo could face Munguia in all Mexican showdown?

“Too early now, but you are right, Munguia is a monster.”

More from ODLH: Oscar admitted he has no great love for Al Haymon, but Eric Gomez gets along famously with him, so they can do business together.

“I can set my ego aside just to bring you the best fights possible. This is what we’re all about, we want to make the best fights, that’s it.”

Canelo then took to the mic. The 51-1-2 hitter, still in his fight gear, thanked all for their support.

He said he knew body work would pay dividends.

He stated that fighting at MSG “was a nice experience” and “I hope it’s not the last time I’m here, I hope it’s the first of many.”

He was asked about his power, and how well it played at 168. Canelo said he didn’t know if he’d do 160 next or stay at 168. He told Dan Rafael that it won’t be hard to travel back to 160.

“It’s always a sacrifice,” but he’s comfy at 160. Also, he was asked about soon fighting at a stadium in Mexico. We’ve heard maybe in September. He said that will be talked about and it fills him with pride to fight in his home land. Then, he thanked all for their support and went to furnish a sample for mandatory testing.

And that was it.

I jetted. And got some exercise by walking from 33rd down to 14th St. But oh shoot — I forgot my keys. No way am I buzzing my residence and waking up my crew at 2:45 am! So I took one for the team, and waited in a diner for a couple hours ‘til an early bird let me in. Oh man, that is some scene. Someone brought in a Christmas tree with their drunk self. (It was only three feet tall, for the record.)

My three cents: Reaction to this main event was mixed. On site, it worked well. On screen, many fans didn’t dig the lopsidedness of the matchup. Hey, it’s true, boxing isn’t like other sports. No fighter fights Godzilla, Godzilla and then King Kong in a row as much as used to be the case. Some lighter fare, a “stay busy” bout is more likely to be entered into the mix in this era. It is what it is. This era is just different — it is more about being a calculated business than it was in the old days, no?

Fighters understand, honor and dignity and pride and legacy are great — but the costs can be excessive. So it’s smarter not to withstand the punishment the legends of past eras did. It might make for a sport with fewer moments of in-ring glory to savor, to be quite honest.

I think a Canelo vs Danny Jacobs matchup May 4 will have the naysayers back on board the C-Train, what about you? Overall, the redhead is officially the lead dog. He is pack leader in boxing, and boxing feels a bit bigger with such a solid pack leader pulling the sled. But Danny Jacobs would like nothing more than to topple him.

In this theater of the unexpected, that is one constant: there’s no shortage of people there looking to be the sniper who topples the leader of the pack.

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