Many fans and experts have described Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez as the new king of boxing in the Post-Mayweather era. But how did he find himself in such a powerful position at the young age of 25? Has he earned this position or is the idea of his “greatness” used as a product to sell to maximize profits?
Last year’s announcement of Floyd Mayweather’s retirement made it possible for Oscar De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions, to position the young Canelo as the new main attraction during Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day fight weekends. These dates were institutionalized in the 90s by the gran campeón Julio Cesar Chávez as key to capturing the huge Latino market.
Canelo’s rise to the top of the boxing hierarchy now coincides with the growing importance of Latinos – and their purchasing power – in the United States.
It is estimated that by 2019, Latinos will have $1.7 trillion in buying power. With that potential cash cow, it was a no brainer for Oscar De La Hoya to make Canelo the face of his promotional empire, based on the idea that he’s the best boxer of the current moment.
Golden Boy Promotions is not the only entity that benefits from the Canelo hype train. Jose Alamillo, professor of Chicano Studies at California State University shows that since the 1980s, the beer and alcohol industry has strategically used Cinco de Mayo to promote their products to the Latino population. Canelo is a huge piece of that money making puzzle.
In the spring of 2015, Heineken USA Inc. launched their “Born Bold” campaign, which uses the Black Eagle as a metaphor to sell Tecate beer to their targeted bi-cultural Hispanic markets. The company targets the Sunbelt states, which include Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas.
In February of this year, the Heineken owned Mexican beer brand announced their endorsement of “boxing’s biggest star,” Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Tecate wasted no time by debuting a commercial starring Canelo as their protagonist. This commercial was strategically released prior to his Cinco de Mayo weekend match against the Brit Amir Khan. Canelo also agreed to wear Tecate-branded shorts for that fight, according to Sports Pro Media.
This should by no means take away from what Canelo has accomplished in his boxing career but his success is better understood in this commercial context.
So where does Kazakhstani knockout artist, Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin fit in this equation? Fans and experts alike are salivating at the possibility of a Canelo v. GGG match-up on September 17th. But there is still a big question mark as to whether the fight will actually happen. It may not make the most financial sense for Golden Boy Promotions and their Golden Boy Canelo.
So far, the promoters have matched Canelo against second tier fighters like Khan who he can take down quickly and with great fanfare. But GGG is not a second rate fighter. He is an international star and would be expected to be paid like one. That would mean his representatives at K2 Promotions will have less power to negotiate a big ticket fight contract. Having the kind of commercial power Canelo has means his side can dictate the terms and conditions of a match.
Golden Boy Promotions and Heineken USA Inc. would likely prefer to put the off the fight to a later date, in order to let the anticipation build and maximize profits when it finally hits pay-per-view. With the big showdown between these two prizefighters left to marinate, Canelo’s value to the Latino market will only increase with each passing month. For now, bets are that Canelo will face another beatable fighter this September.