By Tim Dahlberg
AP Sports Columnist
LAS VEGAS — The good news for boxing fans is the fight they really want to see may actually happen before they grow too old to enjoy it.
Even better news is that it has nothing to do with Floyd Mayweather Jr., or newly elected Filipino senator Manny Pacquiao.
Circle the date of Sept. 17, but don’t plan on buying tickets just yet. This is boxing, after all, and a ton of good fights that should have happened never have.
Still, Canelo Alvarez says he wants it. Count Gennady Golovkin in, too.
Two big sluggers with one loss between them for all the middleweight titles they can bring to the ring.
“It’s one of those fights we can make,” said Tom Loeffler, who promotes Golovkin. “Clearly it’s the biggest fight that can be made in boxing and it seems pretty clear Canelo wants the fight.”
That was evident Saturday night when Alvarez laid out Amir Khan with a vicious right hand, then used the same hand to motion Golovkin, who was watching at ringside, to get in the ring himself.
Another interested observer at ringside was Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who would like nothing better than to steal a big fight from Vegas and fill his stadium for the biggest fight since Mayweather and Pacquiao put on a snoozefest last May.
“I invited him personally,” said Oscar De La Hoya, who promotes Alvarez. “That’s how seriously he takes getting a Canelo fight.”
Up until Alvarez landed the right hand that flattened Khan and then called out Triple G it seemed like the fight was not going to happen, at least anytime soon. Alvarez is De La Hoya’s biggest attraction, and the word among boxing insiders was that he didn’t want to risk him in a fight against Golovkin, who has walked through everyone who has gotten in the ring with him.
There also was an issue with weight. Alvarez holds a middleweight title, but fought at a catch weight of 155 pounds against Khan. Golovkin says any title fight he has will be at the 160-pound middleweight limit.
But Alvarez and De La Hoya now say weight is not an issue. And the invitation by Alvarez for Golovkin to join him in the ring after the Khan fight dispelled any notion that he wasn’t eager to fight.
“I invited him because I’m not afraid,” Alvarez said. “And I wanted to prove to him I’m not afraid.”
De La Hoya reached out to Loeffler on Sunday, and the two planned to begin negotiations Tuesday. Loeffler said he and De La Hoya worked together for Golovkin’s fight with David Lemieux last October, and will have no issues working together for a Sept. 17 fight.
Adding to the pressure to make the fight is the mandate by the WBC that Alvarez come to an agreement to fight Golovkin within 15 days of the Khan fight or he will be stripped of the title.
“I’m pretty sure we can make a deal,” Loeffler said. “There was absolutely no reason for Canelo to invite Gennady into the ring the other night unless he really wanted the fight.”
The fight should prove attractive, even to casual fans who felt burned by paying $100 to watch Mayweather and Pacquiao in the richest fight ever. It won’t do the record 4.6 million pay-per-view buys that fight generated, but should do good enough numbers to make both fighters millions.
Golovkin sold out Madison Square Garden for Lemieux, and did the same at the Forum in Los Angeles last month for a knockout of Dominic Wade. Alvarez, who is Mexico’s biggest boxing star, drew more than 30,000 fans to Minute Maid Park in Houston last year, and nearly sold out the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for Khan.
Loeffler said the two together could draw 70,000 fans to Jones’ stadium, or easily sell out in Vegas. De La Hoya also mentioned Dodger Stadium as a possible site.
Both fighters are knockout artists, so there is little risk that the fight will be tough to watch like Mayweather-Pacquiao was.
“Everyone knows with Gennady’s style and Canelo’s style people aren’t going to be disappointed with the action in the ring,” Loeffler said. “They are two machismo warriors.”
Indeed, it’s a fight that sounds almost too good to be true. And, unlike Mayweather-Pacquiao it won’t take five years go make.
Remember, though, it’s still boxing. And that means don’t count on it happening until the tickets actually go on sale.