La tercera es la vencida. The third time’s the charm.
As all the paisas know, this Saturday, September 17th will mark the third and final time Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez will face Gennadiy Gennadyevich Golovkin, aka GGG, in the ring. For Canelo, la tercera needs to be a statement win: either by knockout or a clear victory through 12 rounds, as he clearly put it during a media day at the House of Boxing in San Diego two weeks ago.
“My objective is to win by knockout starting in the first round,” he told L.A. TACO. “My goal is to end the fight before the third round. It’s going to be a difficult and complicated fight, but that’s my goal and what I intend to do from the first round.”
After years of waiting, fans will finally get to see Saul “Canelo” Alvarez face Gennady Golovkin in the ring. Many fans and non-fans alike have witnessed the huge marketing push by Tecate in the US and Mexico for the fight. The campaign, which includes a set of commercials featuring Canelo and Sylvester Stallone, began a new phase a month before the fight with “16 Stories Of Punch.”
The digital campaign highlights the stories of 16 individuals of Mexican and Mexican-American heritage who Tecate selected as “punching above their weight” in their respective fields. Folks such as ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna, chef Enrique Olvera, artist Edgar “Saner” Flores (who provides the art for the campaign), and Olympic boxer Marlen Esparza make the cut in the company’s social media pages.
The campaign comes to an end at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV tonight where Saner’s art will be converted into large, physical portraits and posters for attendees to enjoy as an interactive photo exhibit.
I spoke with Gustavo Guerra, Brand Director at Tecate, and Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions (who is also one of the 16 personalities features in the campaign), about their work together for “16 Stories Of Punch” as well as the final preparations for the big fight.
Gustavo Guerra: We wanted to do something that compliments the level of importance of the biggest event of the year that is around the corner. Tecate sponsoring boxing and specifically Canelo’s fight, we wanted to combine two great things that Hispanics are about to live. One of course is the fight but the second is Mexican Independence Day weekend. For that, we put together the agency to work on something that can be impactful, that can be different, but at the same time can tap into these two facts: the boxing event and Mexican Independence Day.
The problem that we came about with this idea was just to shine a light on the story of Mexican-Americans living in the US that are punching above their weight. That, of course, is acknowledging that Canelo is the most important guy of our 16 stories, we wanted to find 15 more fighters from different fields, not necessarily about boxing, that can be a nice story to engage and to inspire our audience in digital. For that, of course, to celebrate this meaningful number of 16 that we know that is related to Mexican Independence Day as well to the Canelo fight [and] the momentum that we have. So we know that it’s a date full of significance for Mexicans not only because of the boxing but also because of Mexican Independence Day. With this in mind, we wanted to find 15 nice stories to tell over our social channel and, in some cases, we randomly picked some guys that are from different fields but also we wanted to walk the walk and acknowledge our partners who are, in this case, Eric was a great addition to the program because Eric has a very compelling and interesting story about the way he has been doing things with his career and his journey with Golden Boy Promotions.
We knew it was a very nice contribution to the program because, again, it’s a matter of being credible and telling stories of people that are related to the boxing scene but also about being fighters in their life. That was the common theme that aside of Canelo and, this case, Eric, we captured the stories of some other warriors that are doing great things in different fields.
The name of the story is “16 Stories Of Punch.” The idea is to, like a cherry to the cake, to have a very nice activation on site outside of the arena in which we will expose the 16 stories along with the 16 paintings and thanks to Saner, a great artist originally from Oaxaca, who has a great style in line with what we were looking for: very Mexican and very authentic. We will have him performing one more time with a big mural in the T-Mobile Arena outside of the arena and he will be doing an interpretation of the two fighters. That is the way we will conclude this great program.
What was the process of selecting the individuals for the campaign?
Guerra: For us, it was a task of finding Mexican-Americans that can live in the relevant market in which we target especially California, Texas, Chicago, which happens to be the market with high Hispanic concentrations. The common theme was to be fighters, to be of Mexican descent, to be born and raised in Mexico but come to the US but to have this story in the same line of success in the way they see and the way they tackle life in a lighthearted way. We wanted to have this combination of different profiles and who have a fighting spirit and that’s how we came up with guys like Raul [Torres] being an actor, Francisco Galvez, the head of CharroAzteca.com, he’s an entrepreneur. He’s selling charreria online, which is awesome! We were very lucky to find different personalities that collectively have in common this theme to be fighters, to having great stories.
I know this is a separate campaign but how did Tecate come to work with Sylvester Stallone?
Guerra: That’s been a very successful campaign! I need to be very honest with you. That has been the most successful campaign ever in the history of Tecate in the US. We normally track the campaigns when we show it to consumers. We have a way of tracking how we’re doing in terms of awareness and in terms of relevance. We like to call this the top quadrant when we have the highest scores. We truly believe this is a campaign that is breaking through our target audience. We tested the first spot and we got these great scores and then we tested a second spot and it was the same.
The bottom line is it’s a campaign that is very likeable to fans because it’s about two key things and that’s my interpretation of the results. One is boxing, which is the passion point for the Hispanic consumer, and the second is the barbecue location, which is a very traditional and important location for Hispanics. Those two things in combination with Sylvester Stallone, which is a celebrity of high stature, it has been a great combination that delivered great results for us.
Eric, what prompted Golden Boy to work with Tecate on this campaign?
Eric Gomez: We have a long relationship with Tecate. When we first started Golden Boy Promotions, we worked with them early on. We worked with them closely with the brand, we were familiar with a lot of the executives, with the people who worked with Tecate. We always had a very good relationship. We like to say that we’re almost like family and I think Gustavo would agree.
For some time, we got away from Tecate and started working with Corona for a little bit but ultimately we found our way back and we’ve been working together for the last three years, the last two and a half years, more or less. It’s been very successful. They have a level of professionalism in the way they promote and market their brand that we try to emulate with Golden Boy and we try to do the same thing.
What was important to them was we try to come up with premiere events right around Cinco de Mayo and September 16th. We had the same vision. We’ve been working hand-in-hand and we’ve been very successful.
We’ve done a great job of bringing Canelo along and making him into the superstar he is now. We knew early on that there’s one or two guys out there that was going to make a super, mega event and Golovkin was one of them. One of them was Floyd Mayweather. We ended up doing that fight a few years back but after Mayweather and we said “who is the guy we can target and build a fight?” and it was Golovkin. When we got together with Tecate and said this is the guy who would eventually have a super, mega event and to see this come to fruition now is what we work for. It’s our Super Bowl. This is our Super Bowl.
In the NFL, they have the Super Bowl once a year and it’s very succesful. It generates a lot of attention, a lot of money. In baseball, they have the World Series, in NBA the Finals but in boxing, we really don’t have that. A lot of it we got from Oscar’s career. When Oscar fought on those important dates, which are important dates for the Mexican public and a lot of Latinos, those were kind of like our Super Bowl. Now, that’s what we try to emulate. Tecate’s been very supportive and basically helped so that we can make these events big and the way they market these events really is like a Super Bowl.
I’m very happy with the promotion. Tecate’s been very supportive. The amount of dollars they’ve poured in is probably the biggest they’ve ever done. For us, it’s a pleasure working with them.
Guerra: Of course we’re looking to engage with people but at the end it’s just to recognize Mexican-Americans. I am Mexican myself and I have lived in the US for the past five years and I think we all have the same spirit and the brand just wants to showcase and put it up front in our campaign. If you’re talking about this and the way Canelo is fighting and the way he’s taking his job as a fighter and a lot of value that we share with the brand, it’s kind of a no-brainer to think outside of the box a little bit, not necessarily about boxing but to mirror this fighting spirit that Canelo has in some other fields as well represented by some other Mexican-Americans. I think it has been a very unique opportunity to tell our story in a very different way, which was kind of expected from before.
The recent 24/7 HBO special does a great job of painting GGG as a national hero in his native Kazakhstan. It makes sense to elevate Canelo in a similar fashion.
Gomez: In many ways, that’s what makes this fight is that both guys are the top athletes in their country. Canelo’s not only the top boxer but, right now, arguably, he’s the number one athlete they have in Mexico. You think of all the great stars they have in soccer, he probably surpassed them and the same holds true for Golovkin. He’s probably the hottest commodity out of Kazakhstan. That’s what makes it huge and the fact that they’re coming together in this great country that’s made up of foreigners just makes it more special.
Yeah, there’s an almost political scope about it which I hate to point out but it’s practically impossible not to.
Gomez: These two guys have been very successful building their careers here in the United States. The public loves them, they’re very entertaining. They’re both from other countries but the American dream is available if you work hard. That’s kind of the message. These guys are here and they’re grabbing the world’s attention in the US. This is not their country but they’ve been adopted here because of what they do.
What’s the atmosphere like at Golden Boy right now with the fight just two weeks away?
Gomez: Canelo’s at the last stage. He’s looking great. This week is maintaining and the last stages of his training. He’s already in shape. The reality is they go into these training camps for the past two months and they’re such great athletes. He was ready to fight a month ago! He’s getting his mind conditioned for war. Us here at Golden Boy are just tying up all the loose ends. It’s very exciting! We live for these events. It takes years sometimes to put together these events.
Speaking of which, I think most fans aren’t fully aware of the complexities behind putting together a fight as big as this one.
Gomez: What I said to a lot of the media or fans that ask me “why didn’t you make this fight sooner?” is there’s things that have to happen. I’m a big baseball fan. I wish I could always see the Dodgers face the Yankees in the World Series. That’s not going to happen but I know that when it does happen, it’s special. If you get that all the time, then it wouldn’t be special. In the pennant race, you wish the Red Sox could always play the Yankees. It doesn’t happen all the time but when it does happen, it’s special. The same holds true with boxing. There’s a natural process in getting to a big fight. If you really analyze this, the fans really only had to wait two years or a little less for this fight. It was worth the wait.
The fight probably wouldn’t have as much hype or expectation as it does now had it happened a year ago either.
Gomez: You’re absolutely correct. It’s all part of the process [and] part of the promotion. You can’t always get what you want when you want it but, at the end, they’re getting it. The fans are going to react to it. All the signs are very, very positive right now. It’s still too early to forecast how we’re going to do pay-per-view wise but if the gate is any indication, it’s going to be huge. We sold out the gate in nine days. For us at Golden Boy, it’s a record. It’s the biggest gate we’ve ever done. It’s bigger than when Oscar fought Mayweather and bigger than when Canelo fought Mayweather.
He’s taking this fight seriously and he’s finally grown into his body. He’s finally a man. A lot of guys are used to watching Canelo a few years back when he was still growing. He was 23, 24. Now, he’s a man. He just turned 27. It’s not a young kid’s body anymore, it’s a man’s body and he’s always worked very hard in camp but he knows that this is a special fight and he knows that he can’t leave any stone unturned. I was talking to his manager and trainer, Chepo, yesterday and was asking hjm questions and he was telling me the kid was so motivated.