Canelo vs. Chavez Jr: Does this fight break 1M PPV buys?
By Dan Ambrose: Former two division world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) says his fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs) will guarantee fireworks on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The fight may not produce fireworks. It might not be a competitive affair if Chavez Jr’s last 4 performances are any guide. For me, what’s more interesting than talking about Canelo brag about the fight against a B-level fighter like Chavez Jr. is whether the fight will bring in a lot of pay-per-view buys on HBO.
Canelo’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya has been saying that the fight will break records. It might. I don’t think it will though. This is a fight that isn’t being talked about a great deal by the casual boxing fans. It’s just the hardcore fans that are talking about the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight, and they’re really not doing a lot of talking about. If you look at the social media sites and boxing forums on the internet, the fans are still talking about Anthony Joshua, and not discussing the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight.
I think the worst thing that could happen for boxing is if Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. brings in a lot of buys in a one-sided fight from start to finish. Why is it bad? It’s bad because it would show that the 26-year-old Canelo doesn’t need to fight high quality opposition for him to bring in a lot of PPV buys. If Canelo can attract a lot of buys fighting over-matched opposition like Chavez Jr., then why would he ever need to fight the better fighters like Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs or Jermall Charlo.
I don’t think the boxing fans understand this. They think that Canelo will eventually feel the pressure and will opt to fight the best like Golovkin, but that’s not happened thus far and I don’t know that will anytime soon. We’re already hearing that Canelo may end up fighting David Lemieux in September rather than Golovkin.
The Golovkin fight would then be pushed into the future 1 more year and possibly take place in on Cinco De Mayo holiday in May 2018. If Canelo-Chavez Jr. brings in a huge number of PPV buys on HBO for what all intents and purposes is a mismatch, then Canelo has no real need to fight the better guys like Golovkin in dangerous fights.
Canelo doesn’t have to fight the best because he’s popular. So instead of Canelo facing Golovkin in September, we could be seeing Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. II or a fight between Canelo and David Lemieux. To be sure, that’s a good fight, but it’s not a substitute for Canelo facing Golovkin, Jermall Charlo or Jacobs. I think Golden Boy and Canelo are going to keep with the soft match-making until his PPV numbers drop to a number that indicates that the boxing public are tiring of him facing guys from the past that are over-the-hill or arguably mediocre paper champions like Liam Smith, who Canelo’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya said was the best fighter in the 154 lb. division.
The basic problem that could keep the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight from breaking over 1 million or even doing 800,000 buys is the fight isn’t a good one. This is Golden Boy fishing for a fighter that is clearly on the downside of his career in Chavez Jr. and pulling him in to feed to Canelo in the same way they did with James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo. Those were fighters that at one time in their careers they were both doing well 10 years ago. But by the time that Golden Boy selected them to fight Canelo, they were both faded and were no longer relevant fighters. In other words, they were no longer top contenders in the 154 pound division when they were selected to fight Canelo.
Now we’re getting the same kind of opponent in Chavez Jr. to fight Canelo. It’s been so many years since Chavez Jr. was a top fighter that a lot of newer boxing fans don’t know who he is. This is a mismatch between a relevant fighter and a non-relevant fighter in Chavez Jr. Golden Boy is counting on the Mexican boxing fans celebrating Cinco de Mayo to purchase the fight in high numbers. I don’t know that they will.
I believe the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight is going to obviously attract a decent number of passive buys from the many Mexican boxing fans that will be enjoying the Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend on May 6, but it’s the same fans that normally purchase Canelo’s fights. Those same fans only purchased 300,000 buys for Canelo’s last mismatch against Liam Smith. I think there’s a good chance that we won’t get many more than that this Saturday.
I don’t think the Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. fight will do more than the 600,000 buys that Canelo-Amir Khan brought in last year. If Canelo was fighting someone like Miguel Cotto, he would pull in a lot of Puerto Rican boxing fans that would help drive up the numbers, because it would be Canelo’s Mexican fans and Cotto’s Puerto Rican fans. But with Canelo fighting Chavez Jr, it’s not going to be a great deal of additional fans.
I don’t think Chavez Jr. has a lot of boxing fans in the U.S. He’s not fought in the U.S in 2 years since his close 10 round decision win over Marcos Reyes in 2015. I don’t think there are a lot of fans that will still remember Chavez Jr. The newer fans are not going to be aware of who Chavez Jr. is, which means they’re not going to have any real reason to want to buy the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight.
“That [Mayweather-Pacquiao] mega-fight really hurt boxing … but this is a fight,” Alvarez said to the latimes.com Wednesday. “When you have two Mexican fighters in the ring, you’re guaranteed fireworks because we’re both warriors. I’m hoping … we give the people a great fight. … We’ve got more to do.”
The fight will be fireworks like Canelo’s mismatch against Kirkland. Yeah, that fight had fireworks, but it was over with by the 3rd round. It wasn’t competitive.
“We want [Alvarez] to win by knockout,” said Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez to the latimes.com. “That would be exciting and that would get people really interested, but if he has a close fight, like Golovkin did with [Daniel] Jacobs [in March], it still merits a fight with Golovkin.”
Well, if Gomez is serious about wanting to match Canelo against Golovkin next, that’s certainly good news, but we’ve heard for ages that Canelo’s is eventually going to fight GGG, and yet never does. After all the talking from Golden Boy, it now reeks of someone name dropping at the last second in mentioning Golovkin’s name in a desparate attempt to bring in extra PPV buys from boxing fans that are only interested in seeing Canelo fight Golovkin.
Mentioning Golovkin’s name right now is a sure fire way to attract the fans sitting on the fence trying to decide whether to purchase the Canelo-Chavez Jr. fight on HBO PPV or not. For a lot of fans, they don’t like this match-up, because as I mentioned already, Chavez Jr. is no longer a top fighter in the sport in a real sense. Yeah, Chavez Jr. is ranked in the top 10 by the World Boxing Council at super middleweight, but he’s done next to nothing to deserve that high ranking. Chavez Jr. was stopped in the 9th round by Andrzej Fonfara in 2015, and since then he’s beaten 2nd tier middleweight Marcoes Reyes and Dominik Britsch.
“If he’s able to knock out Chavez, that’s the fight that we want,” said Gomez. ”It’s a matter of tying up the loose ends and getting it done. If it’s a close fight, we’ll talk to the kid [Alvarez], but the focus has always been Golovkin in September.”
I don’t believe the focus has always been Golovkin in September. If they’re truly thinking about the Golovkin fight now, I think it’s because of his recent win over Daniel Jacobs. They saw some weakness in Golovkin that they feel that Canelo can exploit.