By Sean Jones: Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya says David Lemieux could be the backup option for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s next fight if the negotiations with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin don’t result in an agreement for their rematch in 2018. Earlier on Tuesday, it was announced that Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs) and WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) have agreed to a deal for a fight on December 16 on HBO Championship Boxing from Place Bell, Laval, Canada.
Lemieux is now in the position to give Golden Boy Promotions and Saul Canelo Alvarez a valuable bargaining piece if he can beat Saunders to take his WBO title. Canelo probably doesn’t care one bit about winning the WBO tile. Canelo doesn’t hold onto titles. He wins them and gives them up after defending them a couple of times against select opposition like Amir Khan. I don’t think it’s important for Canelo to win belts any longer. He’s popular enough to make big money without the need of belts.
Having a title can be a real nuisance for a fighter like Canelo, because he would be required occasionally to defend them against the mandatory challengers picked out by the sanctioning bodies. As we saw with Canelo vacating his World Boxing Council middleweight title to avoid a fight with Golovkin in 2016, Canelo isn’t going to follow the orders by the sanctioning bodies. He’s going to fight whoever he wants to.
Having Lemieux as the WBO champion, if he beats Saunders, will enable Canelo to fight him for the belt, and he would escape criticism from a lot of boxing fans for not fighting a rematch with GGG. Canelo can say he wanted to fight Lemieux for his WBO belt. If Lemieux isn’t a world champion, then the fans would wonder why he’s avoiding a rematch with Golovkin in order to fight a non-champion like Lemieux. The WBO belt makes Lemieux a great chess piece for Canelo to use if he doesn’t get the deal he and Golden Boy Promotions are looking for from Golovkin and Loeffler.
“I do want to come to terms and make that rematch [for Alvarez] with [Golovkin], but if we can’t come to terms, and Lemieux looks spectacular in winning the title from Saunders, that’s another option for Canelo,” De La Hoya said to the latimes.com.
It doesn’t sound good that De La Hoya is talking about worst case scenarios about the Canelo-Golovkin rematch negotiations. It almost sounds like this could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The fact that De La Hoya is talking about the Canelo vs. GGG negotiations possibly not working out means that he might play hardball with Triple G and his promoter Tom Loeffler in trying to get the best deal possible for his fighter.
It’s understood that Golovkin and Loeffler will cave on Canelo and Golden Boy wanting the rematch to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada. That’s not where Golovkin and Loeffler want the rematch to take place, but they’ll let Canelo and Golden Boy get their way. But if Golden Boy chooses to make an offer that Golovkin and Loeffler feel is unfair, they’re probably not going to agree to it. Having Lemieux there as the backup option for Canelo obviously helps. It gives Golden Boy a bargaining chip to hold over Golovkin and Loeffler’s head. If they don’t like the deal offered to them, then Golden Boy can remind them that they have Lemieux waiting to accept a fight with Canelo, and he’ll obviously agree to lesser money.
Canelo vs. Lemieux would do well on HBO PPV. It would still be a dangerous fight for Canelo, as Lemieux is not a soft touch like many of the guys the Golden Boy star has been matched again. Lemieux has the punching power to take the judges out of the equation. With Lemieux’s power, you could have the same judges score his fight with Canelo that worked the Canelo-GGG fight last month on September 16, they wouldn’t have any bearing on the outcome of the fight. That’s the good thing about Lemieux. He’s not vulnerable as much to being robbed as Golovkin is right now, as GGG has suddenly become a boxer in his last 2 fights, and he’s no longer pressing for knockouts for some reason. Lemieux would be looking to knock Canelo, because that’s how he fights, and he would know ahead of time that he might be robbed if he lets the fight go to the scorecards.
“This fight’s a tremendous opportunity for Lemieux. He’d become the missing piece of the puzzle,” De La Hoya said.
This is the WBO belt that Golovkin has been after for over a year now. Golovkin wanted to fight Saunders since last year, but he’s been unable to get the British fighter to agree to take the fight. Saunders wanted a good deal for him to sign for a unification fight with GGG. Now it’s no longer possible for Saunders to make a deal with Golovkin. Saunders has to deal with Lemieux, and it could be a real nightmare for the British fighter that he won’t soon forget.
With the agreement for a fight against WBO champion Saunders, Lemieux, 28, is poised to grab an important piece of the middleweight puzzle with the World Boxing Organization 160 lb. belt. It’s important because it would help validate a fight between Lemieux and Canelo in the eyes of the boxing public. It’s also important considering that it gives Canelo and Golden Boy leverage to exact a better deal with Golovkin and his promoters at K2 Promotion for the May 5 rematch.
If Canelo and Golden Boy aren’t able to get Golovkin and his promoter Tom Loeffler to agree to their terms that they’ll be putting on the table, then they can move on sign Lemieux as the backup plan. This would give Canelo a way out, and it would also give Golovkin and Loeffler time to think about the way things are going to need to be for them to get the rematch with Canelo. Using Lemieux as a backup plan would likely only work once, however. If Canelo beats Lemieux decisively, then it would be pointless to try and stall on the Golovkin rematch much longer.
Canelo would have to take the rematch or else he’d be pressured to fight the good middleweights like Jermall Charlo, Sergiy Derevyanchenko or Daniel Jacobs. Those guys might beat Canelo. Those would be tough fights, and the money would be less for Canelo than it would be if he fought Golovkin again. So, Lemieux would only give Golden Boy and Canelo a little time before they’d have to come back to the bargaining table for a remach with Golovkin. The alternatives for Canelo are very bad. We saw clearly in Canelo’s fight with Golovkin last September that he’s really too small for the middleweight division in terms of arm length, and he doesn’t’ have the gas tank to fight hard enough for 3 minutes of every round to win them in a conclusive manner.