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Canelo Alvarez’s list of potential opponents for September

Image: Canelo Alvarez’s list of potential opponents for September

By Sean Jones: Now that Golden Boy Promotions has ruled out middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin as a potential opponent for their flagship star Saul Canelo Alvarez to fight in September on the Mexican Independence Day weekend, here are the current potential options that have been mentioned that could be facing the 28-year-old:

Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan

Daniel Jacobs

Billy Joe Saunders

David Lemieux

Jermall Charlo

Of that list, it’s widely assumed by the boxing public that only the 33-year-old O’Sullivan (28-2, 20 KOs) and Lemieux (39-4, 33 KOs) have a real shot at fighting Canelo on September 15. That’s because those two are A. signed with Golden Boy Promotions B. vulnerable with major flaws C. shorter middleweights D. slow hand speed.

It’s unclear why former IBF middleweight champion Lemieux has emerged as an option for Canelo, because he was beaten badly last December by WBO middleweight champion Saunders by a 12 round decision. Although Lemieux, 29, did come back last Saturday night to beat Karim Achour (26-5-3, 4 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision, it wasn’t a good enough victory for the former IBF belt holder to redeem himself.

Lemieux won the fight by the scores 119-108, 120-107 and 119-107. However, Achour is not a world class fighter. He’s not ranked in the top 15 by any of the four sanctioning bodies, and he was brought in as a body for Lemieux to pick up a badly needed win. It’s doubtful that Golden Boy will take much notice of the criticism they’ll receive if they match Canelo against Lemieux or O’Sullivan.

It’s better to be criticized than for Golden Boy to put Canelo in with a good fighter like Charlo, Saunders or Jacobs and watch him get taken apart. I think this is more about about saving their money guy than anything. If Golden Boy matches Canelo Alvarez against Lemieux or O’Sullivan, you must see the move as them making sure he doesn’t get beaten again.

After the way Canelo fought against Golovkin last September, he needs a win over an easy mark, because he lost that fight in the eyes of the boxing public. The problem is if Canelo keeps fighting easy guys, he’s going to become a laughing stock, because he’s only fought one good fighter since moving up to middleweight and that Golovkin, who arguably beat him last September.

Canelo’s other fights at middleweight were against Amir Khan and Miguel Cotto in catch-weight matches. Canelo moved up to super middleweight last year and beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. by a 12 round unanimous decision in May 2017, but that was a fight that took place at a catch-weight of 164.5 lbs. It wasn’t middleweight. As far as TRUE middleweights go, Canelo has NEVER beaten any fighter from that weight class.

Cotto clearly was never a middleweight, even though he held the WBC title after beating an injured Sergio Martinez by a 10th round knockout in June 2014. The 5’7” Cotto didn’t fight any quality middleweights that were in their prime after he won the WBC title against a gimpy-kneed Sergio Martinez. You can’t count Canelo’s 12 round unanimous decision win over Cotto in November 2015 as a victory over a true middleweight, because the Puerto Rican fighter was little more than a short 5’7” pumped up junior middleweight. Cotto didn’t belong at middleweight, and I think he realized that after he lost to Canelo, because he moved back down in weight to 154. Cotto didn’t even belong at 154, because he never fought any of the good fighters like Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo, Erislandy Lara and Jarrett Hurd in that weight class. When Cotto fought Austin Trout, a decent junior middleweight, he lost to him. As such, Canelo hasn’t fought anyone good at middleweight besides GGG, and he arguably lost to him. So, it makes total sense that Canelo will likely wind up fighting O’Sullivan or Lemieux on September 15 rather than one of the good middleweights, like Jacobs, Derevyanchenko, Saunders or Charlo, because he’s too short for the division and will likely get beaten by all of those fighters.

I hate to say this, but I see the 5’8” Canelo as Cotto 2.0. I think Canelo is just the next generation’s version of Cotto, a small fighter that has moved up to middleweight, and is taking on weaker opposition after an unpleasant experience against Golovkin last September. The Canelo-GGG rematch, if there is ever is one, will likely be a disaster for Canelo, because Golovkin is going to apply constant pressure from close range and wear Canelo down like an old clock and knock him out. Golovkin and any of the top middleweights now realize that Canelo can’t fight hard for more than a minute of every round, and he lacks the punching power to hurt them. They’ll wear him down and stop him.

If Golovkin doesn’t fight Canelo, his promoter Tom Loeffler has already made it clear that he’ll be defending his IBF middleweight title against his mandatory challenger Sergey Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs) next. Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) wants to hold onto his belt, and he 32-year-old Derevyanchenko is no real threat to him. It’s not a fight that appeals to Team GGG because the Ukrainian fighter is a newcomer and not known well enough to attract much interest as an opponent for GGG.

The likely rationale for the International Boxing Federation moving Derevyanchenko to the mandatory position is because of his victories over Tureano Johnson, Sam Soliman and Jessie Nicklow. Tureano is a good fighter with Olympic experience. Derevyanchenko out-boxed Johnson and knocked him out in the 12th.

Golden Boy has put some recent work in building Spike O’Sullivan’s name with the boxing public by putting him on the undercard of Ryan Garcia on May 4 on HBO, and on the undercard of the Saunders vs. Lemieux card last December. O’Sullivan responded well, beating welterweight Berlin Abreu (14-2, 11 KOs) and Antoine Douglas (22-2-1, 16 KOs). Those are not great fighter, but that’s not what those fights were about. I believe the main objective in matching O’Sullivan against those fighters was to build him up as two options for Canelo Alvarez to fight if Golden Boy Promotions are unable to put together the rematch against GGG.

If need be, Golden Boy could feed O’Sullivan and Lemieux to Canelo in back to back fights in September and December, as he plans on fighting twice in the second half of 2018 to make up for his lost date on May 5. Canelo is missing the May 5th date because he was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission after failing two VADA tests for the performance enhancing substance clenbuterol. By Golden Boy matching Canelo against Spike O’Sullivan and Lemieux, they’re stalling the inevitable. They obviously know that they can’t match Canelo against soft jobs for the remainder of his career without him losing his fan base. Eventually, Golden Boy is going to need to let Canelo prove himself against Charlo, Saunders, Derevyanchenko and Jacobs. If Golovkin chooses to be firm at not accepting less than the 50-50 purse split for the Canelo rematch, then the fight might not ever get made unless Golden Boy budges or Team GGG gives in and accepts less. The 65-35 split that has been reported as the offer made to Gennady for the rematch with Canelo is so far off from the 50 percent split that Triple G wants for the fight, it’s hard to picture Golden Boy giving him anywhere close to a 50-50 deal. They obviously want their fighter Canelo to receive the lion’s share of the money – again – for Golovkin fight.

In the Canelo-GGG fight on September 16 last year, Canelo is said to have enjoyed a huge 70-30 split of the revenue, which enabled him to get a purse of $50 million compared to Golovkin’s $20 million. Golden Boy has sweetened the deal by 5 percent for GGG in the rematch with Canelo by offering him a 35 percent cut of the revenue, but that apparently isn’t going to do the job. He wants 50 percent, and many boxing fans believe that he deserves that after Canelo’s two positive tests for clenbuterol.

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