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Hopkins says Jermall Charlo must earn Canelo Alvarez fight

Bernard Hopkins Gennady Golovkin

By Dan Ambrose: Bernard Hopkins of Golden Boy Promotions says World Boxing Council interim WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo will need to “earn” his fight against Saul Canelo Alvarez by beating some top names in the sport where he’s the underdog in the fight before he’ll be considered for a crack at the Mexican fighter, who now holds the WBC and WBA 160 pound titles after beating champion Gennady Golovkin last Saturday night.

Canelo wants to make his first defense of his WBC middleweight title on December 15. His promoter Oscar De La Hoya says David Lemieux is a possible option for that fight.

“I think Jermall Charlo has to fight somebody,” Hopkins said to Fighthype in discussing why Canelo doesn’t have to fight Jermall. ”I think anybody has to fight somebody where they’re in dangerous and can be the underdog in that they can be beat. I think you have to earn the right by names by which you’ve done, not who you are,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins fails to mention that Canelo would need to pay Charlo a step aside fee for him to go around having to fight him, because he is the WBC mandatory challenger. Charlo is long past having earned the right to fight for the WBC title. It’s academic now that Charlo has earned the right to fight for the WBC title. If you’re following the sport in terms of rules and not just making stuff up as you go along, Charlo is Canelo’s WBC mandatory and that fight will need to take place at some point if Alvarez wants to keep the belt. Canelo can’t circumvent the process just because Charlo hasn’t earned the fight in Hopkins’ eyes. What’s more important is Charlo has earned the right to fight for the WBC middleweight title in the WBC’s eyes by winning his WBC title eliminator in 2017 in defeating Jorge Sebastian Heiland by a 4th round knockout.

If Charlo were to have to fight someone where he’d been an underdog in order to earn a fight against Canelo, he would need to fight Golovkin, because he’s likely the only one in the middleweight division right now that would be favored over Charlo. Golovkin isn’t going to fight Charlo though, and neither are the other op middleweights – Billy Joe Saunders, Daniel Jacobs, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Demetrius Andrade or Ryota Murata. None of those fighters are going to willingly fight Charlo, because they don’t have to and he’s too risky of an opponent. So if Charlo needs to fulfill Hopkins’ requirements that he beats someone where he’s the underdog before he can get a fight against Canelo, it might take many, many years and never happen. If none of those fighters ever fight Charlo, then Canelo can put him on ignore permanently without fighting him, which would be ridiculous because he’s his mandatory challenger to his WBC belt.

What might make it a problem for Hopkins to get his wish of Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs) needing to earn the fight against Canelo is the fact that he’s ALREADY been made the mandatory challenger after earning the spot by beating Jorge Sebastian Heiland by a 4th round knockout last year in July 2017, and then defeating Hugo Centeno Jr. by a 2nd round knockout last April to win the interim WBC middleweight title. Charlo has technically earned the fight against Canelo, as long as the Golden Boy star is going to hold onto his WBC 160 pound title. If Canelo wants to vacate the WBC title, then Hopkins’ comments about Charlo needing to earn the fight against him would apply. In the sport of boxing, champions is required to defend their belts against their mandatory challengers when ordered by the sanctioning bodies to face them. The titles aren’t just for adornment by the champions. They’re required to defend them against the mandatory challengers that fight for the position and earn it by beating contenders picked out by the different sanctioning bodies. In this case, the WBC selected Heiland to face Charlo last year in their WBC middleweight title eliminator. Charlo’s win over Heiland made him the WBC mandatory challenger. If Canelo wants to circumvent having to defend against his mandatory Charlo, then he can try and persuade him to accept a step aside fee so that he can fight someone else instead. However, it’s unlikely Charlo will agree to a step aside fee, because he wants his title shot at the WBC belt and has already been waiting 14 months for his rightful fight.

”If we start thinking about what they’ve done to be able to justify their earning in the step of the process, and that process is you don’t fight a super figher like Canelo based on you being undefeated, based on you being a new face, but a face that’s getting more familiar with people in the boxing world, but not mainstream people in society. There’s a difference,” Hopkins said.

Charlo is the mandatory for Canelo’s WBC title. I’m not sure what Hopkins is talking about. I could be wrong but it sounds to like Hopkins is saying that Canelo doesn’t need to defend against his mandatory challengers. If Canelo is able to bypass having to fight his mandatory challengers, then the WBC needs to change their rules for their champions so that they only have to make voluntary defenses against whomever they want. If the WBC does that across the board, then they’ll set up a situation in which their champions will be able to fight lesser opposition of their choosing so that they can keep their titles for as long as possible.

It’s already clear that many champions tend to select weak opposition when making voluntary defenses. That’s a common practice for champions. Generally speaking, the champions only fight good contenders when they’re forced to by the sanctioning bodies after they order the fights. Champions will occasionally fight other contenders and champions if the money is worthwhile and if they believe they can win. What’s rare is for champions to make voluntary defenses against highly talented contenders that have a chance of beating them. So if Canelo doesn’t have to fight his mandatory challengers because they haven’t earned the right to fight him by following Hopkins’ criteria, then it means the Golden Boy star will be able to milk his WBC title for as long as he likes by fighting whoever he wishes.

”So Canelo would actually be doing Jermall a favor by giving him the light at this stage,” Hopkins said. ”You’ve got to earn you’re position, young bull. You have to pay your dues and understand you can’t bully your way into getting into this position You have to earn your way into this position,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins might not have been keeping up with what’s going on with the WBC, but the reality is, Charlo HAS earned the position to fight Canelo for his WBC title. Charlo IS Canelo’s mandatory challenger. Of course, Charlo can’t force Canelo to fight him. Canelo can always vacate his WBC title if he wishes not to fight him. But as the champion, Canelo will need to fight Charlo sooner or later. If the WBC orders Canelo to fight Charlo, then there’s only three options available to him. Canelo can A. vacate the WBC belt. B. Fight Charlo C. pay him a step aside fee.

It’s going to look bad on Canelo’s part if he vacates his WBC title rather than fights Charlo, because it’s going to reinforce the opinion that many boxing fans have about him being a ducker. Yeah, Canelo fight Golovkin like the people wanted him to, but he waited three years until he was 35-years-old before he finally did face him. Even then, Canelo was involved in two controversial decisions which many fans believe he should have lost. Canelo can’t wait out the 28-year-old Charlo, because he’s not older than him. He’s the same age. If Canelo waits three to five years before fighting Charlo, he’ll be taking a gamble that may not work. Charlo might age better than him, and be a harder fight than he would be right now. A lot of boxing fans believe Charlo has the talent to beat Canelo given his size, power, and jab. Charlo is four inches taller than the 5’8” Canelo with a 3 1/2” reach. It’s a bad size match-up for Canelo to fight someone with that kind of size advantage over him. But if Canelo vacates his WBC title, he’s going to look like he’s ducking Charlo and that’s going to look bad.

Trainer Robert Garcia thinks the WBC is powerless to force Canelo to face Charlo. Garcia says they can’t force him to take that fight, as they found out what happens when you do try and force Canelo to defend his titles against opposition that he doesn’t wish to face. He vacates his titles. Canelo did that in 2016 when the WBC ordered him to face then 34-year-old Golovkin, who was arguably fighting at a higher level than he was when he fought him 1 ½ years later in September 2017. Canelo was supposed to fight GGG, but he chose to take an interim fight against welterweight Amir Khan. After that fight, Canelo vacated his WBC title instead of facing his WBC mandatory Golovkin.

”They’re [World Boxing Council] are going to try and force it [the WBC mandatory for Canelo], but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” trainer Robert Garcia said to Esnewsreporing about the WBC potentially ordering Canelo Alvarez to defend against his WBC mandatory challenger Jermall Charlo. ”Canelo already did it [vacated WBC 160 pound title] before when they tried to force him to fight so and so [Gennady Golovkin in 2016], and he said, ‘F—k you guys, and then just vacated the title,” Garcia said.

Canelo vacated his WBC title in 2016, like Garcia says, but it was a bad look for him in causing him to lose boxing fans for swerving GGG. The hardcore boxing fans didn’t understand why Canelo would bypass his mandatory challenger Golovkin to fight a welterweight in Amir Khan first, and then vacate the WBC title when it was time for him to defend it against GGG. It made Canelo look like he was scared of Golovkin. Although Canelo did eventually face Golovkin in 2017 and wind up with a controversial 12 round draw in a fight that he appeared to lose in Las Vegas, he didn’t fight him until he was 35-years-old. The perception from a lot of people is Canelo and his promoters at Golden Boy waited until Triple G was old enough and looking worn down before fighting him.

”160,” Garcia said when asked what weight division Canelo’s next fight will be a. ”I don’t think he’ll come back down to 154. I think 160. That’s where he’s going to stay at and defend his title at 160,” Garcia said.

Garcia is right about Canelo likely staying at 160, because he probably can’t melt down to 154 or his old self-created catch-weight class of 155 pounds to fight. Canelo is getting older, and melting own to that weight has got to be hard for him to accomplish. But if Canelo is going to be making defenses of his WBC title, he’s going to need to defend against Charlo sooner or later if he wants to keep it. The WBC aren’t going to shiver and cringe at the thought of Canelo vacating their title if they order him to face Charlo. The WBC are likely happy that a popular fighter like Canelo is now holding their belt, but that’s not going to keep he organization from enforcing their periodic mandatory defenses. Canelo would make a mockery of the WBC if he’s allowed to ignore his mandatory challengers to face whoever he wishes as their champion. If Canelo is as good as his promoters at Golden Boy Promotions believe him to be, then he should have no problems with defending his WBC belt against Charlo. It should be easy work for Canelo, right? But if Canelo isn’t as good as his promoters at Golden Boy believe him to be, then perhaps it’s best that he swerve the Charlo fight. One way for Canelo to escape being pressured by the WBC to fight Charlo is if he gives up the WBC title as soon as possible. Canelo is now in the hot seat right now in holding down the WBC title with Charlo breathing down his neck as his WBC mandatory challenger. The WBC is like a hot potato. As long as the WBC hasn’t ordered him to fight Charlo, then he’ll be alright. But once that happens, then it’s bad news for Canelo if he decides he doesn’t want to face him.

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