Arum expects Canelo to face Andrade in September, and Kovalev in December
By Pete Axline: Top Rank promoter Bob Arum doubts that there will be enough time to put together the fight between Saul Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev for September 14. Arum says that Kovalev’s scheduled opponent for August 24, Anthony Yarde, is willing to take a step aside fee so that the Canelo-Kovalev fight can take place, but he doubts the match can be negotiated quickly enough for it to happen in September.
Arum: Kovalev fights Yarde in August, and Canelo in December
What Arum expects to happen is Kovalev will proceed with his title defense against mandatory Yarde on August 24 in Russia, and then he’ll face Canelo Alvarez in December if everything goes well. Kovalev will need to beat Yarde for the Canelo fight to take place, but he likely have no problems doing that. Yarde is an inexperienced fighter with an arguably inflated ranking by the World Boxing Organization, and zero wins over quality opposition.
“Canelo wants to fight Kovalev for another title. DAZN is talking to Golden Boy, the promoter. They were expecting the [Gennady] Golovkin fight,” said Arum to IFL TV. “Canelo won’t fight Golovkin. So now at this late date they’ve come to us as the possibility of a Canelo-Kovalev fight happening. The problem is the Kovalev people have an offer outstanding for a fight in Russia against [Anthony] Yarde. Our understanding is Frank [Warren] and Kathy [Duva], if Yarde was asked to step aside, Frank and Yarde would get a substantial payment, and they agreed to that. But everything is coming too close.”
It was always going to be a long shot for Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) to face WBO light heavyweight champion Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) on September 14, because there wasn’t enough time to get that fight made. Canelo’s promoters at Golden Boy Promotions came up with the idea of matching him against Kovalev a little in the game for the fight to be made. Before that, they had been considering Gennady Golovkin and Callum Smith as potential options for the September fight. GGG hurt his cause by fighting Steve Rolls last month on June 8th instead of WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade. That was a careless mistake on Golovkin’s part, but he obviously thought that he would still get the fight with Canelo no matter who he fought. Canelo and Golden Boy’s disinterest in fighting GGG shows that Kazakh should have taken the fight with Andrade last month instead of the little known 35-year-old Rolls.
Canelo can do better than Kovalev
If Kovalev beats Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs) on August 24, then a fight between him and Canelo can potentially take place in December on DAZN. It would be a quick turnaround for Canelo to go from fighting in September against Andrade to facing Kovalev in December. That’s if Canelo and Golden Boy Promotions are still interested in the fight. A lot of things can change by December, and there might someone else that Canelo will want to fight. Kovalev is a good quality light heavyweight, but he’s not the best or even close to being the best. He’s old at 36, and has lost half of his last six fights. Canelo could do far better than Kovalev if he were willing to risk getting getting knocked out against Artur Beterbiev, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Marcus Browne or Dmitry Bivol. Those are ‘the big four’ at 175 now. Kovalev is more on the margins at this point in his career, and no longer one of the elites due to him aging. At this point in Kovalev’s career, he might not be good enough to beat Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez, a relative newcomer to the light heavyweight division.
Kovalev is still a belt holder at 175, so he’s got that going for him. The casual boxing fans in the U.S are more familiar with Kovalev than they are the arguably more talented light heavyweights, but Canelo doesn’t seem interested in fighting the better guys at 175. He wants Kovalev. Some would argue that Canelo sees weakness in the aging Kovalev, and he wants to take of it by picking up an easy belt. Some compare Canelo’s interest in going after an older Kovalev to how he waited until Golovkin was 35 before he fought him for the first time.
Kovalev was never considered to be the best at 175. Adonis Stevenson was viewed as the best during Kovalev’s prime. Later, Andre Ward moved up to light heavyweight, and beat Kovalev twice. Kovalev hasn’t been the same since those loses.
Arum: Demetrius Andrade is Canelo’s likely opponent for September
“So my feeling is Kovalev and Yarde will proceed sometime in August in Russia,” said Arum. “If Kovalev wants that fight, a fight with Canelo can take place in the winter of this year. I don’t think it’s possible to put it together for September 14th. Yarde would much prefer to go directly into the Koalev fight. I don’t think that’s going to happen. Yarde and Frank are satisfied with the contract for the fight to be held in Russia on the 24th of August. If Kovalev is not available, because there’s not enough time to put it together, then I think Canelo will fight in September, and [Demetrius] Andrade would likely be the opponent, because he also fights on DAZN for Eddie Hearn, and would certainly be willing to go into a Canelo fight. That’s my present understanding. If I would bet on it, that’s what I would bet on happening,” said Arum.
There’s not a lot of interest from boxing fans in the U.S in a fight between Canelo and Andrade. This is a fight that Canelo would be purely taking for the sole reason of winning the WBO 160 pound title from the unbeaten Andrade (28-0, 17 KOs) to become the unified middleweight champion. Some fans would argue that Canelo still won’t be the unified middleweight champion if he beats Andrade, because the World Boxing Council, because he’s now the ‘Franchise middleweight champion’ as of last week.
The WBC moved interim champion Jermall Charlo into Canelo’s spot as the new WBC middleweight champion. Canelo was given the Franchise tag by the WBC, which means that he’s holding a belt that can’t be lost. If Canelo loses to Andrade, he would still be the Franchise champion. It’s a crazy thing, but it frees up Canelo, while at the same time creates a new champion. The move likely is a positive for the WBC in terms of sanctioning fees. Instead of having one champion at middleweight, the WBC now has two.
Andrade didn’t perform well in his title defense last Saturday night against Maciej Sulecki. Demetrius won the fight, but he looked tired, older than his 31 years, and he was putting most of his efforts into his defense. There wasn’t much offense to speak of from Andrade, and a lot of boxing fans complained afterwards that it was a boring fight to watch. Canelo will probably need to go after Andrade the entire fight if he wants to make it entertaining for the fans.