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Canelo Alvarez vs. Ryota Murata reportedly agreed for May 23 in Japan

Canelo Alvarez boxing photo

By Sean Jones: A fight between Saul Canelo Alvarez and Ryota Murata is said to have been agreed on for May 23, according to Forbes. The fight will take place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan on May 24. It’ll be on May 23 U.S time, as Japan is ahead of U.S time by 14 to 17 hours.

Murata has been promoted by Top Rank since 2013, but he’s failed at winning over a fan base in the U.S. Part of the problem is the weak opposition that Murata has been facing. But the biggest issue that Murata is he keeps losing to the low quality guys that he’s fighting.

It’s next to impossible to build Murata as a star with him losing to fringe contenders. After 7 years, Murata still is a complete unknown with the casual boxing fans in the U.S, and the hardcore fans see him as a flawed guy that has been carefully matched from day one.

It’s more than a little strange that Canelo WON’T be fighting on his normal date on Cinco de Mayo on holiday weekend on May 2. To be sure, that’ll be a major disappointment to many of Canelo’s Mexican boxing fans if he elects not to fight on that date.

The Canelo-Murata fight still hasn’t been confirmed, so we have to wait and see if this match does actually take place. Earlier this week, ESPN MX revealed that Canelo wouldn’t be fighting the 34-year-old Murata next. Instead, he would choose between super middleweight champions Billy Joe Saunders or Callum Smith for his May 2 fight.

Canelo vs. Murata = business level fight

This fight will do BIG business in Japan where Murata is a household name, and a huge star. Murata won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics. A lot of fans felt that Murata should have lost twice during the 2012 Olympic competition, but the judges gave him the nod in his fights against Abbos Atoev (Uzbekistan) 13:12 and Esquiva Falcao (Brazil) 14:13.

This isn’t a fight that will play out well in the United States, as there’s no interest from American boxing fans in seeing Canelo fight the 34-year-old Murata. Facing Murata instead of an arguably more talented fighter like Jermall Charlo, Gennadiy Golovkin or Callum Smith will be interpreted by some as a MONEY GRAB by Canelo.

Is Canelo picking the weakest link again?

This shouldn’t be shocking that Canelo would take a fight with Murata, who is viewed as the WEAKEST link among the 160-lb champions by a lot of fans. We just witnessed Canelo fighting WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev last November in another fight that was viewed by a lot of fans as a cherry pick on his part. Kovalev, 36, was at one time considered the #1 fighter at 175, but that was long ago. Nowadays, the top light heavyweights are Artur Beterbiev, Dmitry Bivol and Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Canelo chose not to fight any of those fighters, and instead picked Kovalev, who had recently struggled mightily to beat the unheralded Anthony Yarde last August.

Yarde isn’t considered a great fighter, but he had Kovalev on the brink of being knocked out in the 8th. It’s safe to say that the 5’8″ Canelo would have been badly beaten by Beterbiev, Bivol or Gvozdyk. Those are the lions at 175.

Kovalev is arguably a toothless lion now, which might be the reason why Canelo fought him. Andre Ward said that Canelo made a “calculated” decision in picking Kovalev. But he thinks he would have made a poor decision had he fought Beterbiev, who is very dangerous.

It’ll make Canelo money fighting Murata in Japan, as it’ll be watched by millions of fans. It’s not hard to imagine Canelo getting lucrative endorsement deals from Japanese companies in the country.

The Japanese fighter holds the secondary WBA middleweight title, and he’s looked poor in losing to Hassn N’Dam and Rob Brant in the recent past. Although Murata (16-2, 13 KOs) did avenge both loses, the fact that he was beaten by both guys shows his level of talent or lack thereof.

Fighting Murata will make it tough on Canelo’s fans

One other downside of Canelo fighting Murata in Japan is many of the Mexican star’s loyal boxing fans WON’T be able to make the trip to see him in that country. It’s expensive to travel to Japan, and a lot of fans don’t have the time to make a trip like that with their busy lives. However, DAZN, the streaming platform that Canelo fights on, will benefit big time from him fighting Murata.

The American fans that would normally have traveled to see Canelo fight in Las Vegas, which is where he normally fights, will be more inclined to subscribe to DAZN in order to watch him against Murata. It’s not that the fans want to see Canelo fight a no name like Murata. That’s not it.

The fans just want to see Canelo fight, period. Murata is just a body that will be inside the ring with Canelo on the night on May 23, if the fight takes place. DAZN is paying Canelo massive money with the $365 million contract they gave him for 11 fights, and they’ll be able to bring in a lot of new subscribers for this fight.

Like Floyd Mayweather Jr. who fought a horribly over-matched Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in December 2018 in Japan, Canelo can make a massive amount of money fighting Murata in that country at the Saitama Arena. Unlike Mayweather’s exhibition match against the hapless Tenshin, Canelo’s fight with Murata will count as a professional match, but it’s expected to be just as bad a mismatch at Mayweather’s 1st round drubbing of little Tenshin.

Canelo will be huge favorite ove Murata

It’s a win-win for Canelo in fighting Murata, because it’s a match that he can likely win without shifting out of 1st gear. It’s a far easier fight for Canelo than if he had to take a quality fighter like Billy Joe Saunders, Callum Smith, Dmitry Bivol or Jermall Charlo. While Canelo would probably the the favorite in each of those fights, victory wouldn’t be guaranteed, especially against Charlo or Callum. Those guys can punch, and Canelo’s luck with the scoring of his fights might not help against those guys. They would likely beat Canelo so conclusively that judges might not have a chance to score it.

Forbes is listing as one of the sources for the news. Additionally there’s also @YahooNewsTopics

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