By Sean Jones: Canelo Alvarez WON’T be fighting Ryota Murata in Japan next May, according to ESPN.mx. Apparently if that fight is going to happen, it won’t on Canelo’s next fight date on May 2. Instead, the options are super middleweight champions Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders.
Canelo is expected to make a decision on his next opponent within a week, and it’s predictable that he’ll go for the weakest link among Callum and Saunders. The light hitting Saunders is now likely back in the frontrunner position for the fight with Canelo.
Billy Joe has looked dreadful since moving up to 168 after holding down a world title for a three years as the WBO 160-lb strap holder. After narrowly beating Andy Lee to win the WBO belt in 2015, Saunders arguably milked the title for the next three years facing guys like Willie Monroe Jr. and Artur Akavov.
Canelo won’t attract many U.S fans fighting Saunders or Callum
The major negative about Canelo potentially fighting Saunders or Callum is the U.S fans have no interest in either of those fights. Saunders has looked mediocre throughout his career, seen as a weakest link at 160 and 168 among the champions. He doesn’t have a fan base to speak of in the U.S.
As for Callum, he’s even more of an unknown in the States, and he’s coming off of a controversial 12 round decision over John Ryder. The U.S fans want to see Canelo fight Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo, Gennadiy Golovkin, Davis Benavidez, Caleb Plant or Artur Beterbiev.
Saunders has yet to face a quality fighter during his career, and he recently struggled horribly in beating fringe contender Marcelo Esteban Coceres last September. Billy Joe was getting battered by the little known Argenteniian fighter Coceres before pulling out the fight in stopping him in the 11th.
Recently there was a lot of talk about Canelo looking to face 34-year-old WBA ‘regular’ middleweight champion Murata (16-2, 13 KOs) on May 2 in Japan. Murata is a huge star in Japan, and a fight between him and Canelo would be seen by millions of Japanese fans.
Alvarez fighting Murata wouldn’t have gone over well
Canelo fighting Murata would have been a BUSINESS level fight rather than sporting. The main attraction in Canelo facing Murata would be money, and increasing his global fan base.
It would also give the streaming giant DAZN the ability to expand their reach. Murata won’t be next for Canelo in May though, according to ESPN MX. If Canelo does face Murata, it’ll be next year, provided the Japanese fighter is still winning. He’s already lost twice in 2017 to Hassan N’Dam and Rob Brant in 2018.
Few U.S boxing fans will shed any tears at learning that Canelo Alvarez won’t be traveling to fight Murata in Japan on May 2 after all. For one, Murata isn’t a well known fighter among casuals in the United States. Secondly, it would be a huge hardship for Canelo’s loyal fans to have to go through the expense of traveling to Japan to watch him fight a guy that has already been beaten twice.
To add to that, Murata has looked pedestrian in high toughest fights of his career against arguably fringe level fighter. Some fans see Murata as a ‘PAPER CHAMPION.’ That means someone that got a hold of a title by facing weak opposition.
Hearn will be happy with Canelo picking Saunders or Smith
Callum and Saunders are with DAZN, and signed with Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn. Unless Canelo wants to be daring by taking on Jermall Charlo, Dmitry Bivol or Artur Beterbiev, the 2 main options for his next bout at Callum and Saunders. That’s gotta make Hearn happy, because he’ll finally be able to put one of those two into a meaningful fight.
The 6’3” Callum did fight George Groves in September 2018, but that was a fight that only resonated in the UK and not worldwide. Additionally, Groves was coming off of a bad left shoulder injury in his fight with Chris Eubank Jr. in February 2018, and he wasn’t the same fighter seven months later when he Callum in the final of the World Boxing Super Series tournament in September 2018.
Hearn will be immensely pleased if Canelo chooses Callum or Saunders. The holidays would be coming early for Hearn if Canelo elects to fight either of those guys, because it would play well in the UK. Neither of those fighters have huge fan bases in the UK, so they would be helped by Canelo facing them. Even if Canelo embarrasses Saunders or Callum, their popularity would grow from having faced him.