By George Priestman: Pound for Pound king Saul’ Canelo’ Alverez was primed to face two-weight World Champion Billy Joe Saunders back in May until the world ground to a halt. It has left the Mexican champion in limbo with regards to who he will face next. However, who he will meet is anyone’s guess right now, and boxing politics have become both more straightforward and more complex in this challenging time.
While coronavirus has affected every sport differently, not many have been affected like Boxing. In a game that contains a whole host of promoters, companies and TV deals, fans often feel as if they are unrewarded for their continued support. Big fights don’t usually get made, and it has become even more challenging in the current climate. All those factors come into play when Golden Boy Promotions sit down to choose their next fight for their main man.
Oscar De La Hoya has confirmed Canelo’s next fight will be announced imminently, which makes this the perfect time to speculate and also analyze who are the realistic choices for a fall 2020 clash that can reignite Boxing at the highest level. We assess the options from the practical to the unlikely.
Billy Joe Saunders
With news being somewhat confusing at the current time, especially involving a fight like this, it’s essential to rule out Saunders from facing Canelo next. He, in an interview with IFL TV on YouTube, claimed that lockdown had made the fight impossible to be made and that the money wasn’t right. And he was stating that the biggest fight of his career would not be on his terms.
He had also put on weight over the lockdown period and wanted extra time to lose before the September bout, time that Golden Boy promotions were not willing to give the Hertfordshire born fighter.
British fans especially are extremely disappointed as it seemed this was the right that Saunders had worked towards throughout his whole career. Will he get a chance like this again? Or does it open the door to face fellow Brit Callum Smith in a mammoth unification fight on home soil?
Unquestionably Canelo’s best and hardest fight of his career to date (other than the Mayweather loss) was against the Middleweight bogeyman Gennady Golovkin. The pair tussled for 24 rounds over two matches with almost nothing to separate them as they (controversially) drew the first while Canelo edged the second.
Despite that victory, many believe there is unfinished business and that a trilogy fight has to happen to settle the score once and for all. Rumors are that the pair are in talks, with May 2021 being touted as the potential date. Therefore, he won’t be the opponent come the fall of this year.
Instead, Golovkin will face unknown Kamil Szeremeta and must win and look good to force the big fight. Canelo would no doubt be the favorite when the fight does take place, with Golovkin nearing 40 and starting to wind down.
Out of all the options on this list, this fight makes the most sense from a boxing and media standpoint. To reignite Boxing, a recognizable name has to come over onto US Streaming giant DAZN. Who better than the ring magazine, WBA Super-Middleweight World Champion Callum Smith?
According to reports, he has been offered $5million for the fight, one million less than the six wanted. Whether or not Smith wants to take on his biggest ever fight in these circumstances is highly debatable. Never mind the money being talked about being a low figure for the magnitude of the task and potential opponent stood across from him in the ring. After all, Daniel Jacobs received $12million, so you can bet Smith and his team are holding out for more.
It’s the main reason why Saunders stepped down from the fight, and Smith may be better waiting to either: receive a higher offer for the Canelo fight or hold out for the unification bout with Saunders for guaranteed more significant money. However, while this is the big fight for Smith, he has options, and he’s better off waiting it out for a better deal or a more realistic match.
After the big names have all been examined, they all have the same thing in common – they all have plenty of factors involved which can make or (more likely) break the fight. As negotiations get tougher with the more prominent names, it makes sense for DAZN to bring in fighters who have challenged for the world title before.
John Ryder is a talented boxer with a record of 28-5, which doesn’t flatter the skilled fighter. He did also challenge for the world title against Smith in November. However, for the majority of fans, he won the fight against Smith and was duly robbed. He could cause Canelo problems as he is a southpaw, who Canelo isn’t wholly comfortable against, he’s a skilled technician, and he would be ready to go if the call comes.
The downside is that it isn’t exactly a fight that will see American fans rushing to re-subscribe to their DAZN accounts. Fans want to see him fight the best world champions, and Ryder isn’t that. However, it could be the most realistic for those on this list.
Willie Monroe Junior
In recent days, Willie Monroe Junior has been very vocal, claiming he wants the Mexican champion as his next fight. Perhaps the lowest level fighter on this list, he has fought for the world title on two occasions against Golovkin and Saunders. He stakes a minimal claim to what would be his most significant night in Boxing.
Outclassed by Saunders a few years ago, he was stopped by Golovkin, showing the difference in levels. With a record of (24-3), he could come in with the ‘nothing to lose, everything to gain’ attitude. He’s also a southpaw, which could cause issues for Canelo. However, the lack of punch power would be an issue with only 6 KO’s on his résumé.
Another name, another champion. Andrade has been a champion for a while now but hasn’t piled up any big names on his boxing CV. He was scheduled to face Saunders back in 2017, but the fight fell through because of Saunders’ failed doping test.
With a record of 29-0, he is a big fish in the division, and 32 the time is now to take on the big fights. Whether it is Canelo, Saunders, or Smith, he needs to get involved at the top end of the division.
Hear me out with this one. Eddie Hearn claimed he offered four fighters over to Canelo’s promoters, and light heavyweight champion Bivol was one of them. He called out Canelo back in February, claiming his goal was to meet Canelo at 175.
At that weight, Canelo dismantled Sergey Kovalev stopping the big Russian to become a four-weight World Champion. However, Bivol claimed the fight at 168 was also an option, and it would be worth the risk of dropping down in weight. “Of course,” Bivol said. “Not for money, (but) for my legacy. For my history. I can make this weight.”
At 17-0 (11 KOs), Bivol is used to fighting bigger, harder-hitting men than Canelo, but competing at 168 as a pro would be a first, and he could fall victim to fighting and training at a weight he’s not used to. However, it can be done, and he’s clear he’s ready to do whatever for the big fight – whether at 175 or 168.
As we near the announcement of the fight, there is still a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of hypothetical situations. The only thing we know for sure is that the third fight for Golovkin and Canelo would proceed the coming battle in September or at least be the big money fight.
Fighting Canelo should be an honor as he is seen as one of, if not the biggest name in Boxing. These fighters are all fighting to get the chance of glory and legacy. I would love to see him fight another world champion, but I guess we can just wait and see what comes next in the career of Saul’ Canelo’ Alverez.
It’s clear that fights are harder to make, especially world level ones. The lack of fans that would be in attendance downgrades the nature of the event, among other factors. Although, the break in the sport has put a lot of things in perspective for fighters, and some don’t want to waste any time in delaying big world title fights.
Whoever Canelo fights, it will be an immense challenge and, simultaneously, a bumper event. Expect negotiations to continue as many will want a tune-up before looking to fight big names late this year or even early next year. Fight fans rejoice as Boxing is back but strap yourselves in for the predictable, incessant politics that will be more complex than ever.