Canelo focused on unifying at 168, GGG not in his plans

By Boxing News - 11/25/2020 - Comments

By Barry Holbrook: IBF middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin might need to make other plans for 2021 because Canelo Alvarez has made it clear that his immediate goal is to unify the 168-pound division.

Canelo’s trainer Eddy Reynoso said this past week that their immediate focus is on capturing all the belts in the super-middleweight division, starting with WBA Super World champion Callum Smith on December 19th.

If Canelo is serious about unifying the super middleweight division, it could take him a year and a half to two years to accomplish. That would be admirable for Canelo if he could do that, but it would be bad news for GGG.

Canelo needs to beat these champions at 168 to unify:

  • Caleb Plant – IBF
  • Billy Joe Saunders – WBO

Alvarez needs to go after the WBC title

The WBC title is currently vacant, but there’s a possibility that Canelo can still fight for that belt in early 2021 if he lets the World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman that he wishes to face Avni Yildirim for the belt.

Image: Canelo focused on unifying at 168, GGG not in his plans

If Canelo waits to battle for the WBC title later, he’ll likely end up facing David Benavidez, as he’s ranked #1 by the WBC right now. If Benavidez fights Yildirim for the vacant title, it’s almost guaranteed that he’ll obliterate him.

As long as Canelo is good with the idea of fighting Benavidez, he can put off going after the WBC title until later. Assuming that Benavidez is someone that Canelo isn’t eager to face, he should go after the WBC title right away against the badly flawed Yildirim.

There’s a belief out there with some boxing fans that Canelo wants no part of the 6’2″ Benavidez. If that belief is true, he needs to fight for the WBC title before Benavidez recaptures it.

Golovkin would have to wait as long as two years for Canelo to finish unifying the 168lb division if he elects to fight straight through from one champion to another.

Reynoso says Canelo wants to become undisputed at 168

“I think it’s difficult to fight at 160 pounds right now,” said Canelo’s trainer Eddy Reynoso. “The only logical fight at middleweight would be against Gennady Golovkin, but I think even GGG would struggle to make the weight limit.

“For now, we’ll forget about the 160-pound division and focus on becoming undisputed at 168 pounds.

There’s a possibility that Canelo fights three times in 2021 to unify the 168-lb division. If he does that, he’ll become the undisputed champion next year, and then he’ll be free to take on Golovkin in their trilogy match in 2022.

Golovkin will be 40-years-old in 2022, but the fans will still be interested in seeing him and Canelo fight again. As long as Golovkin doesn’t get beaten by anyone in the meantime, he and Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) can meet up in 2022 for the trilogy.

Image: Canelo focused on unifying at 168, GGG not in his plans

Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KO) has chosen to take an easy title-milking fight against a fighter named Kamil Szeremeta (21-0, 5 KOs).

While the official reason for Golovkin facing #1 IBF Szeremeta is he’s his mandatory challenger, but the reality is a little different.

GGG didn’t have to defend against Szeremeta yet

The IBF mandatory wasn’t due, but Golovkin chose to fight it early without the International Boxing Federation ordering the fight. What does that tell you?

When a champion wants to fight his mandatory challenger without it being ordered, it generally means that the fight is either one that the fans want, or the champ sees it as an easy one that he can 100% win without breaking a sweat.

You can pretty much tell why GGG picked Szeremeta. Golovkin has talked of wanting to fight the little known Polish fighter Szeremeta even before winning the IBF middleweight title last year in October.

Golovkin wants to use Szeremeta to break Bernard Hopkins’ record of 20 title defenses at middleweight. If Golovkin defeats Szeremeta, it’ll be his 21st title defense, and he’ll go down in the record books.

Image: Canelo focused on unifying at 168, GGG not in his plans

Boxing fans don’t care about Golovkin’s pursuit of a 21st title defense, and they care even less about his fight against Szeremeta. There are situations where fighters can hurt their careers by taking easy fights and stepping away from facing world-class opponents.

Golovkin hurting his career

We’ve seen well-known fighters do this many times, and they end up wrecking their careers well their desire to take the easy path. Kell Brook is an example of that.

Brook backed away from fighting world level fighters after losing to GGG and Errol Spence in back to back fights. For three years ago, Canelo fought soft opposition and was forgotten by fans. Golovkin is now doing the same thing in picking Szeremeta to fight instead of facing elite level opposition.

Golovkin’s excuse that he’s defending against his IBF mandatory as his rationale for taking the Szeremeta fight doesn’t hold water with the fans, who see it as a case of wanting to take a soft job after his bad experience last year against Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

YouTube video

After a fight like that, Golovkin needs to redeem himself because the fans saw that as a loss for him, not a win. That’s why Golovkin was booed after the fight results were announced because the fans thought he deserved to lose.

If Canelo chooses to unify the 168-lb division, Golovkin will have to stay busy for the next year. He can’t keep fighting lesser opposition like Szeremeta and Steve Rolls if he wants to remain a popular fighter.

Golovkin should unify against Charlo or Andrade

If Golovkin faces guys that fans aren’t calling for him to fight, Canelo might lose his little interest in facing him after unifying the super-middleweight division.

What Golovkin should have done is vacate the IBF title rather than hurt his career by fighting Szeremeta. The IBF hadn’t even ordered the Golovkin-Szeremeta fight, so it was an unnecessary move on GGG’s part to take this fight.

What Golovkin should have done is face WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade or WBC champ Jermall Charlo in a unification fight to give the boxing public fights that they wanted to see.

Image: Canelo focused on unifying at 168, GGG not in his plans

If Golovkin has lost confidence in his ability to beat the best, he shouldn’t be champion. He should vacate the IBF. It looks bad that Golovkin is taking on weak contenders like Szeremeta, especially given the controversy surrounding his recent questionable win over Derevyanchenko.