Canelo Alvarez’s pay structure for opponents reason fights not made, says Max Kellerman

By Boxing News - 06/19/2023 - Comments

By Dan Ambrose: Max Kellerman says the “pay structure” for what Canelo Alvarez is willing to give the opponents that have resulted in him fighting belt-holders at 168 but NOT the opposition that fans have wanted to see him in against, like David Benavidez, Jermall Charlo, and Artur Beterbiev.

Kellerman points out that even Canelo’s fight with WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol last year was based on “economics.” After all, he was cheaper than paying Benavidez a ton of money because he would bring a huge fan base.

Now that Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) has beaten Canelo, he wants a better deal than he got for the first fight, but the Mexican star says he’s not changing the terms.

For that reason, the rematch isn’t happening, which is disappointing for the fans, but maybe not as much for Canelo. The Mexican superstar is well aware of his physical & technical limitations as a fighter and would stand little chance of avenging his defeat to Bivol in a second fight.

Instead of Canelo (59-2-2, 39 KOs) fighting Benavidez, who everyone wants to see him fight, he’s fought these guys in recent years: Billy Joe Saunders, Rocky Fielding, Callium Smith, Caleb Plant, John Ryder, and Avni Yildirim.

As we saw last week, it’s not just the pay structure that Canelo is offering that is preventing him from fighting certain types of opposition. It’s also the weight stipulations.

According to Badou Jack, Canelo was insisting on a 180-lb catchweight + rehydration clause challenge for his WBC cruiserweight title. That’s not a mere five lbs under the cruiserweight limit that Caneelo wanted to fight Badou at.

That’s 20 pounds, and that’s pretty remarkable for any fighter to be looking for that kind of a handicap. The gall of Canelo to be insisting on a 180-lb catchweight for a weight class of 200 lbs is unreal. Where did Canelo come up with that idea, and how does that sit with him?

Is Canelo’s pay structure preventing fights?

“There’s so much going on in boxing that I want to talk to you a little bit about the business of it. I spoke to Bivol earlier today, and the rematch with Canelo is clearly not happening next, but it seems to be an issue of business,” said Radio Raheem to Secondsout.

“Canelo wants the exact same deal he had the first time, even though he lost the first fight. How does that strike you?”

“Canelo, in recent years, has insisted on a certain pay structure for opponents that have prevented, probably been the reason more than any, that we haven’t seen the fights we wanted to see him in,” said Max Kellerman.

If Canelo isn’t going to change his pay structure, that could mean that the boxing public will never see him fight the likes of David Benavidez or face Dmitry Bivol in a rematch.

But if you’re Canelo, it’s really not in your best interest to fight either of those guys because you’ll probably not win, and your marketability will take a hit.

“We have seen Canelo fight plausible opponents,”  said Kellerman. “That guy has a belt. He wants to unify it super middle, but not the fighters that we really have wanted to see him fight; fight [Jermall] Charlo, fight Benavidez, fight Beterbiev.”

When Kellerman talks of Canelo fighting “plausible opponents,” he means he’s fighting these guys: Rocky Fielding, Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders, and Caleb Plant. In other words, the paper champions.

“What was odd about that, though, is he chooses, when he does fight one of the very top guys, the guy you would put him in with to get him beat,” said Kellerman. “If you wanted to get Canelo beat, you’d put him in with Bivol, right?

“It’s the worst possible style for him, and so probably that was economics too, right? It might be cheaper to pay him than it would be to pay, say, Benavidez, who brings a following to the table.

It’s obvious why Canelo fought Bivol last year because the Russian fighter had looked poor in his recent fight against British fighter Craig Richards, and he likely felt that if he was struggling, looking surprisingly timid against this level of a contender, then he was an easy mark, ready to be beaten.

More important than all of that is the “economics” of getting Bivol likely made it worthwhile to face him last year than a more popular fighter like Benavidez, who would have been much more expensive.

Also, Canelo choosing to fight Bivol bought him some time to get the pressure off that he was dealing with from fans to fight Benavidez.

The boxing public has been pushing for Canelo to fight Benavidez recently, and the only way he could temporarily swerve the fight is by moving up to 175 to face Bivol, which, again, he likely assumed was an affordable, winnable one.

Canelo said he wanted the rematch after losing to Bivol but then took a trilogy match against 41-year-old Gennadiy Golovkin. After that fight, Canelo said he had an injured hand. As such, a tune-up was needed against John Ryder, a fighter that likely fit Canelo’s”pay structure” quite nicely.

“If I were in Canelo’s camp, I would advise him not to take the rematch,” said Kellerman about the rematch with Dmitry Bivol.

Does Canelo deserve to be pound-for-pound?

“Even Canelo, I realize he’s not undefeated like these guys but multiple weight divisions, multiple titles, undisputed,” said Kellerman. “Does he not still have a claim, even if whoever wins between Crawford & Spence?” said Radio when asked if Canelo still deserves the #1 pound-for-pound rather than the winner of the July 29th fight between Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford.

“Had Canelo beaten, let’s say, in recent years [Jermall] Charlo, then Benavidez, and now we’re heading into a [Artur] Beterbiev fight, and you want to say [he’s pound-for-pound 1]. Sure. That’s not what happened,” said Kellerman about Canelo failing to fight the guys that he needed to for him to make a case that he should be the top pound-for-pound fighter.

“No, I don’t think Canelo has a claim for the best pound-for-pound, although if he were to have a couple of wins like that, sure.”

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