Saudi Arabia’s Heavyweight Obsession: Could Canelo Be Next?

By Charles Brun - 03/23/2024 - Comments

Saudi Arabia seems obsessed with heavyweights right now, but will Canelo Alvarez be next for that country? Canelo may lack the size to interest the Saudis, but he is popular among American fans who want to match Anthony Joshua.

(Photo credit: Esther Lin & Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions)

If the Saudis are interested in adding another big star that resonates with U.S. fans, not just the UK, Canelo would be the one they would need for their events.

The Brits are happy with the Saudis focusing on their fighters, Tyson Fury and Joshua, but the Americans don’t care about those two.

They’ve already seen Joshua beaten repeatedly and view him as a hype job, who would still be losing if promoter Eddie Hearn didn’t match AJ against four consecutive soft opponents after his two defeats against Oleksandr Usyk.

One fight that fans would like to see is Canelo vs. David Benavidez, and the Saudis have the money to make that fight happen if they’re willing to pay Alvarez $150-200 million that he wants for this clash.

“The Saudis Love the Heavyweight Division”

“The Saudis love the heavyweight division. Canelo, there’s no bigger star in boxing. The Saudis already have AJ. Would they love to have the other big star in boxing, Canelo, and bring him over to Saudi Arabia? It’s possible,” said boxing expert Paulie Malignaggi to the Probox TV YouTube channel.

If the Saudis don’t care about North American audiences, they’ll ignore Canelo and continue to focus on the British heavyweights, Joshua and Fury, and ride them until their tires fall off.

The Saudis can afford for their PPV events to do poorly in the U.S., so they could choose to continue to focus exclusively on the heavyweights and moss out the thriving 135, 140, and 168-lb divisions. For U.S. fans, those are the divisions people care about, not the heavyweight weight class.

“It’s a big ego push, and they have the money to do it. If you talk about it with their [Saudis] love for weight classes that they love to follow,” said Malignaggi. “It doesn’t seem like Canelo is physically big enough. These guys love the big men.

“That’s sort of what they’ve paid to this point. Canelo does amazing numbers. What did Ngannou-AJ sell? What did they sell? 4500 PPVs in the U.S. So, they [the Saudis] don’t care to change the PPV times to make it more palpable for the U.S. audiences to buy PPVs. These guys p*** money away. They don’t care. It’s about ego,” said Malignaggi.

if the Saudis don’t care about money or viewership, they’ll choose not to bring Canelo, over to their country for their events. They’ll lose Americans fans, who don’t care about Fury and Joshua.

Heavyweight Renaissance or Sweepstakes Mentality?

“These guys are going to bring heavyweight boxing back to life,” said Chris Algieri about the Saudis. “Do they want to do that for everyone or just the heavyweights?”

“That’s the thing because now nobody wants to fight each other because you want to stay in the sweepstakes you might get that big money fight. ‘Now, I don’t want to fight anybody,” said Malignaggi.

“They don’t care if guys lose. They’re setting up losers,” said Algieri.