As the biggest draw in the sport, you’d think it would be pretty easy for Canelo Alvarez to find a credible opponent for his next fight. Yet here we are, a few months out from his mooted September return, and names like David Lemieux are leading the pack. Hasn’t 2020 been hard enough already?
While most are clamouring for a trilogy fight with Gennady Golovkin, or perhaps a clash with a top super-middleweight, we’re now being told that Canelo is not likely to face a current world champion of any standing in September.
Golden Boy Promotions President Eric Gomez told Yahoo Sports: “I don’t think we’re going to be able to lure any of the champions and a Golovkin fight can’t happen now because of [the COVID-19 pandemic].
“That’s a fight we were hoping to do. I don’t think we’ll be able to get those super-middleweight champions, but there are still some good guys out there I think we’ll be able to get.”
Their reasoning is that Canelo’s next fight will take place either behind closed doors or a considerably reduced and socially-distanced audience, which will significantly hit the live gate figures, and thus they cannot afford to fork out for large purses – for Canelo’s opponent, that is.
There’s been no mention of Canelo himself taking a pay cut for this next fight, which may have something to do with his record-breaking broadcast deal with DAZN, which guarantees him roughly $35m for each fight.
This hasn’t been lost on middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, who publicly withdrew his name from consideration as Canelo’s next opponent.
“I’m not ready [in] September,” Saunders told The Athletic. “You can say to me, ‘Billy Joe, a billion pounds, but you’re not ready and you’re going to get beat.’ I would say keep it.
“Let me get ready, let me win and I will fight for free. I’m nobody’s stepping stone. I’m not another belt for Canelo. They want to try mind games… that don’t [sic] work with me, I play the biggest mind games in British boxing.”
“Considering he’s getting $35m, they come to me for a pay cut in September? They want to get short notice and a pay cut. Why not him take a pay cut?”
It’s not often I agree with Saunders, but he’s got a point here. Canelo has absolutely earned the right to call the shots on his career, but should he net $35m+ for fighting Lemieux or, God help us, Anthony Dirrell? I’m not so sure. However, that’s the reality a contract like his with DAZN creates.
There are other excellent options like super-middleweight champion Callum Smith, or even light-heavy kings Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol, all of whom have expressed a keen desire to fight Alvarez, though none look likely of happening anytime soon.
Come September, boxing fans are likely to be almost desperate for big-time boxing so DAZN might get away with Canelo facing a B or C level opponent – after that, who knows?
DAZN might take things further in the future, though. Responding to mailbag questions for The Athletic, Eddie Hearn broached the issue of the subscription service potentially staging pay-per-view cards.
“I wouldn’t like to see DAZN become a PPV platform because that’s not the ethos,” he said.
“But I do think to introduce the capacity to do it would be interesting… The only way they’re going to be able to air certain fights is PPV. Fights like [Tyson] Fury-AJ [Anthony Joshua].”
In all honesty, this seems an inevitability. A fight as huge as Fury-Joshua requires the revenue PPV would create for it to take place, and as a subscription service – even with hefty financial backing – DAZN would surely struggle to drum up the funds.
This will come as distressing news to a lot of their current subscribers, particularly given that a large part of DAZN’s marketing campaign at launch centred around the “death of PPV.”
An almost guaranteed PPV fight for later this year is Fury’s planned third fight with Deontay Wilder. Representatives from both sides confirmed to ESPN that December 19 is the targeted date, with Bob Arum revealing that the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas could host.
As with most events, it’s unclear how many fans will be able to attend, though the date – if confirmed – would ruin Dillian Whyte’s hopes of getting his mandated shot at the WBC title (currently held by Fury) by the end of February 2021.
The WBC ordered Luke Campbell to fight unbeaten prospect Ryan Garcia for their ludicrous ‘interim’ lightweight title. It’s an interesting fight and marks a huge step up in class for Garcia, but the strap added to it is pointless.
The WBC already shamed themselves by making Devin Haney their ‘world’ champion after elevating division leader Vasyl Lomachenko to ‘franchise’ champion, and now they’re further muddying the waters.
At the age of 69, Roberto Duran has defeated yet another opponent; coronavirus. The boxing world awaited news with bated breath after the Hall of Famer was hospitalised after contracting the virus, and we were able to release a collective sigh of relief this week when he was discharged having made a full recovery.
Unsurprisingly, Jarrell Miller is proclaiming his innocence after testing positive for banned substances again.
In an interview with FightNet, he said: “I have never, ever willingly taken a steroid for performance-enhancement purposes.”
He followed that up with: “I’m prepared to accept my suspension [from the Nevada State Athletic Commission] and willing to do my monthly testing for the duration of my suspension. But to be banned for life? No. You’re out of your mind.”
Even now he can’t commit to regular testing and claims “nobody can be more outraged than me.” Believe me, Jarrell, they absolutely can. The sad reality is that we probably are out of our minds for demanding a lifetime ban, because it’ll never happen.