The race for Canelo Alvarez

Canelo Alvarez
Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
In his Snips & Snipes column Eric Armit considers Canelo Alvarez, the WBC's ludicrous 'Franchise' title and more

THERE seems to be no end to the greed and stupidity of the major sanctioning bodies. It does not matter how many or how contrived the existing titles are there is always room for more titles and for more sanctioning fees. When at cruiserweight the WBA found they had four champions but only three “world” titles – super, secondary and interim -they invented a Gold title. This from the guys who proudly trumpeted their intention to have only one champion in every division. Hypocrisy rules OK. Of course if the WBA have a new title then the WBO have to have one as well. We have already had Gold, Silver and Diamond titles foisted on us so the WBO to top those have introduced a Global title. According to my dictionary Global means “worldwide”. Which raises the question of what a World title covers? I pity any boxing enthusiast who finds himself trying to explain to someone who does not follow boxing just what the difference is  between being a World champion and a Global champion.The latest effort from the WBC just beggars belief. They have now designated Saul Alvarez as their “Franchise Champion”. According to the WBC missive their Franchise Champion (and of course there will be yet more Franchise Champions to follow) will:

“Proudly represent the WBC in every single fight as a reigning WBC champion, regardless of any specific conditions or titles being associated with all future fights. WBC rules and regulations will govern under the traditional conditions of boxing in the Franchise champion’s fights. WBC will approve through the Franchise champion’s promoter every opponent scheduled to fight.”

What that means is that even if Saul Alvarez were to challenge Sergey Kovalev for the WBO light-heavyweight title then as it involves their Franchise champion, that fight will be under the rules and regulations of the WBC – even though Alvarez is the challenger and fighting out of his division – and the WBC will have to approve of Kovalev or any other fighter/champion who intends to fight Alvarez. No mention there of who gets the sanctioning fee! I can’t imagine the IBF, WBA or WBO accepting such a thing and neither can I envisage Alvarez walking away from a big fight for an IBF, WBA or WBO title just because the WBC have invented a title aimed at associating themselves with every title Alvarez fights for. As if that is not bad enough the WBC reserves the right to also recognise a (another) champion in a division or divisions in which Alvarez (or any other Franchise champion they may appoint) competes and that effectively could mean the WBC having a world champion and a Franchise champion in as many divisions as they like and so devaluing the title even further.

Canelo Alvarez
Canelo unfies against Danny Jacobs Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

Alvarez next fight is scheduled for September 14 and there all types of hats being thrown in the ring. Golden Boy have stated their interest in an Alvarez vs. Kovalev fight for the WBO light-heavy title but the barrier there is that Kovalev is mandated to defend the WBO title against Anthony Yarde and negotiations for that fight are said to be well advanced. Obviously Alvarez vs. Kovalev would be a huge fight much bigger than Kovalev vs. Yarde as the British challenger is still relatively unknown. Kovalev could choose to go ahead with the Yarde fight and face Alvarez at a later date, but that would be a risky choice. Alternatively Kovalev could relinquish the WBO title or Yarde could be offered a sum of money to stand aside and let the Alvarez vs. Kovalev fight take place with a guarantee he could fight the winner but that too would be risky for Yarde as guarantees can sometimes turn out to be pie in the sky.

Others want Alvarez for Demetrius Andrade. Even as a two-division champion Andrade’s profile is not mega high yet but obviously a win over Alvarez would change that. His fight last week was not one to set the pulses racing but, in the end, whether he lands the Alvarez fight will come down to money. Brits Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders would love the chance, as would a certain Mr. Golovkin. Everyone wants a piece of Canelo.

For any fight involving Alvarez you are talking serious money but not all fights are multi-million dollar affairs. For his title defence against Ray Beltran IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey’s purse was $350K  and it was boosted by a further $20K from Beltran’s original purse of $160K due to Beltran failing to make the weight.  Other purses were £50K for Patrick Day, $30K for his opponent Carlos Adames, $30K for Saul Rodriguez, which will not really soften the blow of his suffering his first pro defeat, just $5K for his conqueror Miguel Angel Gonzalez and $15K each for heavyweights Junior Fa and Dominic Guinn.

The build up to Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman continues with Thurman constituting a much bigger danger to Pacquiao than Adrien Broner. Whilst the focus is on Pacquiao the boxer he is also still an active force in Philippines politics and this week Pacquiao introduced a bill in the legislator to reintroduce capital punishment for major drug trafficking convictions. In the next session of Congress reportedly Pacquiao also intends to introduce bills banning smoking in public places and one to set up in the Philippines an equivalent to the US Department of Homeland Security. 

The undercard for the Pacquiao vs. Thurman WBA title fight also features another world title fight with Caleb Plant defending the IBF super-middle title against unbeaten Mike Lee. Also on the card are fights between Yordenis Ugas and Omar Figueroa Jr at welter, Luis Nery and Juan Carlos Payano at bantam, Sergey Lipinets vs. John Molina Jr at welter and unbeaten heavy Efe Ajagba vs. Ali Eren Demirezen.

Negotiations for the Denis Lebedev vs. Arsen Goulamirian fight have broken down. Lebedev was recently reinstated as Super champion at cruiser by the WBA and Goulamirian was promoted from Gold champion to secondary champion. It looks likely now that the WBA will put the fight out to purse offers.

One purse bidding process that was completed saw World of Boxing win the right to stage Danny Romero’s WBA super-bantam title defence against Uzbek Murodjon Akhmadaliev with a bid of $145,000. There was only one bidder and with Akhmadaliev having had just six fights and being virtually unknown it was not too surprising the bid was relatively low and there was only one bid receive.

Whilst much of the interest in the bantamweight division is centered on the fight between Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire, WBC champion Nordine Oubaali will defend his title on Saturday against Filipino Arthur Villanueva on a big show in Kazakhstan. There are some excellent local prospects on the undercard. MTK Global, Top Rank and ESPN are all touting Kazakhstan as the next big growth area in boxing. Oubaali will be making the first defence of the title he won with unanimous points decision over Rau’shee Warren in January. He is managed by his brother Ali Oubaali who fought for the European super-featherweight title back in 2004 and ended with a 26-3 record. Filipino Villanueva has lost in previous title shots for the IBF super fly and interim WBO bantam titles.

Frenchman Michel Soro will get another chance to win a version of the WBA super-welter title when he faces Russian Magomed Kurbanov in Marseilles on 20 July for the secondary title. The Ivory Coast-born Soro lost a split decision against Argentinian Brian Castano for the Interim title in 2017 his only loss in his last 17 fights. Russian Kurbanov, 23, has won all of his 17 fights.

Still on the France scene heavyweight prospect Tony Yoka is scheduled to return to the ring on July 13 in Antibes against Alex Dimitrenko but there could be a problem with the big Russian. He retired after five rounds in his fight in Carson, California with Andy Ruiz on April 20. Due to a suspected shoulder fracture the Californian Commission gave Dimitrenko a 180 day suspension. However if Dimitrenko can pass a medical the suspension will be lifted so he could still be Yoka’s opponent. The Antibes show will also feature former European super-welter champion Cedric Vitu and unbeaten prospects Elie Konki, Souleymane Cissokho and Michel Tavares,

As far as injured boxers goes it is a good news-bad news scenario. Former WBC light-heavy champion Adonis Stevenson is back with his family and making a very good recovery from the brain operation he had following his loss to Olek Gvozdyk in December. Stevenson is already talking about going back to the gym but as a trainer.

The news about heavyweight Denis Boytsov is not good at all. His injuries are not boxing related but he is in dire straits. Four years after being found on a Berlin subway track with serious head and leg injuries Boytsov is still unable to stand upright, has great difficulty speaking and very little mobility. In the space of just a few hours Boytsov went from being a promising heavyweight with a 36-1 record to an invalid with no real future. Life can be very cruel at times.

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