Fightful Boxing Newsletter (7/4/2019): Canelo Alvarez's Next Opponent, WBC Franchise Champion

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (7/4/2019) Table Of Contents:

  1. The Mystery Surrounding Canelo Alvarez’s Next Opponent
  2. Canelo Alvarez Elevated To Franchise Champion
  3. Weekend Boxing Results
  4. Top Rank On ESPN+ Nur-Sultan Preview
UFC Vegas 41: Marvin Vettori Defeats Paulo Costa In A Slobberknocker

The Mystery Surrounding Canelo Alvarez’s Next Opponent:

The whirlwind that has surrounded Canelo Alvarez and his next fight, currently penciled in for September 14, has had champions from three different weight classes and DAZN in a constant state of confusion.

Initially, it almost seemed like a forgone conclusion that Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin would fight on Mexican Independence Day weekend for the third straight year. But then issues arose during negotiations and now it almost seems like anyone has a good chance at fighting the Mexican superstar.

After all, DAZN, who signed both Alvarez and Golovkin to nine-figure, multi-year deals for both to fight on the streaming platform and it was abundantly clear from the start that the two would face each other one more time. DAZN is in the business of getting as many U.S. subscribers possible through boxing and even with the law of diminishing returns, the trilogy fan is one of the few fights, if not the biggest fight that can be made and get casual boxing fans and even non-fans to sign up for DAZN.

But in recent weeks, news of the trilogy fight being in danger started to surface. The main issue regarding the failing negotiations is the fact that Golovkin refuses to have the fight take place in Las Vegas, where the first two bouts took place. Golovkin’s main concern with Las Vegas is that he and his team do not trust the Nevada State Athletic Commission to select what they perceive to be fair and competent judges for the bout.

In that way, it’s easy to sympathize with Golovkin. The first fight, which took place in 2017, ended in a draw after the vast majority of the boxing and sports community believed that Golovkin won. The rematch, which was also an excellent bout like the first one, saw Alvarez win by majority decision. Although there were still plenty of people believed that Golovkin also won the second fight, the public outcry was significantly less than in the first one.

Golovkin believed he won the two fights, but the fact of the matter is that Golovkin only won on just one of the six scorecards total used in the two fights. That alone is proof to Golovkin that he can’t face Alvarez in Las Vegas unless he is comfortable with the idea that he could lose to Alvarez again on the scorecards regardless of the in-ring action.

It seems that both sides have reached an impasse with the Alvarez camp wanting to fight in Las Vegas as it does bring the biggest financial reward for all sides while Golovkin insists on having the fight either in Texas or in Madison Square Garden in New York where he knocked out Steve Rolls on his DAZN debut on June 8.

Even with all the issues and the rumors circulating around, one can’t rule out the likelihood that the third fight is happening this year one way or another. It’s the biggest fight for Alvarez even with growing support for him to face other challenges not named Golovkin just for the sake of seeing something different.

DAZN stands to potentially lose the most if Alvarez vs. Golovkin 3 isn’t made. As of early May, when Alvarez beat Daniel Jacobs to unify the WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight titles, DAZN had a U.S. subscriber count of at least 600,000. That’s not terrible for a new streaming platform in the United States in its first nine months, but that number is still too low for DAZN given that they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars just to have boxing content on DAZN.

It’s an issue that DAZN has faced since it was unveiled in the United States and announced that boxing would be the main sport highlighted on the platform. DAZN believed that with boxing not being fully tapped into the American market that they can acquire as many stars as possible and take away from the HBO Boxing fanbase after the network announced it was no longer broadcasting boxing. Not just that, but given that many big stars on Premier Boxing Champions are technically promotional free agents (PBC is not a promotional company, but a brand that provides boxing content for various television networks, though it is understandable why that may be confused), DAZN hoped to lure away those stars with the insane amount of money that it had at its disposal.

Unfortunately for DAZN, it struck on just about every single major PBC-affiliated star -- Deontay Wilder, Mikey Garcia, Jermall and Jermell Charlo -- it tried to sign.

Then came the realization that once it signed Alvarez, DAZN needed to supply him with big-name opponents to drive up the subscriber count. Without constant television presence, it is almost impossible to create new stars within your online-only platform, especially when it comes to a niche sport like boxing is in the United States.

Getting Alvarez wasn’t enough. That was abundantly clear when Alvarez faced Rocky Fielding last December. DAZN said it was the No. 1 app downloaded on the iTunes and Google Play stores, but there was no mention of how many subscribers it had. As it has been seen with the WWE Network and ESPN+, subscriber count is only ever announced when the number reaches a milestone like two million or is at an all-time high after a big event.

Upon learning all of that, DAZN knew it was imperative to make Alvarez vs. Golovkin 3 the highest priority in order to end 2019 on a high note with the heavyweight title rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua slated for late November/December. No one knows how many more people would sign up for the trilogy fight, but whatever that number is, there is almost no other fight for Alvarez that can match that number.

But try as it might, DAZN might not get that trilogy fight, at least not yet. Still, Alvarez is going to fight one more time in 2019 and Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Alvarez, is desperately trying to find other opponents that could still be attractive fights for the unified middleweight champion.

A new wrinkle in the mystery that is Alvarez's next opponent has appeared in the form of WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. Alvarez potentially facing Kovalev next is a concept that has picked up steam in recent weeks but Kovalev's name has been brought up by Golden Boy Promotions all the way back in early May after Alvarez defeated Jacobs. Though the concept of Alvarez moving up two weight classes to face Kovalev may seem far-fetched at first, Golden Boy Promotions President Eric Gomez told ESPN the Mexican star is very serious about making that fight possible.

However, when the camps for both fighters went to negotiate, the initial offer sent to Main Events, Kovalev’s promoter, it was almost instantly rejected. According to Chris Mannix, the offer was for less than half of the $12.5 million that Jacobs received when he faced Alvarez. Even with a $6 million offer, Kovalev would only get a fraction of it. After all, Kovalev is contracted to ESPN and Top Rank and both parties would get a cut for having one of its champions fight Alvarez on another network. There’s also the fact that Kovalev is currently ordered to fight mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde and the Kovalev camp would have to pay a hefty step-aside fee to both Yarde and promoter Frank Warren for allowing Kovalev to fight Alvarez.

Given that Kovalev has had issues when it comes to relatively low amounts of money being given to him after big fights. Back in 2017, instead of taking a guaranteed purse for his pay-per-view rematch against Andre Ward, Kovalev chose to receive a cut of the pay-per-view sales and the live gate, a move that completely backfired on him since the rematch, like the first bout in 2016, failed to even reach 200,000 buys in the United States.

No other deal has been offered by Golden Boy Promotions that we are aware of, but there are still several other potential candidates who could face Alvarez this year.

There is also the growing concern over Alvarez’s left knee, which is less than 100 percent healthy and has been a concern since the first half of 2018. Back in mid-April 2018, Alvarez underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in a hospital in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico. It wasn’t a major surgery and was able to return to training weeks later, but Alvarez did had a knee brace in the rematch against Golovkin. Ever since then, the thought of Alvarez having another procedure, perhaps a more extensive one, had been barely present in the collective boxing consciousness, but present nonetheless.

Although Gomez insists that Alvarez is locked into a fight on September 14, there will be a number of changes regarding his training camp, per Mike Coppinger of The Athletic. Firstly, Alvarez is still experiencing some discomfort in the left knee, but not to the point where surgery will be required, at least not at this point. Secondly, there will be a lot less traveling involved in the weeks leading up to camp in order to keep his legs fresh and Alvarez will now opt in to do more swimming and biking as they are less taxing on the lower body than hard running.

Even if fights against Golovkin and Kovalev can't be made for September, Alvarez does still have multiple suitors that could face him this fall. There is WBO middleweight titleholder Demetrius Andrade, who said he would accept an offer to face Alvarez after beating Maciej Sulecki on June 29 on a DAZN card in Providence, Rhode Island. Although he was initially overlooked by the Alvarez camp, after it seemed like fights against Golovkin and Kovalev are looking less likely every day, the allure of adding another middleweight title is starting to be more attractive for Alvarez.

Callum Smith, who holds the WBA super middleweight title, is also under consideration especially since his promoter, Matchroom Boxing, also has a broadcast deal with DAZN. Alvarez's first two fights on DAZN were against Fielding and Jacobs, both of whom are also promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing. However, Smith is slowly starting to exit out of the conversation as he revealed that he had been given an offer from WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders for a unification bout. That fight, according to the offer, would be around a 50/50 split in terms of the finances but it would be shown on BT Sport pay-per-view. Although that fight wouldn’t exactly break pay-per-view records in the United Kingdom, it still is an interesting and attractive fight in the region.

Also waiting in the wings is Sergiy Derevyanchenko, the current mandatory challenger to Alvarez's IBF portion of the middleweight championship. Derevyanchenko is not even in the conversation for Alvarez’s next opponent after the IBF said Alvarez is not required to fight him next, but plans always change on an almost daily basis. After all, Ruiz was not on the initial list of fighters Hearn had in mind to face Joshua after Jarrell Miller tested for three different banned substance but Ruiz eventually got the shot and beat Joshua to become the new unified WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion.

Canelo Alvarez Elevated To Franchise Champion:

As if boxing's issues with its numerous world titles wasn't confusing enough, the WBC has now made a major change to its middleweight title picture with the introduction of a brand new concept.

The WBC has now appointed Canelo Alvarez as the WBC Franchise champion, effectively ending his reign as the middleweight champion while elevating interim titleholder Jermall Charlo to full world champion. The Franchise champion, as the WBC stated, provides "a unique status to those fighters who prove to be of an elite level and stature, those who compete and have activity in multiple divisions, those who have accomplished success in the ring and hold a proven and unquestionable stature in the boxing industry."

In a roundabout way, the WBC believes that Alvarez's career achievements earned him the special designation. This would give Alvarez full control of his career in regards to exercising mandatory challengers from other organizations and choosing whatever fights he wishes with the full support from the WBC and without worrying about purse bids and mandatory challengers put up by the WBC.

As for Charlo, his first defense of his new title was against Brandon Adams on June 29 in the main event of a Showtime-televised card from the NRG Arena in Houston. Charlo easily defeated Adams with a dominant 12-round performance in front of his hometown fans. Charlo had held the interim WBC middleweight title since April 2018 when he knocked out Jorge Sebastian Heiland in Brooklyn.

Despite holding the interim belt for more than a year, there was no clear indication of when the WBC would decide on ordering a fight between Alvarez and Charlo. The elevation of the title status of both champions effectively ends any obligation of forcing that fight to happen.

The WBC has made a list of what being the Franchise champion entails, which can be seen below.

1. The Franchise Champion designation is exclusively by appointment of the WBC Board of Governors by a majority vote of the board.

2. This designation is not transferable and is exclusively to the fighter who receives such designation.

3. The Franchise Champion will be designated as WBC Emeritus Champion once he retires from boxing.

4. The Franchise Champion 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 fights. WBC will approve through the franchise champion promoter every opponent scheduled to fight.

5. Franchise Champion agrees to participate in a minimum of two social responsibility events every year, organized and in conjunction with the WBC.

6. The WBC may recognize a WBC champion in the division or divisions where the Franchise champion currently competes.

7. The WBC may award a Diamond Championship belt in those fights in which the Franchise Champion engages. If the Franchise Champion loses, the winner will receive the Diamond belt and may be considered as mandatory contender of the division.

The announcement adds further confusion to the world title picture and potentially sets up a precedent where the WBC crowns more Franchise champions down the road. The WBA has been heavily criticized by the boxing community for adopting the practice of having "Super" and "Regular" champions, both of which the organization considers to be world champions, but many simply consider the one holding the "Super" title to be the true champion.

Alvarez still holds the IBF and WBA's super version of the middleweight titles, both of which were won in the past year. Alvarez won the WBC and WBA titles last September with a majority decision win over Gennadiy Golovkin and then added the IBF belt in May when he defeated Daniel Jacobs.

The 28-year-old Alvarez is scheduled to fight again at some point this year. Alvarez was in negotiations with Golovkin for a third fight this September, but there is no word on if a deal will ever be reached. Even if the trilogy fight between the two stars were to be made, what would be at stake now would be the WBA "Super" and IBF belts with a possibility of a WBC Diamond belt and a potential shot at Charlo's title on the line for Golovkin should he beat Alvarez.

As it stands, if a fighter beats the Franchise champion, it does not necessarily mean that they are the WBC world champion of that weight class, but would possibly be in line to face the actual champion of that weight class, which in this case would be Charlo.

Weekend Boxing Results:

Jermall Charlo defeated Brandon Adams by unanimous decision (119-109, 120-108, 120-108) to retain the WBC middleweight title: Charlo dominated the fight with his overall power and length allowing him to be able to land punches with relative ease. Adams, on the other hand, tried to make the fight uncomfortable for Charlo, whether it be creating some distance between him and the champion at times or fighting on the inside and force the action to go to the trenches. Regardless, Charlo seemingly had an answer for everything. There were moments in the fight where Charlo nearly managed to stop Adams, including a flurry of shots in the fifth round, but Adams was able to hang on and take all of Charlo’s punches. According to ShoStats, Charlo outlanded Adams 151 to 73 in total punches and 118 to 42 in power punches. After the fight, Charlo would go on to reveal that he had hurt his hand in the second round, which he says is the reason he wasn't able to throw punches as well as he usually did.

Erickson Lubin defeated Zakaria Attou by TKO, round 4 to win a WBC junior middleweight title eliminator: Lubin’s left hand consistently found its target in Attou’s head throughout the fight, forcing Attou to go back and retreat to the ropes and corners at times. Lubin nearly scored a knockdown in the third, but was able to do so about a minute into the fourth. Lubin pressured Attou into the corner, landing a barrage of punches and dropping him to the canvas. Although Attou did get back up, his corner decided that it would be in the fighter’s best interest to throw in the towel and call it a fight. Lubin is now in line for a future opportunity to fight for the WBC title currently being held by Tony Harrison. That title shot will likely not happen this year as Harrison is currently injured and likely headed for a rematch against Charlo once he is fully healthy. The two were supposed to have a title fight on June 23, but less than three weeks before the fight, it was announced that Harrison suffered torn ligaments in his right ankle as well as an inner and outer ankle sprain, leaving him unable to train for 10 weeks.

Demetrius Andrade defeated Maciej Sulecki by unanimous decision (120-107, 120-107, 120-107) to retain the WBO middleweight title: Starting off, Andrade landed a big left hand that dropped Sulecki in the first round, sending the crowd in Providence into a frenzy. Sulecki got back up, but Andrade kept attacking and nearly dropped him a second time early in the bout. But once Sulecki was able to whether the initial storm of offense, Andrade continued to outbox and outwork his challenger throughout the entire bout. Andrade is one of several top middleweights that fight on DAZN, along with unified WBA and IBF champion Canelo Alvarez. After the fight, Andrade would go on and call out the Mexican superstar. Prior to this week, Alvarez was also the WBC champion, but his ascension to WBC Franchise champion meant that Jermall Charlo would be the sole titleholder.

Joseph Parker defeated Alex Leapai by TKO, round 10: This was Parker’s Matchroom Boxing debut after signing a three-fight deal with the company weeks ago. Parker was actually supposed to face Eric Molina, but Molina pulled out of the fight. The was heavily one-sided from the start in favor of Parker, but Parker was never able to pull the trigger and finish him. It was actually Leapai’s corner who threw in the towel in the middle of the 10th round to stop the fight. In all honesty, Parker did not look good. He was expected to end this fight quickly and even though Leapai is a very tough fighter, he had no business going 10 rounds against Parker. Based on this performance, it’s hard to envision Parker being put in a position to fight for a world title within the next two fights.

Kal Yafai defeated Norbelto Jimenez by unanimous decision (119-107, 118-108, 117-109) to retain his WBA super flyweight title: Yafai had started out well, showcasing his power early and Jimenez wary of the champion's strength. Once the fight settled down and approached the middle rounds, Jimenez was able to briefly outbox Yafai. Jimenez was docked a point in the fourth round for excessive holding. Yafai proceeded to outwork Jimenez and even dropped Jimenez in the final round. Yafai seemingly used his left hand to push Jimenez to the canvas, but it was ruled a knockdown. Now that he is done with fighting Jimenez, Yafai wants to turn his attention to some of the bigger names at 115 pounds. Yafai said in the post-fight interview that he would like to face WBC champion Juan Francisco Estrada, who was recently announced as Yafai's newest promotional stablemate after signing a deal with Matchroom Boxing. In addition, Yafai claimed that his hands are hurt and that he perforated his eardrums.

Top Rank On ESPN+ Nur-Sultan Preview:

As Top Rank and MTK Global continue their broadcast agreement to carry out shows on ESPN+ almost on a weekly basis, the July 6 show from Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan is perhaps the biggest show of this partnership so far for a multitude of reasons.

Not only is this the first MTK Global on ESPN+ show to feature a world title bout, but it is also a rare chance to see live boxing from the country of Kazakhstan. That world title bout will see WBC bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali defend his belt for the first time against Arthur Villanueva.

In recent months, MTK Global had been expanding not only its roster but also the variety of shows being broadcast on iFL TV in the United Kingdom and on ESPN+ in the United States. There appears to be a growing interest in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe for live boxing shows, especially with an April show that took place in Dubai.

It’s easy to understand why they are expanding into those areas, where amateur boxing is either already strong, or growing. While it is true that places such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have incredible amateur boxing, there seems to be a lack of major professional boxing shows. Having a company like Top Rank go to those countries for boxing events not only creates a greater global presence for them, but also gives them a head start when it comes to signing potential pros coming out of those countries.

Given the success of Eastern Europeans such as Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Gvosdyk and Oleksandr Usyk, it stands to reason that there may be more fighters out there that can potentially reach the level of success that those fighters had achieved. After all, fighters such as Murodjon Akhmadaliev and Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu are already highly ranked in governing bodies at super bantamweight and super featherweight, respectively, with 14 pro bouts or less.

Having boxing shows in places like Kazakhstan and Dubai could potentially mean that fighters of that caliber might be more inclined to sign with MTK Global and Top Rank.

It’s actually rather ingenious. Even though it is hard to tell how much money is being invested into these shows, but it’s doubtful that it is a significant loss in money in attempting to make this expansion. This can be seen even in the Indian boxing scene as Top Rank has signed Vijender Singh and Vikas Krishan, considered stars in India, to promotional deals within the past 10 months.

As for the Nur-Sultan show, there is certainly a lot to look forward to. Out of the 10 fights on this card, seven of them feature at least one undefeated Kazakh fighter. Perhaps out of the whole bunch, the ones to really look forward to the most are Zhankosh Turarov, Viktor Kotochigov and Sultan Zaurbek. The jury is still out on whether or not any of them will be world champions, but they are starting to reach the point in their careers where they are expected to face better competition soon.

The other notable prospect on this show is current WBO European featherweight champion David Oliver Joyce, who is facing Breilor Teran in a non-title bout. Joyce is someone to watch out for and the expectation would be for him to dominant and stop Teran in a showcase fight. Given how Joyce is 32 years old, the window to becoming a world title contender isn’t very wide. Still, it should be interesting to see his development in this fight, his 11th as a pro.

Tale of the Tape: Nordine Oubaali vs. Arthur Villanueva:

Nordine Oubaali:

Record: 15-0 (11 KO)

Age: 32

Height: 5’4”

Reach: 64”

Notable Opponents: Rau’shee Warren, Luis Melendez, Iran Diaz

Titles Won: WBC Bantamweight Title

Arthur Villanueva:

Record: 32-3-1 (18 KO)

Age: 30

Height: 5’5”

Reach: 69.5”

Notable Opponents: Luis Nery, Zolani Tete, McJoe Arroyo,

Titles Won: N/A

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