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

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.

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