Rumor has it that the mystery opponent will be named later today.
Yes, Canelo is still 21. But, now, as a “world champion,” everything changes. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t be a developing young prodigy and a reigning world titlist at the same time, especially in a division like junior middleweight, where there is plenty of quality, world class opposition.
The WBC’s games of interference on Canelo’s behalf have turned an otherwise likable, earnest fighter into a questionable figure. And Golden Boy, Alvarez’s promoter, has done the exact opposite of promote when it comes to Canelo. If anything, they’ve de-promoted him (Yes, a made up term). It would’ve been refreshing to have Alvarez highlighted as the one fighter honest enough to reject a gift-wrapped world title belt, but instead, they went for the quick cash-out and are now working overtime to make their fighter not look like the red-headed Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
For the longest time, Alvarez was able to get away with some of the backstage maneuvering done on his behalf because, whereas Chavez Jr. sneers at his detractors and parties like a rock star, Canelo is actually a nice, humble country kid from the heartland of Mexico. But being a nice guy only takes you so far when your very presence at the top of the food chain is actually more of a hindrance than a help to the sport.
There have been five 154 lb. title eliminators fought for the right to face Alvarez since he took the vacant belt against Matthew Hatton in March of last year. None of the winners of those eliminators are within sniffing distance of a title fight at the moment. Instead, “eliminator” winners like Erislandy Lara and Vanes Martirosyan would be told that they had only won “semi-final” eliminators and would have to go on to now fight “final” eliminators. James Kirkland’s eliminator victory over Alfredo Angulo would be completely wiped off the record book and re-billed, after the fact, as a “Continental Americas” title bout. Kirkland’s next eliminator victory, over Carlos Molina, would actually lead to him falling from the #1 challenger spot to #2 in the organization.
It could be argued that it’s a good thing challengers fight one another for the right to get a title shot. Yeah… but only if the winners actually get that shot. Because, while all of these guys were finding themselves tangled up in wave after wave of eliminators, Alfonso Gomez and Shane Mosley somehow found a direct path to Canelo.
By the WBC’s own by-laws, Alvarez should’ve been stripped on June 19th for going a full year without making a defense against a compulsory challenger– except each WBC rule is tagged by the phrase, “unless the WBC in its sole discretion otherwise directs,” meaning that their rules are etched in stone, unless they choose not to respect them. Part of the WBC’s “sole discretion” is the ability to order eliminator after eliminator and, if they feel that it’s to their benefit, never declare a mandatory challenger.
So, this charade can go on indefinitely until Golden Boy gives WBC President for Life, Jose Sulaiman, the order to open the flood gates for legitimate challenges.
To be fair, it looked as though Golden Boy and Alvarez were set on choosing a respectable opponent for their September showcase PPV. Paul Williams fell out after his tragic motorcycle accident. James Kirkland pulled out when a refusal to up his guaranteed purse made his shoulder hurt. And Victor Ortiz was pushed out by Josesito Lopez.
Rumors for a replacement opponent run the gamut from interesting (Miguel Cotto, Austin Trout, Cornelius Bundrage, and the return of James Kirkland to the picture) to the godawful (Ricardo Mayorga, Acelino Freitas).
But for now we wait. And who knows? Maybe by tomorrow we could all be pleasantly surprised and this Rant will look ridiculous in retrospect. Or maybe my bomb-throwing hackery will once again be proven justified.
I wanted to set aside a bit of Rant space this week for a tip of the hat to veteran boxing writer, Ted Sares and, especially, to his ongoing The Memory Bank series.
The Memory Bank on Boxing.com is Sares’ detailed sharing of a lifetime’s worth of pugilistic memories. For those who enjoy quality writing and interesting nuggets of boxing history, I strongly suggest you check his stuff out.
As a boxing writer, Sares is the rarest of all breeds– A scribe who can actually write and one who loves the sport and its warriors more than the awesomeness of his own career trajectory.
In a perfect world, Sares would be a feature writer at one of the Big Two boxing sites. He has the boxing common sense and built-in BS detector that can only be developed over years of being around the sport and only by a writer not busy shoveling free dinner rolls into his pocket at media pressers. And unlike many self-described boxing historians, he’s not a pretentious nerd who desperately diddles himself to Jack Dempsey quotes in old Ring Magazines.
Sares is just a regular guy who loves what boxing has given to him and has the talent to put it all on paper.
You can email Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or watch him on his new television series: Hardcore Mexican Pawn Brothel . Paul is a full member of the Burger King Kids’ Club, a born iconoclast, and an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church.