Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is boxing’s biggest star; it’s not a matter of opinion as it is a matter of fact.
Last year, Canelo’s two pay-per-view appearances outsold the other three cards here in the US by a comfortable margin, and both were labeled as prohibitive mismatches going in. He constantly remains a focal point of both fans and the media with every move he makes is heavily analyzed and scrutinized by the sport as a whole. With the direction of a sport in a new era in his hands, Canelo can either move us past the Mayweather/Pacquiao era or have us wishing for days gone by.
Because that is the case, it is absolutely unacceptable that Alvarez and his team have once again decided to sidestep boxing’s biggest fight for another reprehensible cash grab against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
There is a sound, logical reasoning behind it, but it is yet another step in the inadvertent sabotage of his image courtesy of his handlers.
After Canelo won the WBC Middleweight title from Miguel Cotto in a massive pay-per-view fight in 2015, the right thing to do was to steady build Canelo up against HBOs prized stallion Gennady Golovkin. What instead ended up happening was Alvarez returning to the ring against former Junior Welterweight champion Amir Khan, a decision that was as head scratching as it was unnecessary.
The bout was a foregone conclusion with Canelo violently knocking Khan out in six, but the doubters were proven wrong as Canelo/Khan was the biggest pay-per-view event of the year. Though Canelo insisted there would be no problems he’d go after Golovkin next, he ended up facing Liam Smith instead for Smith’s WBO Junior Middleweight belt.
Between Khan and Smith, a media firestorm erupted that all but buried Alvarez in the eyes of the sport. Canelo parted with his Middleweight title, essentially handing it to Golovkin mere weeks after declaring his willingness to fight him, then dismissed the notion of a fight with him any further following the Smith fight by saying he would slowly creep his way to the 160 pound limit.
To keep the contradictions coming, Canelo will meet former Middleweight champion Chavez at a catchweight of 164.5 pounds.
Why does this keep happening to Canelo? Simple…ask his boss.
In a recently release report from Paul Gift of BloodyElbow, which goes in great detail of the upcoming Golden Boy Promotions/Al Haymon lawsuit, “Canelo accounted for 94% of Golden Boy’s income from boxing operations in 2015 and 107% in the first half of 2016.”
Those insane numbers alone explain the rationale behind making the fights we’ve seen, and perhaps are yet to see, when it involves Alvarez. Without any other marketable stars to speak of, Golden Boy Promotions lives and dies off of Alvarez.
On paper, Chavez is a perfect figure in their risk/reward formula. Once upon a time, Chavez would have been more of a match for a still-maturing Canelo when he was still able to make the Middleweight limit. Those days seem like ages ago as sloth, laziness and poor conditioning took its toll on Chavez who himself remains a marketable figure thanks in part to his last time than his fighting prowess.
Though Chavez could still pose a very real threat to Alvarez, the thought process was simple: Pick a guy and a scenario where it can be interesting, intriguing and even captivating but still find a way to make it safe for the house fighter. The selection of Alvarez and making him fight at his lowest weight in several years on Cinco De Mayo weekend will ensure big returns on a relatively safe bet.
Barring a gross miscalculation and Chavez comes in the best shape of his career, Canelo will win, then what?
More grandstanding about taking opportunities as opposed to taking chances? Chiding Golovkin on his sure-to-be dismal pay-per-view numbers against Daniel Jacobs? A rematch with Cotto at Junior Middleweight? How about a test against a true Middleweight against inactive and entitled WBO Champion Billy Joe Saunders?
Canelo has been turned into a pariah, and that simply just isn’t fair. There requires no further build a clash with his next-best contemporary and it is already a fight people are wanting to see. Should enough time pass by, it may eventually become a fight nobody will care about and in turn, Canelo already has the distinction of being the guilty party if that doesn’t happen.
Oscar De La Hoya and the brain trusts at Golden Boy simply have too much riding on Canelo to put him in with Golovkin until they are absolutely certain the stars line up for them. As it stands right now, Canelo/Golovkin is as even of a fight as there is in the sport, which is exactly what the sport needs to thrive and move forward.
Instead, it seems pretty clear we’ll be getting more of the same bullshit and filler we’ve received in spades over the course of the last decade or so, and that sucks.